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FW- TRANSCRIPT- Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the UK, Israel and Poland

FW- TRANSCRIPT- Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the UK, Israel and Poland

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FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the U...

https://nycowa2.timeinc.com/owa/?ae=Item&t=IPM.Note&id...

FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the UK, Israel and Poland
Lis Smith [LSmith@barackobama.com]
Sent:Monday, July 23, 2012 3:01 PM To: Seher, Jason - Time U.S. <jason_seher@timemagazine.com>

Here$you$go $
From: Lis Smith Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 1:54 PM To: Lis Smith Subject: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the UK, Israel and Poland

$

! ! ! TRANSCRIPT:!Press!Call!on!Mi4!Romney’s!Trip!to!the!UK,!Israel!and!Poland Monday,$July$23,$2012 ! ! NATIONAL!PRESS!SECRETARY!BEN!LABOLT!–!Thanks.$Hey$everybody,$thanks$for$joining$the$call$today.$We wanted$to$touch$base$with$you$before$Governor$Romney$headed$overseas$this$week.$On$the$line$we’ve$got former$White$House$Press$Secretary$Robert$Gibbs,$former$Undersecretary$of$Defense$for$Policy$Michele Flournoy,$and$also$Colin$Kahl,$the$former$Deputy$Assistant$Secretary$of$Defense$for$the$Middle$East.$We’ll$start off$with$some$remarks$and$then$open$it$up$for$Q&A. $ To$get$us$started,$I’ll$turn$the$call$over$to$Robert$Gibbs.$Robert? ! SENIOR!ADVISOR!ROBERT!GIBBS!–!Thanks,$Ben.$$And$thank$you$to$everybody$that’s$called$in$and$joined$us today. $ As$you$all$know,$this$week$MiW$Romney$is$beginning$his$foreign$policy$trip,$where$he’ll$need$to$prove$to$the American$people$that$he$sees$foreign$policy$issues$as$worthy$of$substanXve$discussion$rather$than$just generaliXes$and$sound$bites$in$this$campaign.$It’s$widely$accepted$that$President$Obama$has$an$excepXonally strong$record$on$naXonal$security$issues.$And$I$think$quite$frankly$that$MiW$Romney$is$having$a$rather$tough Xme$making$an$argument$against$the$President$of$the$United$States$on$these$issues.$But$this$trip$and$this campaign$begs$several$quesXons$and$I$think$MiW$Romney$owes$it$to$the$American$people$to$say$where$he stands$on$these$important$issues$as$he’s$trying$out$to$be$leader$of$the$free$world. $ I$remember$ge[ng$ready$for$this$trip$four$years$ago.$Obviously$at$that$point,$there$was$a$lot$of$discussion$in the$campaign$by$our$opponent$about$then$Senator$Obama’s$foreign$policy$credenXals$and$his$experience.$And whether$or$not$he$was$ready$to$perform$the$important$role$of$being$Commander\in\Chief.$Four$years$ago$this

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month,$we$took$that$trip$to$show$exactly$that.$That$this$was$a$person$who$was$ready$to$lead$America$on$the world$stage,$that$we$had$the$experience$to$implement$a$renewed$American$and$to$lead$the$world.$The$stakes around$the$trip$obviously$were$enormously$high$and$they$should$be$for$somebody$that’s$running$for$the posiXon$of$Commander\in\Chief. $ At$the$Xme$of$his$trip$obviously,$President—then$Senator$Obama,$excuse$me—had$spent$months$during$the primary$talking$about$a$host$of$naXonal$security$issues$and$outlined$very$specific$policies$on$many$of$the$most important$like$ending$the$war$in$Iraq,$refocusing$on$Afghanistan$and$al\Qaeda,$and$rebuilding$our$alliances throughout$the$world.$Those$are$policies$that$he$enumerated$on$this$trip$and$have$become$the$basis$and foundaXon$of$his$foreign$policy$acXons$as$President$of$the$United$States. $ He$knew$obviously$that$this$was$a$very$complicated$trip$and$like$this$trip$is$taking$place$at$an$enormously important$Xme$for$our$foreign$policy$in$a$number$of$important$countries$and$regions$around$the$world.$Again, most$importantly,$the$candidate$believed$that$the$American$people$deserved$to$hear$his$vision$of$foreign policy.$MiW$Romney$is$not$engaged$on$these$issues.$Instead$of$offering$specifics,$he’s$so$far$talked$only$in plaXtudes$and$criXcized$the$President.$Given$his$lack$of$experience$on$these$issues,$and$his$support$for$failed policies$that$were$pursued$during$the$Bush$AdministraXon,$I$think$this$trip$should$be$judged$on$the$type$of substanXve$ideas$that$MiW$Romney$outlines,$and$whether$he$would$conXnue$the$proven$policies$of$President Obama$or$return$us$to$a$Xme$in$which$our$foreign$policy$was$a$sore$spot,$quite$honestly,$in$the$world.$The American$people$deserve$to$know. $ I$think$it’s$helpful$just$to$spend$a$few$minutes,$and$I’ll$do$so$now,$sort$of$outlining$a$liWle$bit$about$what$we did$four$years$ago. $ First$and$foremost,$the$President$made$it$a$priority$to$visit$and$talk$with$our$troops$in$Afghanistan,$Iraq,$and Kuwait.$It$was$important$during$the$trip$to$meet$servicemen$and$women,$as$well$as$consult$commanders$in the$region$to$get$a$sense$of$the$situaXon$on$the$ground.$His$first$stop$was$in$Kuwait,$he$met$with$US$troops that$were$staXoned$there. $ Next,$he$went$to$Afghanistan$where$he$held$a$two\hour$working$lunch$with$President$Karzai,$President Karzai’s$NaXonal$Security$Advisor,$and$Afghanistan’s$ministers$of$Defense$and$Foreign$Affairs.$He$was$briefed by$US$commanders$at$Bagram$Air$Base$and$at$an$American$base$in$Jalalabad.$He$also$met$with$a$provincial governor$in$Jalalabad,$and$then$helicoptered$over$parts$of$Eastern$Afghanistan$that$border$Pakistan.$He$had breakfast$with$US$troops,$and$then$met$privately$with$US$military$leaders. $ Next,$Senator$Obama$traveled$then$to$Iraq,$met$with$a$wide$range$of$American,$BriXsh,$and$Iraqi$officials$in Basra$and$Baghdad.$He$was$briefed$by$General$Petraeus,$and$then$our$top$military$commander$in$Iraq, obviously$in$a$very$important$Xme$in$what$was$going$on$in$Iraq$and$decisions$that$were$going$to$be$made$and the$policies$that$the$President$pursued$to$get$our$troops$out$of$Iraq$and$returned$home.$He$had$dinner$with General$Petraeus$and$also$met,$and$had$dinner$with,$Ambassador$Crocker.$He$met$with$Iraqi$Prime$Minister Maliki,$President$Talabani,$Iraq’s$NaXonal$Security$Advisor,$as$well$as$Sunni$opposiXon$leadership.$In$Basra$he met$with$American$and$Iraqi$soldiers,$with$doctors,$nurses,$and$paXents$at$a$combat$support$hospital. $ Next$the$President$flew$to$and$landed$in$Jordan$where$we$had$a$press$conference$to$discuss$what$the President$had$seen$and$discussed$in$Iraq$and$Afghanistan.$He$had$a$one\on\one$session$with$King$Abdullah, who$then,$as$some$of$you$might$remember,$personally$drove$the$President$to$the$airport$at$a$high$rate$of speed$Secret$Service$got$sort$of$nervous$about.

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$ The$Senator$then$flew$to$Israel,$and,$acer$obviously$having$dinner$with$King$Abdullah,$landed$in$Israel$and$had substanXve$meeXngs$with$Israeli$and$PalesXnian$leaders.$On$the$Israeli$side$he$met$with$then$Prime$Minister Olmert,$President$Peres,$Defense$Minister$Ehud$Barak,$Foreign$Minister$Livni,$and$then$opposiXon$leader Benjamin$Netanyahu.$He$also$met$with$PalesXnian$Authority$President$Abbas$and$Prime$Minister$Fayyad. $ We$then$helicoptered$into$an$Israeli$town$near$the$Gaza$border$that$frequently$fell$vicXm$to$Hammas$rockets with$foreign$minister$Livni$and$defense$minister$Barak.$It$was$there$that$he$pledged$to$protect$the$Israeli people$and$as$president$he’s$funded$and$helped$Israel$build$the$Iron$Dome$system$that$protects$its$ciXzens today$from$these$deadly$rocket$aWacks. $ Senator$Obama$then$met$with$the$father$of$captured$Israeli$soldier$and$families$of$two$Israeli$soldiers$that$had been$captured$and$killed$by$Hezbollah,$and$visited$for$the$second$Xme$the$holocaust$museum$at$Yad$Vashem. $ Next$we$traveled$to$three$European$countries.$In$Germany,$Senator$Obama$met$with$Chancellor$Merkel, foreign$minister$Steinmeier$and$the$Mayor$of$Berlin. $ In$France$Senator$Obama$met$with$then$President$Sarkozy$and$held$a$joint$press$conference. $ In$the$United$Kingdom$Senator$Obama$held$a$series$of$meeXngs$with$then$Prime$Minister$Gordon$Brown, then$opposiXon$leader$David$Cameron,$former$Prime$Minister$Tony$Blair$before$returning$to$Chicago.$In$all these$discussions$he$focused$on$the$importance$of$strengthening$our$alliances$and$in$each$and$every$leg$of the$trip$outlined$specific$foreign$policy$ideas$that$have$shaped$the$policies$that$I’ve$said$earlier$he$pursued$as President$of$the$United$States,$whether$that$was$ending$the$war$in$Iraq,$increasing$our$presence$in Afghanistan$and$crushing$Al$Qaeda,$or$protecXng$Israel’s$security. $ We$traveled$with$a$group$of$about$forty$reporters.$We$did$press$conferences$I$menXoned$in$Jordan$and France,$did$a$press$avail$in$Israel,$we$sat$down$with$the$three$network$news$anchors$for$their$broadcasts during$parts$of$the$trip,$did$segments$on$Meet$the$Press$and$Face$the$NaXon$as$well$as$interviews$with$CNN and$Fox.$I$think$at$the$end$of$that$trip$the$American$people$knew$exactly$where$Barack$Obama$stood$on$all the$major$foreign$policy$issues$of$the$day.$The$quesXon$I$think$for$governor$Romney$is$whether$this$trip$will$be similarly$substanXve,$and$live$up$to$the$bar$that$was$set$in$2008,$or$whether$this$is$one$long$photo\op$and fundraising$tour.$It$will$be$interesXng$if$he$will$confront$these$issues$on$his$first$stop$in$London$when$he$meets with$David$Cameron$to$discuss,$I$presume,$things$such$as$Afghanistan. $ To$talk$about$some$of$the$specifics$along$the$way$of$this$trip$let$me$turn$over$to$Michele$Flournoy,$obviously the$former$undersecretary$of$the$defense$for$policy.$Michele? $ MICHELE!FLOURNOY,!FORMER!UNDER!SECRETARY!OF!DEFENSE!FOR!POLICY!JJ!Thanks,$Robert.$I’m$glad$to$be on$the$call$with$all$of$you.$I$think$the$record$has$been$very$clear$that$since$the$president’s$elecXon,$he$has been$successful$in$revitalizing$our$alliances,$especially$in$Europe.$And$has$strengthened$the$US$leadership posiXon$globally. $ The$US$and$the$UK$and$President$Obama$and$Prime$Minister$Cameron$have$a$very$close$relaXonship.$I$think it’s$fair$to$say$that$we’re$in$lockstep$on$every$major$foreign$policy$issue.$The$focus$on$alliances$is$not$just because$they’re$nice$to$have,$it’s$because$they’re$so$criXcal$to$addressing$the$kinds$of$challenges$we$face$in$a very$dynamic$and$complex$environment.$Alliances$are$a$force\mulXplier$whether$it’s$in$Afghanistan$and$Libya

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or$in$confronXng$Iran.$And$the$special$relaXonship$that$we’ve$have$with$the$BriXsh$has$always$been$at$the core$of$our$alliances,$whether$we’re$fighXng—historically$fighXng$fascism,$communism$and,$today,$terrorism. $ There$are$lots$of$policy$areas$where$we$could$talk$about$the$President$and$how$he’s$worked$hand\in\hand with$our$allies$in$the$UK,$but$today$$I$think$the$most$important$one$to$address$is$one—is$Afghanistan$because there$is$a$big$quesXon$here$that$I$think$Governor$Romney$needs$to$answer. $ We,$the$United$States,$the$BriXsh,$all$of$our$NATO$allies$have$a$plan—have$agreed$to$a$plan\\to$end$the$war$in Afghanistan$in$2014,$acer$more$than$a$decade$of$fighXng$there.$We$have$put$al\Qaeda$on$the$path$to$defeat, we’re$training$up$Afghan$forces$to$be$able$to$take$the$lead$and$protect$their$country.$We’re$essenXally accomplishing$the$core$of$what$we$went$into$Afghanistan$to$do$acer$9/11,$and$it’s$Xme$for$US$troops$to$begin coming$home. $ President$Obama,$Prime$Minister$Cameron$and$all$of$our$NATO$allies$are$in$complete$agreement$on$the Xmeline$to$end$NATO’s$mission—combat$mission$in$Afghanistan—by$the$end$of$2014$and$the$transiXon process$is$already$underway.$As$many$of$you$know,$we$have$some$33,000$American$troops$coming$home$by the$end$of$this$summer. $ But$one$of$the$few$foreign$policy$specifics$Romney$has$outlined$so$far$is$his$opposiXon$to$this$Xmeline.$So$the quesXon$I$have,$is$whether$Romney$will$double$down$on$his$opposiXon$to$the$plan$to$end$the$war$when$he meets$with$the$Prime$Minister$later$this$week?$How$will$he$address,$this$and$other$issues$where$he fundamentally$disagrees$with$our$BriXsh$friends$–$whether$it’s$the$importance$of$diplomaXc$talks$with$Iran,$or the$success$of$operaXons$we$undertook$together$in$Libya? $ I$think—you$know—voters$do$deserve$an$answer$to$these$quesXons.$If$Romney$wants$to$be$president,$if$he$is ready$to$be$Commander$in$Chief,$he$needs$to$prove$that$he’s$willing$to$have$open$and$honest$discussions about$his$worldview,$about$his$beliefs,$about$his$policies,$with$some$of$our$strongest$allies. $ Obviously$another$one$of$America’s$strongest$allies$is$Israel,$and$that’s$the$next$stop$on$Romney’s$trip$visit acer$the$United$Kingdom.$To$talk$a$liWle$bit$more$about$that,$I$want$to$turn$the$call$over$to$Colin$Kahl,$who served$with$me$at$the$Pentagon$as$Deputy$Assistant$Secretary$of$Defense$for$the$Middle$East.$Colin? $ COLIN!KAHL,!FORMER!DEPUTY!ASSISTANT!SECRETARY!OF!DEFENSE!FOR!THE!MIDDLE!EAST!JJ!Thanks, Michele.$Hi$everybody.$Thanks$for$being$on$the$call.$You$know,$as$we$all$know,$the$Middle$East$is$going through$an$preWy$intense$a$period$of$upheaval,$probably$more$intense$than$at$$any$other$Xme$in$recent memory.$In$Syria,$the$Assad$regime$appears$to$be$losing$control$of$the$country.$We’re$helping$numerous countries$navigate$their$transiXons$to$democracy,$in$places$like$Egypt,$Tunisia$and$Libya.$And$we’ve$brought the$internaXonal$community$together$to$confront$Iran’s$nuclear$ambiXons. ! All$of$these$complicated$issues$underscore$that$this$really$isn’t$the$Xme$for$anyone$to$be$playing$poliXcs$with our$foreign$policy$in$the$region.$It’s$just$too$important$to$play$poliXcs$with.$All$of$these$complicated$issues$are ones$that$that$the$President$started$to$address$when$he$did$his$trip$to$Israel$and$other$Middle$Eastern countries$back$in$2008.$And$I$think$a$lot$of$people$will$be$focusing$on$the$Israel$leg$of$Romney’s$trip.$So$let$me walk$through$some$of$the$policy$issues$there,$that$voters—I$think—are$expecXng$Romney$to$address$in$a serious$way$if$he$wants$to$be$Commander\in\Chief. $ Let$me$just$preface$this$by$also$saying$in$over$the$past$three$years,$I’ve$taken$14$trips$to$Israel$to$discuss

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regional$and$security$issues.$And$as$a$Pentagon$official$working$for$Michele,$I$literally$had$more$than$a hundred$meeXngs$with$Israeli$leaders$and$military$officers.$So$I$feel$like$I$know$these$issues$preWy$well$and quite$frankly,$I’m$perplexed$by$some$of$the$posiXons—or$I$should$say$lack$of$posiXons$and$clarity—that Romney$has$put$forward. $ A$few$weeks$ago,$when$he$was$asked$by$a$group$to$describe$his$Israel$policy,$Romney$basically$said$he$would “do$the$opposite”$of$what$President$Obama$has$done$for$Israel.$That$was$an$odd$comment$because$when$we take$Romney$at$his$word,$which$I$think$is$a$reasonable$thing$to$do$for$a$presidenXal$candidate,$that$would mean$he$would$do$the$opposite$of$securing$record$high$levels$of$security$assistance$funding$for$Israel.$It would$mean$he’d$do$the$opposite$of$helping$Israel$build$the$iron$dome$system$that$Romney$menXoned.$It$has already$saved$Israeli$lives$from$rockets$coming$from$the$Gaza$strip.$It$would$mean$he’d$do$the$opposite$of standing$up$for$Israel$at$the$United$NaXons,$the$opposite$of$sending$American$fire\fighXng$planes$to$help quench$the$Carmel$Forest$Fires,$and$the$opposite$of$intervening$to$help$save$the$lives$of$Israeli$diplomats trapped$in$the$Cairo$Embassy$last$fall. $ Would$Romney$really$do$the$opposite$of$all$these$things?$Does$he$disagree$with$Israeli$leaders$like$Prime Minister$Netanyahu,$or$President$Peres$or$Ehud$Barak,$the$current$minister$of$defense,$when$they$say President$Obama’s$support$for$Israel$has$been$a$“badge$of$honor”$and$that$our$relaXonship$is$the$closest$it’s been$in$history? $ Does$he$disagree$with$Ehud$Barak$when$he$describes$President$Obama’s$support$for$Israel$security$as$“wide, all$encompassing,$and$unprecedented”?$I$think$Governor$Romney$needs$to$say$something$about$that. $ Romney$will$undoubtedly$also$talk$about$the$Iranian$threat$when$he’s$abroad,$parXcularly$in$Israel.$While$he’s there,$the$American$people,$I$think,$expect$him$to$outline$a$plan$to$pressure$Iran$–$and$to$actually$say$exactly what$he$would$do$differently$from$what$President$Obama$is$already$doing.$Because,$frankly,$all$we’ve$goWen from$Romney$up$to$this$point$is$tough$talk.$All$the$actual$substance$that$he’s$put$forward,$whether$it$be$on sancXons$or$on$military$preparedness,$mirrors$precisely$what$President$Obama$has$already$done$to$put pressure$on$Tehran. $ Acer$all,$the$President$has$pledged$to$use$all$tools$of$American$power$to$stop$Iran$from$ge[ng$a$nuclear weapon.$He’s$led$internaXonal$efforts$to$put$the$toughest\ever$sancXons$on$Iran$while$working$closely$with Congress$to$impose$other$crippling$measures$–$all$while$keeping$a$credible$military$opXon$on$the$table$at$the ready.$And$as$a$result,$Iran$is$struggling$to$cope$with$the$impact$of$the$sancXons,$and$as$Xme$passes,$the pressure$will$only$conXnue$to$build.$So,$we$have$a$responsibility$to$use$the$Xme$and$space$that$exists$now$to try$to$solve$this$problem$diplomaXcally.$But$if$Romney$thinks$it’s$Xme$to$use$military$acXon$against$Iran$and abandon$the$diplomacy$prematurely,$then$I$think$he$owes$it$to$the$American$people$to$actually$say$so. $ When$Romney$departs$from$Israel,$his$next$stop$will$be$Poland.$So$I’m$going$to$turn$the$call$back$over$to Michele$to$say$a$few$words$about$that$before$we$open$it$up$for$your$quesXons.$Michele? $ FLOURNOY—Thanks$very$much,$Colin. $ When$Romney$goes$to$Poland,$I$think$that$we$can$expect$he’ll$likely$be$focused$on$Russia.$He$may$suggest that$this$administraXon’s$recess$policy$has$worked$at$the$expense$of$our$Eastern$European$allies.$Nothing could$be$further$from$the$truth.$When$you$look$at$our$relaXonship$with$Poland$and$other$Eastern$European allies,$they$are$stronger$than$ever$both$diplomaXcally,$but$parXcularly$in$the$securiXes,$where$we’ve

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FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the U...

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substanXally$increased$our$defense$cooperaXon.$When$you$look,$for$example,$at$missile$defense,$this administraXon$is$on$the$path$to$deploy,$now$blessed$by$NATO,$missile$defense$system$for$all$of$Europe,$with significant$parts$of$that$system$being$based$in$Poland. $ I$think$when$President$Obama$visited$Poland,$he$reaffirmed$the$importance$of$the$relaXonship.$We’ve followed$that$up$with$concrete$investments$in$their$security$and$defense$over$and$about$what$the$previous administraXon$had$done.$And$Poland$has$been$very$supporXve$of$a$number$of$US$policies$including supporXng$our$New$START$Treaty$with$Russia.$$Everyone$recognizes$how$at$Xmes$the$relaXonship$with$Russia is$difficult$and$there$are$areas$that$we$will$have$disagreement.$Syria$is$a$notable$recent$example.$But$we$also benefit$tremendously$from$our$ability$to$work$with$Russia$on$criXcal$issues.$We$supply$our$troops$in Afghanistan$through$Russian$territory.$We$got$Russia$on$board$for$the$toughest\ever$sancXons$for$both$Iran and$North$Korea.$$And$we$certainly$made$progress$together$on$reducing$the$threat$of$nuclear$weapons. Frankly$we$wouldn’t$be$able$to$sustain$this$cooperaXon$if$we$went$back$to$the$Cold$War,$or$Cold$War$thinking, and$treated$them$like$our$top$enemy$in$the$world$today. $ I$think$many$of$you$will$remember$when$Romney$said$that$Russia$was$“our$number$one$geopoliXcal$foe.”$And most$people$remember$that$his$comment$was$widely$panned$both$by$DemocraXc$and$Republican$foreign policy$experts.$$Even$Colin$Powell$said$in$his$response$to$Romney’s$comments,$“Come$on$MiW,$think,$this$isn’t the$case.”$$The$quesXon$is$will$he$repeat?$Will$Romney$repeat$that$kind$of$rhetoric$when$he$lands$in$Warsaw next$Monday?$$I$think$it$remains$to$be$seen. $ The$boWom$line$is$that$we’ve$made$a$lot$of$progress$in$the$last$three$and$a$half$years.$$We$ended$one$war$in Iraq,$we$have$a$plan$to$end$the$war$in$Afghanistan,$and$al\Qaeda$is$now$the$shadow$of$what$it$was$when$they aWacked$us$on$9/11.$$And$we’ve$rebuilt$our$alliances$in$Europe$and$Asia$and$LaXn$America$and$restored American$leadership$around$the$world.$$You’re$likely$to$hear$a$lot$from$the$Romney$campaign$on strengthening$our$alliances$on$this$trip,$but$I$think$it’s$important$for$us$to$all$remember$a$liWle$bit$of$history and$the$incredible$strains$that$the$Bush$AdministraXon$and$its$policies$put$on$those$alliances.$$These$are$the same$policies$that$Romney$has$been$a$lot$of$the$Xme$endorsing.$$By$any$measure$I$would$argue$they—our alliances—$are$stronger$today$under$President$Obama$than$they’ve$been$at$any$Xme$in$recent$memory. $ We$face$a$number$of$challenges$going$forward—we$as$a$country—and$they$can’t$be$faced$with$just$poliXcal talking$points$and$plaXtudes$criXcizing$your$opponent.$They$really$require$serious$people$with$serious$ideas and$people$who$understand$the$complexiXes$of$the$world$that$we$live$in.$$Romney$hasn’t$really$told$us$yet how$he$would$confront$these$challenges.$$And$so$this$trip$is$an$opportunity$for$him$to$do$so,$and$we$look forward$to$what$he$has$to$say.$$With$that$let$me$turn$it$back$over$to$Ben.$$Thanks.$ $ LABOLT$–$Thank$you$all$and$with$that$I$think$we’ll$open$it$up$for$any$quesXons.$Please$state$your$name$and outlet$before$you$ask$a$quesXon.$Operator$can$you$let$everybody$know$how$to$ask$a$quesXon? $ GEORGE!CONDON!(NATIONAL!JOURNAL)$–$Yes,$thank$you.$I$just$wanted$to$ask$two$quick$quesXons.$One,$you didn’t$menXon$anything$about$the$fact$that$Governor$Romney$is$doing$fundraisers$on$this$trip.$Senator Obama$did$not$do$fundraisers,$as$I$recall.$You$can$comment$on$the$appropriateness$of$it.$$And$secondly,$is there$any$fear$that$this$trip$can$have$a$impact$on$the$Jewish$vote$in$the$United$States. $ LABOLT!–$Gibbs$you$want$to$take$fundraisers,$and$Colin$can$you$take$the$Israel$quesXon? $ GIBBS$–$Hey$George,$you$recall$correctly$–$we$did$not$do$fundraisers$on$our$trip.$You$know$in$many$ways

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FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the U...

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some$of$the$early$iXneraries$look$like$Romney’s$trip$might$be$almost$enXrely$built$around$fundraising.$I’ll$let them$get$into$the$appropriateness$of$all$of$that$obviously.$$You$know$we’ve$sent$surrogates$overseas$to$do fundraisers$for—or$with$American$ciXzens.$I$think$though$$the$real$quesXon$George$it$gets$back$to$all$three$of us$have$said$and$that$is$the$American$people$demand$and$require$something$greater$of$their$poliXcal candidates$than$speaking$to$a$fundraising$recepXon.$They$want$to$know$how$you’re$going$to$lead$this$country in$an$ever$increasingly$dangerous$world.$What$is$your$policy$towards$Afghanistan?$$What$are$you$going$to$tell Prime$Minister$Cameron?$$What$are$you$going$to$tell$the$Israelis$in$terms$of—as$was$noted$earlier$doing$the opposite$of$what$Barack$Obama$has$done.$You$know$I$read$a$few$of$the$previews$for$this$trip$for$Governor Romney$and$you$know,$they$went,$it$seems,$through$extraordinary$length$to$say$they$weren’t$going$to$lay$out details$for$this$trip.$$One$even$saying$he’s$going$to$make$two$major$speeches$but$not$give$details$about$policy. I$don’t$know$how$you$give$a$major$foreign$policy$speech$and$not$give$policy$details.$I$mean$it’s$one$thing$to$do generaliXes$and$plaXtudes$on$a$campaign$trail,$but$to$go$to$these$countries$where$these$issues$are$crucially important$and$obviously$are$very$important\\$enormously$important$back$home,$and$not$give$details.$And$I think$the$bar$really$is$whether$or$not$MiW$Romney’s$finally$going$to$shed$a$liWle$light$on$what$appears$to$be the$secrecy$of$his$foreign$policy$plan. $ KAHL\$Yeah,$you$know$I’m$not$going$to$make$a$bunch$of$poliXcal$predicXons$about$what$the$effect$of$the$trip will$be.$I$mean$frankly$I$think$that$the$focus$should$be$on$ge[ng$Governor$Romney$to$finally$be$specific$on$a lot$of$the$substanXve$issues$he’s$been$vague$about$at$this$point.$I$think$as$it$relates$specifically$to$Jewish voters$in$Israel,$I$think$it’s$been$preWy$clear$that$Jewish$voters$have$been$very$supporXve$of$President$Obama. They$voted$overwhelmingly$for$him$four$years$ago.$They’ve$been$very$supporXve$of$the$DemocraXc$Party. Obviously$they$care$passionately$about$Israel’s$security$and$I$think$for$that$reason$they$understand$that$the Obama$administraXon$has$taken$unprecedented$steps,$historic$steps$to$improve$Israel’s$security.$I$mean$in$the last$three$years$alone$despite$our$tough$budgetary$circumstances,$the$President$has$worked$with$Congress$to secure$Israel$more$than$$10$billion$in$security$assistances.$Not$to$menXon$hundreds$of$millions$of$dollars$over and$above$that$to$fund$their$rocket$and$missile$defense$systems,$systems$that$our$protecXng$Israelis$as$we speak.$What’s$really$interesXng$about$contrasXng$the$Obama$trip$to$Israel$with$Romney’s$trip$now$is$that$it wasn’t$a$poliXcal$trip,$it$was$a$substanXve$trip,$and$one$of$the$places$he$landed$was$in$Sderot,$that$community in$Southern$Israel$that$had$been$vicXmized$by$PalesXnian$rocket$fire$from$the$Gaza$strip,$and$President Obama$is$really$one$of$these$guys$who$means$what$he$says$and$does$what$he$says.$He$said$he$would$protect Israel’s$security$when$he$became$President;$he$worked$with$congress$to$get$hundreds$of$millions$of$dollars over$and$above$their$annual$security$systems$package$to$fund$the$iron$dome$system$to$protect$the$new precisely$like$Sderot$from$rocket$fire$so$I$think$Jewish$voters$in$the$United$States$understand$how$important Israel$is$to$this$administraXon$and$how$much$the$administraXon$has$done,$and$frankly$I$suspect$is$what$they are$really$perplexed$about$is$not$where$President$Obama$stands,$but$what$Governor$Romney$meant$when$he said$his$that$policy$would$be$the$opposite$of$what$the$Obama$administraXon’s$policy$was$since$that$would mean$flashing$money$and$cu[ng$back$on$support$programs$like$iron$dome$and$abandoning$efforts$for$a two\state$soluXon$and$throwing$Israel$under$the$bus$at$the$United$NaXons$and$lessening$our$pressure$on$Iran. I$mean$if$he$really$means$that$then$I$wish$him$the$best$of$luck$with$that$argument. $ SARA!MURRAY!(WALL!STREET!JOURNAL)$–$Hi$guys,$thanks$for$doing$the$call.$$I$imagine$that$one$of$the$things we$are$going$to$hear$when$we’re$in$Israel$is$the$fact$that$the$President$hasn’t$been$there$since$he$became President,$and$I’m$just$curious$what$your$response$is$to$that,$how$we$should$be$thinking$about$that? $ KAHL$–$Sara,$thanks$for$that.$Look,$President$Obama$visited$Israel$in$2008$as$a$candidate,$just$as$Romney$is doing$now.$I$think$we$can$expect$him$to$visit$Israel$in$the$second$term,$should$he$be$re\elected.$More importantly,$being$a$friend$to$Israel,$at$least$in$our$view,$shouldn’t$be$judged$purely$by$a$travel$iXnerary.$The

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FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the U...

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President$has$been$to$Israel$mulXple$Xmes$before,$but$more$than$that$he$has$backed$up$his$words$with$deeds. I$gave$the$example$of$him$visiXng$Sderot$in$2008,$and$then$as$President$actually$moving$forward$on$funding the$iron$dome$system.$The$iron$dome$system,$I$should$say,$is$only$part$of$a$robust$package$of$missile$defense systems$that$the$United$States$is$helping$to$finance.$In$fact,$our$cooperaXon$on$missile$defense$with$Israel$is unquesXonably$beWer$than$it’s$ever$been.$And$it’s$not$just$aimed$at$protecXng$Israeli$ciXzens$from$rockets from$Gaza$or$southern$Lebanon,$but$from$missiles$that$Hezbollah$could$fire,$that$Syria$could$fire$or$Iran$could fire.$In$fact$this$fall,$the$United$States$and$the$Israeli$military$will$hold$the$largest$joint$military$exercise$in$their history,$aimed$precisely$at$improving$coordinaXon$and$defending$Israel$against$missile$threats$from$around the$region. $ So,$look$I$really$think$the$most$important$thing$is$to$focus$on$what$President$Obama$has$done$whether$it$be on$missile$defense$or$whether$it$be$standing$up$for$Israel$at$the$United$NaXons$or$not$allowing$the PalesXnians$to$short$circuit$the$peace$process$at$the$UN.$I$think$the$administraXon’s$support$and$cooperaXon for$Israel$has$been$unprecedented. ! And$I$would$just$make$one$final$point$and$that$is,$you$know,$the$Republicans$are$likely$to$criXcize$Obama$for not$visiXng$during$his$first$term.$It’s$relevant$to$point$out$that$Ronald$Reagan$never$visited$Israel.$George$W. Bush$didn’t$visit$Israel$unXl$the$final$year$in$office,$the$final$year$of$his$second$term.$And$obviously Republicans$weren’t$criXcizing$him$for$his$commitment$on$Israel$as$a$result$of$that$travel$iXnerary. $ So$I$don’t$really$think$this$is$a$serious$policy$difference.$I$think$it’s$basically$a$distracXon.$It$doesn’t$really$say anything$on$the$commitment$the$Obama$administraXon$has$had$to$Israel’s$security,$which$Israeli$officials acknowledge$has$been$historic$and$unprecedented. $ LABOLT!–!Next$quesXon. $ JOSH!GERSTEIN!(POLITICO)!–!Hi,$thanks$for$doing$the$call.$I$wanted$to$ask$if$you$guys$could$address$Romney’s personal$relaXonship$with$Netanyahu.$If$we$were$to$go$by$this$call,$we$would$think$the$Obama administraXon’s$relaXonship$with$the$Israeli$administraXon$over$the$past$three$and$a$half$years$has$been hunky\dory,$and$that$also$seems$a$liWle$bit$unrealisXc.$So,$do$you$think$the$US$might$gain$some$advantage$in$a Netanyahu$administraXon$because$the$two$men$have$some$pre\exisXng$relaXonship?$And$could$you$also address$whether$you$think$the$US$relaXonship$across$the$board$has$not$been$tumultuous$with$Israel$over$the past$three$and$a$half$years? $ KAHL!J!So$you$know,$it’s$interesXng.$Prime$Minister$Netanyahu$was$asked$basically$recently$about$this$on$Fox News$the$other$day$and$said$that$I’m$not$going$to$get$into$your$poliXcal$quesXons.$He$basically$avoided$saying anything$about$Governor$Romney.$So$I$think$in$that$case,$Netanyahu’s$insXncts$were$right.$It’s$really$that$the poliXcs$of$this$are$less$relevant$than$the$substance. $ I$think$it’s$incumbent$upon$Governor$Romney$to$criXcize,$or$try$to$criXcize,$what$the$President$has$actually done.$I$think$that’s$going$to$be$hard$because$of$the$things$he’s$done$for$Israel’s$security.$Look,$I$think$that we’re$all$aware$of$the$opXcs$and$some$of$the$poliXcs$of$personal$relaXonships$in$the$last$couple$years$in$the US\Israeli$relaXonship.$But$I$think$Israeli$leaders$have$acknowledged$that$their$relaXonship$is$as$strong$as$it’s ever$been$and$in$many$ways,$it’s$stronger.$I$think$it’s$worth$remembering$that$Prime$Minister$Netanyahu,$acer President$Obama’s$speech$here$at$the$AIPAC$conference,$and$I$quote$“If$there’s$one$thing$that$stands$out clearly$in$the$Middle$East$today,$it’s$that$Israel$and$America$stand$together.”$Unquote.$And$that$was$from Netanyahu$just$a$few$months$ago.

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FW: TRANSCRIPT: Press Call on Mitt Romney’s Trip to the U...

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$ So,$look,$I$think$that$the$relaXonship$between$the$United$States$and$Israel$is$in$good$shape.$I$think$we$share, in$many$respects,$a$common$vision$in$the$region.$We$certainly$share$a$commitment$for$Israel’s$security$and we’ve$been$doing$things$over$and$over$and$over$again.$The$President$has$to$make$concrete$improvements$in Israel’s$security$and$I$really$think$that$should$be$the$focus. $ LABOLT!–!We’ve$got$Xme$for$one$final$quesXon. $ DAVID!CORN!(MOTHER!JONES)!–$Hi$guys,$thanks$for$doing$this.$Robert,$I$guess,$this$is$probably$for$you.$Can you$just$take$a$step$back$and$give$us$a$sense$of$what$the$campaign$thinks$the$row$of$foreign$policy$is$going$to be$in$this$elecXon$with$6%$of$people$undecided$at$this$point?$Do$you$expect$it$to$have$a$major$role?$Do$you feel$the$President$has$to$do$anything$beyond$touXng$what$you’ve$considered$to$be$his$accomplishments? Does$he$talk$about$what$he’d$like$to$do$on$the$foreign$policy$front$should$he$win? $ GIBBS!–!Thanks,$David.$Let$me–a$couple$different$points.$I$think$first$and$foremost$to$your$laWer$point$which is,$you$know,$look.$When$you’re$the$President$of$the$United$States$every$day,$you’re$involved$in$foreign$policy and$you’re$on$the$world$stage$and$you’re$making$decisions$that$affect$our$security$and$relaXonships$all$over the$world.$So$I$think$for$President$Obama,$this$is$an$ongoing$thing.$It$conXnues,$obviously,$each$and$every$day and$we’ve$got$very$complicated$situaXons$throughout$the$world. $ I$think$probably$the$two$that$come$most$to$mind,$obviously,$are$Afghanistan$and$Iran’s$pursuit$of$nuclear weapons.$I$think$that$foreign$policy$is$going$to$play$a$role$in$this$elecXon$because$the$American$people$want to$understand$what$the$vision$of$each$of$these$two$candidates$is$and$the$role$that$they$see$for$America$in$the world.$And$how,$quite$frankly,$that$affects$all$their$other$policies.$In$other$words,$if$MiW$Romney$wants$to,$as he$said,$keep$troops$there$longer$than$2014—that$has$policy$implicaXons$for$a$whole$host$of$not$just$foreign policy$decisions,$but$domesXc$policy$decision.$So$I$think$that$voters$want$to$know$where$these$guys$stand, what$specific$policies$that$they$would$pursue$in$each$administraXon. $ I$think$that$the$President$has$used$this$trip$as$a$foundaXon$four$years$ago$to$set$forth$a$whole$series$of policies$that$he$has$and$will$conXnue$to$pursue$on$very$important$issues,$whether$it’s$missiles$and$nuclear weapons$as$was$menXoned$here,$whether$it$is$a$whole$host$of$other$issues:$democracy$and$the$role$of$our military$in$places$like$Afghanistan. $ LABOLT!J!With$that,$we’re$going$to$have$to$wrap.$If$you$need$a$transcript,$please$email press@barackobama.com$and$we’ll$make$sure$to$get$it$to$you.$Thanks$everybody. $ $ $ $ $ $ Lis$Smith Obama$for$America 312\985\1703,$Desk 224\567\9062,$Cell $

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