Mitt Romney will try to capitalize on doubts about President Obama's relationship to Israel when he visits the country later this summer.
The trip will provide the presumptive Republican nominee with his latest opportunity to depict himself as a stronger ally to Israel than Obama. That plays into Romney's larger portrait of Obama's foreign policy as aimless, indecisive and overly conciliatory.
In a speech to a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference earlier this summer, Romney said his trip to Israel would be to just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite. Romney pointed to a 2009 speech to the United Nations in which Obama criticized Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories (likely cognizant of the backlash, the president did not mention settlements in subsequent U.N. speeches), and Obama's describing a military strike on Iran as a last resort.
Romney also cites as indefensible a now-infamous speech in which Obama said an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement should be based on a return to Israel's 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. Israel captured a significant amount of new territory after the Six-Day War of 1967. Although Obama's call for land swaps means he is not endorsing the same boundaries as before the conflict, critics have seized on the statement as a symbol of Obama's lack of support for Israel.
One of those critics was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Obama has a decidedly cool relationship. Netanyahu recently bolstered his staying power by bringing a majority of Israeli lawmakers into his governing coalition, and the New Yorker reported that the White House is operating under the assumption that Netanyahu would prefer a Romney presidency.
The Obama administration rejects the notion that the president has been weak on Israel, and other Israeli officials have praised Obama's record. But the perception has stuck with many American voters.
A September 2011 special election in New York City to replace former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner became a referendum on Obama's Israel policy, with former mayor Ed Koch urging voters to elect Republican Bob Turner to send a message to the administration (New York's 9th district, where the election was held, is heavily Jewish).
A recent Gallup poll found that Obama's support among Jewish voters has declined since 2008. While Obama still bested Romney by a 2-to-1 margin, the Romney camp noted that the candidate's slim following among Jewish voters was still relatively high for a Republican.
Then there are the Christian evangelicals, who are heavily pro-Israel. Romney struggled to appeal to religious Republicans during the primary, but emphasizing his commitment to Israel could help shore up that weakness.
Romney's aggressive rhetoric on Iran also aligns him with Netanyahu, who has made no secret of advocating a military strike against the country's nuclear facilities, suspecting they may be used to develop a bomb.
Obama has almost sounded like he's more frightened that Israel might take military action than he's concerned that Iran might become nuclear, Romney said during the speech to the Freedom and Faith Coalition.