Romney says regularly updated by Israeli officials on Mideast affairs
Republican presidential candidate tells donors at campaign retreat he would do more than Obama to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Mitt Romney told donors attending his campaign's Utah retreat that he is briefed on the Middle East by Israeli government officials.
About 50 of the 700 donors who attended the retreat this weekend in Park City were Jewish, according to one in attendance.
Many of these attended a breakout session Friday afternoon on the U.S.-Israel relationship, although between half and three quarters of the 100 donors attending the session were not Jewish.
Romney dropped in on the session, and said he had just been briefed by the Israeli ambassador, Michael Oren, speaking about, among other issues, the situation in Syria, the elections in Egypt and the effort to isolate Iran.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and the Republican presidential nominee, said he has such conversations with Israeli officials to be kept up to date on the region.
Such briefings are not an unusual once it becomes clear who the major party candidates are.
Romney also spoke about where he believed he and Obama differed on Iran; Romney said he would be doing more to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The Obama administration is currently part of major power talks with Iran to make its suspected nuclear weapons program more transparent, and is also encouraging the international community to intensify sanctions.
It has also made representations to Israel to dial back threats of military action, although Obama administration officials have said that all options will be used to keep Iran from acquiring a bomb. Republicans have said that making clear such threats is the likeliest avenue to an Iranian retreat on the matter.
Addressing the U.S.-Israel session were William Kristol, a founder of the Emergency Committee for Israel which recently ran ads accusing Obama of not doing enough to stop Iran; Michael Chertoff, the Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary, who is Jewish; and Norm Coleman, the former U.S. senator from Minnesota, who is also Jewish.
To attend the retreat, donors either had to have donated $50,000 to the campaign or had to have raised $250,000.
GOP stars such as tactician Karl Rove, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen Jon Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, were in attendance, a sign of a unified front after a rough primaries campaign.
There was kosher food on hand, and a Shabbat dinner for Jewish attendees.
Park City was the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the event that Romney turned around into a success after early signs of a possible fiasco, and that shot him to national fame.
In response, Israel's embassy to the United Sates said that, at the request of Romney's staff, Ambassador Michael Oren updated the former governor on Israel's positions on all ongoing issues, saying that "the conversation was held as part of the embassy's ongoing work, with the principle of bipartisanism serving as a guiding light."
The conversation was reportedly 30 minutes long.
Update conversations such as these represent a standard working procedure for the embassy in its work with presidential candidates. An Israeli diplomatic delegation is also expected to attend both parties' national conventions, to be held in late August and early September.
This year, however, is seems the ambassador himself will not participate.