Romney, Thune slam Obama as distancing U.S. from Israel


LAS VEGAS (JTA) — Two likely GOP presidential candidates in speeches to Republican Jews slammed President Obama as unfair to Israel.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition’s winter leadership conference on Saturday in Las Vegas, both said Obama had shifted from decades of pro-Israel policy. They joined other Republican luminaries at the confab.

Neither Thune nor Romney has formally declared his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but both are believed to be seriously considering a run.

Romney said Obama’s clumsy attempt to appear even-handed led him to "castigate Israel while having nothing to say about thousands of rockets being launched into Israel."

The Obama administration has condemned Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, although its tense exchanges with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over settlement building have received much greater media attention.

Thune said the Obama administration’s emphasis on settlements made it appear that they were the reason peace talks were not advancing while ignoring Arab recalcitrance and the Iranian nuclear threat.

"America’s ally is now and always will be the State of Israel," he said. "I think the Obama administration sometimes forgets that fundamental fact."

Also speaking in closed-to-media events were Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.


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