How far does Mitt's respect take him?

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) meets with US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in Jerusalem Mr Romney has been holding talks with Israeli leaders including President Shimon Peres

With just 100 days to go in the US Presidential election, the man who wants to replace President Obama is campaigning - in Israel.

What is he up to, when everyone knows this election is all about the economy back in the US?

There'll be talk of courting the Jewish vote, and there is something in that. And Israel looms large in the concerns of Christian evangelicals too.

But this is about coming over as harder and tougher than President Obama on the world stage.

It may not convert any new voters but this election is all about firing up likely supporters, exciting them and making sure they turn out to vote.

Mitt Romney has taken a new, tougher line on Iran. He has said that he would "respect" Israel if they launched an attack on Iran to stop it becoming a nuclear power.

Some, including the Associated Press, interpret that as "backing" Israel. I don't agree but there is a lot of debate in the press pack about what it does mean.

After all, an American president couldn't just say he "respected" the decision to attack - he'd have to decide how much or how little that would mean in terms of military support. Team Romney promise to clarify, but haven't yet done so.

But his intent is clear. He'll tell an audience "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world."

His advisors stress that word "capability". Some would draw the line at Iran having the weapons. He would draw it a lot sooner.

That means he is scornful about the talks currently going on which would allow Iran to enrich some uranium.

He is "highly sceptical" that it really wants peaceful nuclear power. He says there must be zero enrichment.

But advisors are also keen to stress he is not a warmonger. Advisers say he thinks the military option should be kept on the table, but avoided if possible.

However, they say Mr Romney thinks that the only thing that will convince Iran's leaders to give up the pursuit of weapons is the belief that the alternative is far worse.

We still don't know how far President Romney would go down the road to support that worse alternative.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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