Last night NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor released a statement that it was “not true” that Iran would hold one-on-one nuclear talks with the U.S. for the first time. As the L.A. Times noted this morning, they didn’t deny that the overture was made by Iran, just that there are no talks in the works:
The White House on Saturday issued a statement denying that it had agreed to one-on-one talks with Tehran after the election. But it didn’t deny a report on the New York Times website that Iran had offered, for the first time, to engage in such talks with the United States after Nov. 6. The White House statement also noted that U.S. officials had said “from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”
The reaction I got from Obama supporters on Twitter and Facebook to the initial reporting was a big “yay!” that this could be the president’s October surprise, then a collective “booooo!” when the New York Times article was contradicted by the White House. We were all a-flutter about how Mitt Romney would respond at the next debate on foreign policy.
Would he attack the president for “negotiating with terrorists”? Would he finally say definitively that he’d rather bomb Iran to smithereens, engaging in yet another war in the Middle East? Or would he *gasp!* agree that a meeting might be productive?
He was asked about all this today, which he of course sidestepped, because see, it cut into his time flipping a coin to determine the starting team for a flag football match between his aides (and his wife) and some traveling press corps members.
DEL RAY BEACH, Fla. — On the eve of the final presidential debate — on foreign policy — Mitt Romney declined Sunday to say whether he would favor one-on-one negotiations with Iran to resolve the deadlock over that country’s nuclear program. [...]
Romney aide Garrett Jackson, interrupted: “Guys this is a football game. Come on. Are you kidding me?”
“I thought you were talking about one-on-one talks with the president,” Romney said. “I was about to answer.”
You thought I was exaggerating? Oh “you people” and your silly questions. Oh that Willard and his priorities.
And his lack of specifics.
Romney has never directly addressed whether he would engage in one-on-one talks with Iran. But he has hinted that he would not, criticizing Obama for saying during the 2008 campaign that he would sit down with Iranian leaders without preconditions. [...]
The Romney campaign has not issued any statement on the New York Times report, and does not plan to do so before the debate.
Of course he won’t answer. He’s saving it all up for that Big Pounce tomorrow night. With any luck, it will be as effective as the one he got so lathered up about when Candy Crowley nailed him on a lie.