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GOP hopefuls scold Obama on 'timid' Israel support

By David Espo

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 7 2011 12:41 p.m. MST

Even given those polling statistics, the eventual Republican presidential contender is highly unlikely to capture a majority of the Jewish vote in 2012. The often unspoken, more modest goal of the party is to hold down the level of the president's support in hopes it can make the difference in one or more of the states likely to be most competitive.

Against that backdrop, there was little reason to hold back, and the Republicans who took a turn on Wednesday's stage didn't.

"In his inaugural address to the United Nations, the president chastised Israel but said little about the thousands of Hamas rockets raining into its skies. He's publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders," said Romney, who is running roughly even with Gingrich at the head of the GOP pack in recent polls.

Obama has 'insulted its prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, and he's been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran," Romney said. He repeated a pledge to make his first foreign trip as president to Israel.

"I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel's existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them dearly."

Like Romney, Huntsman said it is unacceptable for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, a possibility that Israel views as a direct threat to its own survival.

"If you can't live with a nuclear Iran, and I can't, then you have to say all options are on the table, and for me all options are on the table" he said, implying the threat of a pre-emptive military strike against a nuclear weapons facility.

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AP reporter Brad Klapper contributed to this story.

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