Latest Romney Flip-Flop: Mideast Peace

After spending last week flip-flopping on the economy and even renouncing his own 47% tape and other positions, Mitt Romney is about to make another major pivot, this time on Middle East peacemaking. His conversion could disappoint a lot of his pro-Israel backers, particularly Evangelicals and the party’s small conservative Jewish base.

Romney could also give a major dose of heartburn to his biggest backer, Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who has pledged $100 million to defeat Obama and is an outspoken opponent of Palestinian statehood.

You may recall that in that infamous 47% tape the Republican nominee told a private gathering of wealthy backers that seeking Middle East peace is hopeless because the Palestinians are more interested in destroying Israel than making a deal with the Jewish state.  And in his visit to Jerusalem this summer he suggested the reason the Palestinian economy is so much weaker than Israel’s is cultural differences. He has repeatedly left the impression throughout his campaign that he would outsource U.S. Middle East policy to “my friend Bibi Netanyahu,” saying more than once that before making any major moves he would first consult with the Israeli prime minister.

That was then, and this is now.

After years of accusing President Barack Obama of pressing too hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, Romney is expected to pivot in a foreign policy address later today at Virginia Military Institute and say Obama actually didn’t try hard enough, reports Huffington Post, which has seen an advance text.

Now that Romney is trying to drop his “severely conservative” claim and run hard to the center, he will declare his commitment to working to create "a Democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel."

That’s not what he told a private meeting of deep pocket contributors in May:

"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, ‘There's just no way.’ And so what you do is you say, ‘You move things along the best way you can.’ I got a call from a former secretary of state. I won't mention which one it was, but this individual said to me, you know, I think there's a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections. I said, ‘Really?’ And, you know, his answer was, ‘Yes, I think there's some prospect.’ And I didn't delve into it."

That was the old Romney playing to a right wing base.  Now the new Romney is expected to say,  "In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew" 

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.