President Obama called Mitt Romney's allegation that he went on an “apology tour” in his first year in office the “biggest whopper” of the campaign and proceeded to slam his Republican adversary for raising money during his trip to Israel this summer.
“Nothing Gov. Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing,” Obama said. “This has been probably the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of this campaign.”
“Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq,” Romney said, refusing to back down on his claims. “And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And, by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV you said that America had been dismissive and derisive.”
“I think they looked at that and saw weakness,” Romney said. “It's essential for a president to show strength from the very beginning.”
While Obama has not visited Israel even once during his entire term in office, he attempted to refute Romney’s claims by recalling his 2008 campaign trip to the Jewish state.
“When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors,” the president said, alluding to Romney’s trip to Jerusalem this summer.
“I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable,” he said.
Obama also mentioned his visit to Sderot saying, “I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms, and I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids.”
“Which is why, as president, we funded an ‘Iron Dome’ program to stop those missiles,” he added, in an attempt to garner Jewish votes. “So that's how I've used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region.”
Despite the president’s claims, however, Obama is largely seen as a president who "leads from behind" on issues of foreign policy, particularly with regard to his hostile relationship with Israel, his feeble stance on Iran, and his handling of the recent crisis in Libya.