AIPAC: Republicans and Obama clash over Iran

Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday, using heated rhetoric about Iran and criticizing President Barack Obama's stance on Israel.

Romney, speaking via satellite, told the influential pro-Israel lobbying group, "Israel does not need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. It needs our support," according to MSNBC. He called Obama's approach of waiting to see if sanctions worked with Iran "procrastination."

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He criticized Obama's stance, saying, "The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause," reported Politico.

On Iran, Romney said, "We do not have common interests with a terrorist regime," garnering applause. He added, "It is profoundly irrational to suggest that the ayatollahs think the way we do or share our values. They do not," according to The Washington Post.

Speaking at a news conference at the White House, Obama hit back at the Republican rhetoric, criticizing "the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war," according to CBS News. He noted that his critics were "folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander in chief."

"This is not a game," Obama said, "and there's nothing casual about it," reported CBS News.

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Santorum, who spoke at AIPAC in person, said, "If they do not tear down those facilities, we will tear them down ourselves," according to MSNBC. Seeming to address Obama's remarks, he said, "This is not bellicosity and warmongering. This is preventing the most radical regime in the world from having a weapon that could fundamentally change the security posture not just of the Middle East, but as we've seen with planned attacks here in the United States, a nuclear Iran with a nuclear shield to project terror around the world is a nightmare for all freedom-loving people in the world."

Also speaking to AIPAC via satellite, Gingrich said he would "undermine and replace the Iranian dictatorship by every available method short of war," according to CBS News. Speaking in rhetoric reminiscent of the Bush administration, Gingrich said, "We need a fundamental reassessment of our entire understanding of the threat of radical Islam; we need an administration with the courage to use the words radical Islam."

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