Mitt Romney’s campaign is pushing back on controversial comments he made at a May fundraiser that were secretly taped. No, not those controversial comments. Romney is also under fire for a portion of the video in which he says he does not intend to pursue a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
The Romney campaign contends that the original clip of the video released Tuesday by Mother Jones was deliberately edited to omit a key element of Romney’s position. The campaign confirmed to TPM it believes the MidEast portion of the video is the only part that was selectively edited.
The Obama campaign charged that Romney’s comments suggest he would “walk away from a peace process.” The Romney campaign said he supports an eventual peace achieved by staunch support of Israel.
“You heard on the tapes released this week that it’s Mitt Romney who would walk away from the peace process,” Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the Obama campaign, said on MSNBC Wednesday.
Later in the afternoon, the Romney campaign shot back.
“President Obama’s record on the Middle East is one of lofty promises and non-existent achievements,” spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “Unable to defend the president’s record, his spokespeople are launching patently untrue and disproven attacks. Gov. Romney believes that the path to a two-state solution is American strength and resolve and to ensure the security of Israel.”
To back up his assertion that the attacks are “untrue,” Williams’s email linked to a Politico article showing that during the May fundraiser, Romney said that staunch support for Israel might one day lead to a settlement — remarks that were left out of the first clips released by Mother Jones. Romney’s full remarks were included when Mother Jones released the complete video.
In the original clip, Romney essential ruled out the possibility of the two-state solution and argued that anything but staunch support of Israel would be fruitless.
“And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, ‘There’s just no way,’” Romney said after assessing the logistical problems with a peace settlement. “And so what you do is you say, ‘You move things along the best way you can.’ You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.”
The Romney campaign confirmed to TPM that it believes the video was edited to omit Romney saying: “So, the only answer is show your strength. Again, American strength, American resolve, as the Palestinians someday reach the point where they want peace more than we’re trying to push peace on them — and then it’s worth having the discussion. Until then, it’s just wishful thinking.”
“They put up a selectively [edited] video of the Middle East answer,” the Romney campaign told TPM in an email. “It deliberately omitted the last part of his response which only came to light a day later when they released the full video.”
The comments left out of the original video do indeed suggest that Romney believes strong support for Israel is the best path to a settlement. But that belief does not contradict LaBolt’s contention — that Romney is not interested in pursuing an immediate peace process. LaBolt confirmed to TPM that he stands by his comments, based on Romney’s assertion in the video that his approach to negotiations would be to “kick the ball down the field.”
Evan McMorris-Santoro contributed to this story.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.