Mitt Romney and his campaign team have struggled quite a bit when it comes to speaking coherently on U.S. policy towards Iran, but the difficulties took an interesting twist yesterday when the Republican presidential hopeful seemed to praise President Obama's existing policy.
For those who can't watch clips online, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Romney whether there's "any daylight" between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Republican responded:
"There's no daylight between the United States and Israel. We have coincidental interests. We share values, and we're both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.... But I can tell you this, that the crippling sanctions do have an impact. They're having an impact on Iran's economy right now. They will have an impact on the public there in Iran. And there's great hope and real prospects for dissuading Iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting."
Is it possible Romney has struggled badly when it comes to Iran because he's secretly satisfied with the course Obama has already set?
Keep in mind, in his latest "major" speech on foreign policy, Romney argued in Virginia this week that he intends to "put the leaders of Iran on notice," sketching out a series of steps he'll pursue if elected.
It led Fred Kaplan to explain, "Obama has long been doing all of these things. He has ratcheted up sanctions and persuaded others (including Russia) to go along, to the point where Iran's currency has plummeted by 40 percent, prompting the merchant class to protest in the streets. Two aircraft carriers have been on constant patrol within range of Iran since the summer. And U.S. security assistance to Israel, as its own defense minister said, is at near-peak levels."
And it's against this backdrop that Romney, without mentioning the president specifically, praised the efficacy of the Obama administration's existing policy. What's the point, then, of Romney's frequent complaining about the president's approach to Iran?