Romney: If you mean what you say, Mr. President, namely that we have an unshakeable bond with Israel, why then have you so deliberately put a distance between yourself and Prime Minister Netanyahu?
Obama: I speak to him two or three times a week.
Romney: If I may say so, I don’t think that answers my question.
Obama: Being close friends does not mean we have to see eye to eye on every issue.
Romney: Nor does it mean that one party to the friendship has an open door to those who wish to undermine it.
Obama: We have no such thing. Prime Minister Netanyahu understands perfectly well that for the peace process to proceed the United States has to have an open door to all those prepared to negotiate in good faith.
Romney: On the unrealistic basis of the 1967 borders. That is what the prime minister objects to.
Obama: Some adjustments could be negotiated. Look, governor, it is no secret that we have been critical of some of the steps the Israeli government has taken to make the negotiations with the Palestinians unnecessarily difficult. And that we have vigorously expressed our displeasure whenever our advice has been disregarded, especially with regard to the building of additional settlements on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. That does not mean we favour those who – how did you put it, governor? – wish to undermine our friendship with Israel.
Romney: But it does mean that in your time, while the world has been watching, the advice the president of the United States has given to a close friend has been openly disregarded. That is what I mean when I say that under your watch, Mr. President, the influence of the United States in the world has dramatically waned. I will reverse this trend.
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So why did this exchange not take place?
Because Romney understood that taking a line that would please many Jewish voters would displease the substantially larger number of sympathizers with the Palestinian cause.