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President Obama scolds Republican candidates for war-mongering

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Tuesday chastised the Republican candidates for “beating the drums of war” in suggesting that the United States prepare to take military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb program.

Presenting himself as the sober thoughtful leader trying to preserve peace in the Middle East, Obama held his first press conference since November -- timed, coincidentally, with Super Tuesday. He scolded his rivals for casually lobbing rhetorical bombs without worry about the consequences.

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“Now, what is said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They are not commander-in-chief,” Obama said in the White House’s tightly packed media briefing room, referring to Mitt Romney’s and Rick Santorum’s statements on Iran without mentioning the candidates by name.

“This is not a game, and there is nothing casual about it,” Obama continued. “And, you know, when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years. It indicates to me that that is more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

“Now, the one thing that we have not done is we haven’t launched a war. If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war they should say so, and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be.”

Romney, appearing by video feed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington on Tuesday, accused Obama of distancing himself and the United States from Israel by promoting a policy of engagement with Iran. He called Obama’s outreach to Iran “naive” and vowed to “station multiple carriers and warships at Iran’s door.”

“As president, I will be ready to engage in diplomacy,” Romney said. “But I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that American stands at its side, in all conditions and in all consequences.”

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