On the same day GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a foreign policy address calling for stronger U.S. leadership in the Middle East, his senior foreign policy advisor sough to exploit an Iran fault line between President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
Democrat Menendez is running for re-election without the organizational presence in New Jersey of a presidential campaign focused elsewhere.
But Richard Williamson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, essentially asserted to MSNBC this morning that Menendez is closer to Romney on the Iran Question.
“Gov. Romney is calling for more sanctions,” said Williamson, at which point political analyst Chuck Todd pressed for details.
Leading a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate, Menendez suggested stronger sanctions against Iran to debilitate the terrorist harboring country’s nuclear weapons acquisition efforts.
“Obama resisted stronger sanctions,” the Romney partisan said.
Menendez and his colleagues “suggested tougher sanctions, and Obama opposed them,” Williamson added.
In a PolitickerNJ.com interview a week and a half ago, the U.S. senator from New Jersey defended the president from ongoing GOP efforts to depict Obama as weak on Iran.
“I think the president has a red line – Iran cannot have nuclear weapons,” Menendez said. “It is not in the best interest of the United States. …I look at the totality of what he has said and done. I am convinced he will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.”
Today, the Menendez Campaign responded to Williamson.
“No U.S. President has worked more closely with Israel than Barack Obama to ensure Israel’s offensive and defensive capacities,” said spokesman Paul Brubaker. “It would seem that Romney is trying to hitch a ride on the Democratic wagon with respect to enhancing sanctions. This Administration has done more than any prior in terms of creating, implementing and enforcing sanctions. Moreover, it was Senator Menendez who last week proposed additional new sanctions on Iran intended to build on the country’s economic free fall and the erosion of political unity in Iran that directly resulted from the sanctions he authored last December and the complimentary EU sanctions.”
Menendez continues to lead his Republican opponent, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) by double digits, according to the latest polls.