Mitt Romney finds somewhat smoother sailing in Israel

(CBS News) After a rough first stop on his 7 day overseas trip, Mitt Romney was hoping Israel would go better than Britain. The day was not error-free.

In Jerusalem, while voicing strong support for Israel's right to self-defense, Romney also had to back off an aide's suggestion that he'd support an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear program.

Between meetings with Israeli officials, Romney visited the holiest of Jewish sites -- the Western Wall -- where he was besieged by well-wishers before he walked to the wall and left a prayer.

In visits with top Israeli officials, Romney got a warm welcome, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Romney "A personal friend of mine, and a strong friend of the state of Israel."

But it wasn't all smooth sailing in the often bumpy seas of Mideast diplomacy. Earlier Sunday, senior advisor Dan Senor caused a stir when he seemed to imply Romney would back Israel's bombing of Iran, telling reporters: "If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision."

That's stronger language than what the White House has used and, for that matter Mr. Romney, who has said he won't criticize American foreign policy abroad.

On Sunday afternoon, he attempted to clarify his position to CBS News.

"We should use every diplomatic and political vehicle that's available to us to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear capability state. If all those options fail, then we do have other options, and we don't take those other options off the table. But that's as far as I'm willing to go in terms of discussing this matter while on foreign soil."

In a speech Sunday night before supporters and donors, Romney appeared to take an indirect shot at the president, who he has criticized on the campaign trail, saying he's not a strong enough defender of Israel.

"We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms, and we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel's adversaries," Romney said.

  • Jan Crawford On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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