Romney Blasts Obama: ’180 Degree’ Flip on Iran Nukes

By Jennifer Parker

Jun 14, 2009 11:48am

During my exclusive “This Week” interview with former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., he blasted President Barack Obama’s handling of U.S. foreign relations, accusing him of “apologizing for America” and arguing that Obama flipped “180 degree” on Iran’s nuclear program.

Here’s our exchange: 

    STEPHANOPOULOS:  “What do you think of the administration’s response
to the [Iranian] election so far and how would you respond? 

    ROMNEY:  Well, first of all, the comments by the president last week
that there was a robust debate going on in Iran was obviously entirely
wrong-headed.  What has occurred is that the election is a fraud, the
results are inaccurate, and you’re seeing a brutal repression of the
people as they protest. 

    The president ought to come out and state exactly those words,
indicate that this has been a terribly managed decision by the
autocratic regime in Iran. 

    It’s very clear that the president’s policies of going around the
world and apologizing for America aren’t working.  North Korea is not
just saber rattling.  They’ve taken the saber out of the sheath.  Iran
is moving headlong towards nuclearization.  Russia is on the same course
they were on.  And all of the apologies that he provided to the
Europeans have not led any of the European nations to provide additional
support for us in Afghanistan.Look, just sweet talk and criticizing America is not going to enhance freedom in the world. 

    STEPHANOPOULOS:  Others have argued, Governor, that the president’s
speech and the president’s outreach is one of the things that led to
Hezbollah being defeated in the Lebanese elections last week.  And one
of the things that led to such an outpouring in the streets in
opposition in Iran.  Do you dispute that? 

    ROMNEY:  You know, I can’t tell you what led to the people running
into the streets in Iran.  I hope, in fact, that they’re very anxious to
see new leadership in that country.  But I can tell you that the results
are what I’m interested in.  Is Iran still pursuing nuclear weaponry? 
And there’s no question about at. 

    And one aspect of what the president said may have been well
received in Iran, but I think it was poorly received in Israel and
around the world.  And that’s when — well, actually, he made a
180-degree flip from what he had said during the campaign.  During the
campaign, when he spoke to AIPAC, he said he would do everything in his
power to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.  And then he went to
Cairo and said that no single nation should have the ability to deny
another nation the right to have a nuclear weapon.  That is an
180-degree flip of a dangerous nature.  I’m sure it was welcome in many
streets in the Arab world and in the world that’s most — include the
Persian world, Iran as well.  But that’s not right for America.  That’s
not right for world security. 

    STEPHANOPOULOS:  I believe the administration has said that they
believe that Iran could have the right to nuclear power with appropriate
safeguards, but not a nuclear weapon. 

    But what would you do now then?  If you were president — you know,
it’s not just President Ahmadinejad in Iran who said that he believes
Iran should have a right to nuclear power.  It’s the supreme leader.  It
was — every candidate in the race said that Iran should have a right to
pursue nuclear power.

    ROMNEY:  We don’t have any question about nuclear power, and that
was not the statement that the president made that was most offensive. 
It was his statement that no single nation should have the ability to
deny another nation the right to nuclear weaponry. 

    Now, of course with regards to nuclear power, we have no problem
under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for nations to pursue nuclear
power.  And in the case of Iran, it’s pretty clear that’s not what
they’re doing.  When you sit on a lake of oil, you’re not looking for a
new source of energy.  They’re obviously developing this technology for
military purposes.  And offers were made, including by Russia, to
provide the necessary nuclear material for nuclear power, and the
Iranians turned that down.  So let’s not pretend or give into the
Iranian way of thinking, that somehow this is about nuclear power.  It’s
very clearly about nuclear weaponry.  And you also see, of course, the
same kind of outrage coming from North Korea.”  

Read my full interview with Romney HERE, including his thoughts on who speaks for the Republican Party. 
–George Stephanopoulos

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