Romney: Obama ‘abandoned’ Bush’s freedom agenda

Holly Bailey

JERUSALEM—Mitt Romney has said repeatedly he won't criticize President Barack Obama on foreign soil.

But the presumptive Republican nominee got in a dig at his Democratic rival ahead of his arrival here, telling the Israel Hayom newspaper that the Middle East is in turmoil because Obama "abandoned the freedom agenda" pursued by former President George W. Bush.

"The Arab Spring is not appropriately named. It has become a development of more concern and it occurred in part because of the reluctance on the part of various dictators to provide more freedom to their citizens," Romney told the paper. "President Bush urged (deposed Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture, but President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history, in a more peaceful manner."

[Get more updates from Romney's overseas trip by following @hollybdc on Twitter]

The interview is notable, in part, because the paper is owned by Las Vegas casino magnet and major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, who is expected to attend a fundraiser Romney is holding Monday morning here.