RCP: On a related subject: Iran. You made some comment yesterday about Iran. If Iran hasn’t acquired nuclear weapons by January 2009 when President Romney takes office, would they acquire them under a Romney administration?
ROMNEY: I think it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Unacceptable to our interests and to the interest of the civilized world. For that reason I think we should exert every source of our world pressure to keep Iran from pursuing that course. And, of course, the military option must be left on the table
In my view, at this stage, we should be doing as the Bush administration has begun, which is tightening economic sanctions, as well as tightening diplomatic isolation, we should be communicating to the Iranian people the downsides of becoming a nuclear power, we should be engaging the moderate Muslim states in the neighborhood to help put pressure as well on Iran and to help us by taking pressure off of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Finally, in my view, we should be putting together a much broader comprehensive strategy to defeat radical jihad in the world of Islam.
RCP: So, just to phrase it a different way, it’s your view that the national security risk to the United States of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon outweighs –
ROMNEY: Is extreme…
RCP: and outweighs any sort of adverse effect or fallout that might come from attacking them either with airstrikes and/or some sort of ground force.
ROMNEY: You know I won’t describe precisely what action should be taken or how it would be taken, but clearly the consequences of a nuclear Iraq – excuse me, a nuclear Iran – for the world and for America are so severe that military options have to remain on the table. Those options I have not discussed in great depth with the US military, so I’m not going to describe what particular path would be considered, but I can say that given the fact that we would never want to pursue a military option unless we had pursued every other reasonable option, I want to make sure we are aggressively pursuing those other options. And those other options relate to tightening economic sanctions so that Ahmadinejad is increasingly unpopular in his own country, so that religious leaders like Khamenei, as well as the public at large, are dissatisfied with him and ultimately sweep him from power, or cause him to withdraw his nuclear ambition. And that’s why it’s so important for us.
Romney’s willingness to answer questions from a variety of new media sources establishes that, like Rudy Giuliani, the governor understands the importance of availability to all the people who operate via the web or the airwaves to provide news of the campaign to interested parties. Senator McCain remains very reluctant to engage in the Q & A with new media that will be a necessity if he is going to recapture any of the momentum he enjoyed in 2000.