Republican Senator Says Obama ’Outsourced’ Syria Policy

President Barack Obama’s administration has turned over leadership on the escalating conflict in Syria to other countries and hasn’t strengthened the U.S. relationship with Israel, Senator Kelly Ayotte said today.

The Obama administration has “outsourced leadership to the United Nations” on Syria, Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who serves on the Armed Services Committee, said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

Ayotte also criticized the administration’s record on Israel, which says it’s threatened by the possible development of weapons from Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes.

Ayotte spoke as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was visiting Israel as part of a six-day foreign trip. Romney has said he won’t rule out a military strike on Iran to prevent that nation from developing nuclear capabilities. Dan Senor, a foreign policy adviser traveling with Romney in Israel, said today that Romney would respect an Israeli decision to attack Iran to stop the nuclear program.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said July 27 that the administration is working beyond the UN and with other international partners “to further isolate and pressure” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, speaking before Ayotte on the same CNN program, defended the administration’s Israel policy and said it “will stand” with the Middle East nation.

‘Strongest Coalition’

The Obama administration has formed “the strongest coalition of countries around the world to put pressure on Iran not to develop a nuclear weapon,” said Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.

Ayotte, mentioned as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Romney, declined to say if she’s being vetted for the job or is interested in it.

“It’s certainly an honor to be mentioned,” Ayotte said, adding that she enjoys serving New Hampshire in the Senate and Romney “will pick who he thinks is best, and he’s in charge of that process.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey in Washington at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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