JTA provided this comparison of the candidates’ positions on some key issues of concern to Jewish voters.
Obama: President Barack Obama says he is “committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose” and has suggested that the Supreme Court decision affirming abortion rights — Roe v. Wade — is “probably hanging in the balance” this election. Obama has opposed efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, citing its work as a provider of women’s health care services.
Romney: Gov. Mitt Romney vows to be “a pro-life president” and has repudiated his previous backing for abortion rights, though he supports allowing abortion in instances of rape, incest and danger to the health or life of the mother. He wants the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus allowing states to set their own abortion laws.
Romney has said that there is “no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” He has said that he would support a constitutional amendment that defines life as beginning at conception. He advocates ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood, citing its role as an abortion provider.
IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Obama: The president has said it is “unacceptable” for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and the United States is “going to take all options necessary to make sure they don’t have a nuclear weapon.” He has ruled out the possibility of simply containing a nuclear-armed Iran.
Obama says his administration has “organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history,” noting the damage that has been done to the Iranian economy.
He says that in any negotiated deal, the Iranians would have to “convince the international community they are not pursuing a nuclear program,” and that there should be “very intrusive inspections.” Obama says Iran would not be allowed to “perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere.”
He accuses Romney of having “often talked as if we should take premature military action.”
Romney: The Republican nominee calls a nuclear Iran “the greatest threat the world faces, the greatest national security threat.” He says that Iran must be prevented from getting “a nuclear weapons capability.”
Romney says he supports the further tightening of sanctions against Iran and accuses the Obama administration of not moving aggressively enough on this front.
Romney’s running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, says the Obama administration has failed to convey to the Iranians that there is a credible threat of U.S. military action. Romney later said “military action is the last resort. It is something one would only, only consider if all of the other avenues had been — had been tried to their full extent.”
Romney said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide over his verbal attacks on Israel’s existence.
Obama: The president points to what he calls his administration’s “unprecedented” commitment to Israel’s security, citing the growth in U.S. security assistance and funding for the Iron Dome system to intercept rockets from Gaza. He has promised to do “what it takes to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge — because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat."
He pledges to pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that “a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples.” He has called for using the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps as the basis for negotiating the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state.
Obama opposed Palestinian efforts to gain statehood recognition at the United Nations and said the path to a Palestinian state is “negotiations between the parties.” He has demanded that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and abide by past agreements.
While the Obama administration has criticized Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, it also vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activities.
Romney: The Republican nominee says Obama “has thrown Israel under the bus” and has tried to create “daylight” between the United States and Israel. He says the “world must never see any daylight between our two nations.” He vowed to “never unilaterally create preconditions for peace talks, as President Obama has done.”
At a meeting with donors that was secretly recorded, Romney expressed pessimism about current possibilities for Israeli-Palestinian peace, explaining that the Palestinians don’t want peace. He suggested the best that could be done would be to “kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” But in a later speech he promised to “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.” He says he “will reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” He has promised to increase military assistance to Israel.
RELIGION AND STATE
The president said the “constitutional principle of a separation between church and state has served our nation well since our founding — embraced by people of faith and those of no faith at all throughout our history — and it has been paramount in our work.”
Obama said he “expanded the federal government’s faith-based initiative because it is important for government to partner with faith-based organizations,” citing the role they play in delivering social services.
He says he does not support school vouchers, including to religious schools, because they “can drain resources that are needed in public schools.”
Obama says his administration found a way to respect religious freedom while also ensuring that employees of many religious-affiliated institutions have contraception covered by their health insurance. The administration requires a religious-affiliated institution’s insurance provider to directly provide coverage to employees when the religious institution objects to providing or paying for such coverage itself.
Romney: The Republican nominee said “the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.” He said that America’s founders “did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square.”
Romney says he would allow low-income and special needs students to use federal funds designated for them to enroll in private schools, including in religious schools where permitted by states.
He criticized the administration’s application of the health care law’s contraception coverage clause to employees of many religious-affiliated institutions, saying that it infringes on religious liberty. He endorsed legislation that would exempt employers from having to cover contraception in their employees’ insurances policies if doing so would contradict an employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.