On Iran, Romney says he sees eye to eye with Netanyahu
Mitt Romney on Tuesday said that he would use the same test to evaluate Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program as would Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a wide-ranging interview on CNN's "The Situation Room," the Republican presidential nominee also defended his proposed U.S. tax model and shed light on how he would handle the civil war in Syria.
Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that there should be "no daylight between the United States and Israel," and emphasized that military action against Iran would not be imminent.
"We share values, and we're both absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon," Romney said. "My own test is that Iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. I think that's the same test that Benjamin Netanyahu would also apply."
Last month, Netanyahu asked the United Nations General Assembly to draw a "clear red line" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Holding up a picture of a bomb and drawing a line below the fuse, the Israeli prime minister said, "a red line should be drawn right here, before Iran completes a second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb, before Iran gets to a point where it's a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon."
Iran's ambassador to the United Nations has called Netanyahu's remarks "entirely baseless."
On Tuesday, Romney said "there's great hope and real prospects for dissuading Iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting."
"Let's also recognize that we have a long way to go before military action may be necessary," Romney said. "And hopefully it's never necessary. Hopefully, through extremely tight sanctions, as well as diplomatic action, we can prevent Iran from taking a course which would lead to them crossing that line."
But should military action be necessary, he said "the actions of Israel would not come as a surprise to me," because he and the country's leaders would be in close touch.
Elsewhere in the region, Romney explained how he would handle the civil war in Syria: by working with allies in the region, particularly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and identifying "voices within Syria that are reasonable voices, that are moderate voices, that are not al Qaeda or any jihadist-type group."
"We try to coalesce those groups together, provide them perhaps with funding," Romney said, also suggesting coordinating with those allies to arm the groups.
"But the key thing here is not just to sit back and hope things work out well, but to recognize that Iran is playing a major role in Syria, and we through our friends in the region must also be playing a role to ensure what's happening there and make sure we rid ourselves of Mr. Assad and don't have in his place chaos or some kind of organization which is as bad as he is or even worse take his place," he explained.
Domestically, Romney addressed Democratic criticism of his tax model, which he described as "inaccurate and wrong."
President Barack Obama charged at last Wednesday's debate that Romney's proposal to reduce rates would cost $5 trillion dollars, while Romney countered that he would not support a tax plan that would add to the federal deficit.
"The combination of limiting deductions and credits and exemptions as well as growth in our economy will make up for the reduction in rate," Romney told CNN Tuesday.
Pressed by Blitzer, Romney did not specify what credits and exemptions he would reduce, but he suggested two possible routes: to either limit the total amount in tax credits which could be claimed on a return, or put a ceiling on how much one could claim from a specific credit. The final plan, he said, would be worked out with Congress and follow four basic guidelines.
"I've made it pretty clear that my principles are: number one, simplify the code; number two, create incentives for small businesses and large businesses to grow; number three, don't reduce the burden on high-income taxpayers; and number four, remove the burden somewhat for middle-income people," he said. "So I don't want to raise taxes on any group of Americans."
Romney spoke to CNN shortly before holding a rally with supporters in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
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