Hours after the aide previewed Romney's upcoming foreign policy speech in Jerusalem, Romney backpedaled and said, "I'll use my own words and that is I respect the right of Israel to defend itself and we stand with Israel. We're two nations that come together in peace and that want to see Iran being dissuaded from its nuclear folly."
The address by the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama was promoted as the centerpiece of a weeklong trip abroad designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials and highlight his ability to lead on the world stage. But the mixed signals on Iran could undermine that goal.
"Because I'm on foreign soil, I don't want to be creating new foreign policy for my country or in any way to distance myself from the foreign policy of our nation, but we respect the right of a nation to defend itself," the former Massachusetts governor told CBS' "Face the Nation" a few hours before the speech.
Obama has affirmed the right of Israel to defend itself, while also warning of the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran.
"Already, there is too much loose talk of war," Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March. "Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built."
The Romney adviser, Dan Senor, told reporters earlier in previewing the address that "if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision." He said Romney is careful to note that he believes preventing nuclear "capability," not just a nuclear weapon, is critical.