OTR Interviews

Romney the unapologetic vs. Obama the 'ashamed': GOP candidate vows to atone for administration's 'shabby' treatment of Israel

Amb. John Bolton contrasts Mitt Romney's worldview of America with the president's foreign policy

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Governor Mitt Romney shifting his focus away from the economy. He is now blasting President Obama on foreign policy. Tomorrow, Governor Romney leaves for a trip to England, Poland and Israel. But first, while he remains on American soil, he is slamming President Obama for his treatment of Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since I wouldn't venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I'll tell you right here before I leave what I think of this administration's shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel's leaders. He's even caught -- he was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He's undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel's enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem!

The people of Israel deserve better than what they've received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus -- and the chorus of accusations and threats and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the president of the United States!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton joins us, and an early endorser, I might add, of Governor Romney. What haven't we done for Israel? Governor Romney says that we've had sort of a shabby treatment of Israel by this president. But what haven't we done?

JOHN BOLTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: Well, for the first three-and-a-half years of the Obama administration, we've acted like Israel building apartments in East Jerusalem is the principal threat to international peace security in the Middle East.

We've looked at the region through the wrong end of the telescope. And I think by putting the burden, the responsibility for all of the turmoil in the region on Israel, by relieving the Palestinians of any real obligation to negotiate, he's actually set the peace process back.

And I think that has kind of set a standard. I think beyond that, the treatment of Iran's nuclear weapons program has been profoundly mishandled. I don't see that just as an Israeli issue. I think Iran's quest for nuclear weapons is a global threat, but obviously, Israel is the most immediately affected by it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what I find particularly interesting about this trip is that he is setting the agenda. Vice President Biden had a tweet earlier tonight that we've put up on the screen in which Vice President Biden said -- he, meaning President Obama, has done more for Israel's security than any president since Harry Truman. So obviously, you know...

BOLTON: That's ridiculous! That's just ridiculous! This is the most hostile president since the state of Israel was created! He's demonstrated that hostility right from the beginning of his administration. Those speeches Governor Romney referred to at the United Nations, going back to September of 2009, where he laid out his view that Israel should be confined to the 1967 boundaries, really, the 1949 cease-fire lines, unless the Palestinians agreed to land swaps.

This has been very, very restrictive on Israel and it has cost the United States and Israel and its Arab friends in the region.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of diplomacy, the fact that he hasn't been to Israel as president -- his first trip, overseas trip, I think, was to Egypt, if I'm correct on that -- you know, there's a lot of sort of chatter about that. Is that -- does that resonate? Does it make any difference in Israel? Is it symbolic? Or is it just something we in the media chatter about?

BOLTON: Well, I think it's -- it's symbolic but it comes with an edge to it. The fact that the president went to Egypt to give a major speech to the Muslim world but couldn't find time to slip into Israel for a visit -- you can't miss the symbolism of that.

I think, though, it is the broader mistreatment of Israel, of denigrating its role as an important ally, not understanding the contribution it has made to security in the Middle East that's the real problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: But isn't it almost -- I mean, like, almost an impossible problem -- I interviewed for a charity former prime minister Tony Blair, and he said that he, as a special -- he is a special envoy trying to resolve things in the region. And he said to me that he told his wife that he'd been to the area since he's been prime minister something like 83 times. And she said to him, It's not about how many times you've gone, it's have you gotten any product.

BOLTON: Well, but I think the...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, obviously, she was teasing him.

BOLTON: ... the same standard applies to the Obama administration. And after having created a conceptual framework that Israel is the problem -- and that's fundamentally what it comes down to, that the Israeli intransigence in not making more concessions to the Palestinians is the obstacle to peace -- what has he achieved? Zip.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what is Governor Romney's goal in his trip to Israel? What does he want to achieve?

BOLTON: Well, I think he's demonstrating part of the key point he made in his speech to the VFW today, and that is that a strong American presence in the world, together with our alliance systems, helps guarantee sustained prosperity here at home and that America will -- under his administration will treat its friends like friends and its adversaries like adversaries.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of friends like friends, Governor Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu have -- they've been friends -- they've known each other for years.

BOLTON: Going back to days at Boston Consulting Group.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is what, about 30 years going back, at least, that they've known each other. In terms -- let me just ask you about his trip to Poland. What -- Governor Romney's going from -- from London to Israel to Poland. What does he want -- what is he attempting to do in Poland?

BOLTON: Well, I expect he's going to hear from a number of Polish leaders. He wants to meet with Lech Walesa. And he'll hear what it's like to be on the edge of Russia's sphere of influence as it uses its oil and natural gas weapons to pressure Eastern and Central Europe. He'll learn about some of the difficulties inside the European Union.

I think it's a very valuable opportunity to hear from a first-class American ally in Poland what the situation in Europe is.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, today, he said that he was making his criticism on American soil. I guess that's to tell us that while he's overseas, tell America that he won't be making -- I take it no swipes at President Obama's foreign policy.

BOLTON: I think his campaign has made it clear he's going to listen to a lot of different people. You know, in London, it's not just attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics. A lot of heads of state and foreign ministers will be there with their teams. He'll have a chance for bilateral meetings. So it really will be a working visit.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there's something to be said, is that we don't as a -- I mean, a politician -- or not politicians, but representatives of the United States aren't supposed to make a critical remark overseas.

BOLTON: Well, I think it's very commendable that he's going to try and uphold that standard. There are very few politicians who still do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.