President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney renewed their commitments to Israeli security in separate telephone calls on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed frustration with the U.S. stance on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Obama and Romney are embroiled in a heated political campaign centered on the sluggish economy, but they closed the circle on a work-week largely dominated by questions over Iran, Libya and Syria at the U.N. General Assembly with renewed focus on foreign affairs.
Romney has sought to undercut the perception of Obama as strong on foreign policy, saying the president has disregarded Israeli security over Iran, which western powers believe is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Teheran says its intentions are peaceful.
Netanyahu has ramped up his criticism in recent weeks of the international community's response to Iran's nuclear program, saying targeted sanctions and diplomatic efforts are not enough.
Calls for specific "red lines" that Israel and its allies would set on Iran have thus far been rebuffed by the Obama administration, though Obama has said it would be unacceptable for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu stood at the United Nations on Thursday with a simple graph shaped like a bomb and drew a red line to demonstrate the point of no return if Iran were to develop one.
Romney insists his Iran policy contrasts sharply with Obama's, but conceded recently the two would draw the same "red line" on Iran.
When asked about policy differences with Obama on Iran after his conversation with Netanyahu, Romney said it was a matter of action over lip service.
"Well, part is to see action as opposed to just words," Romney said. "His words more recently are more consistent with the words I've been speaking for some time and we'll see what actions he pursues."
Romney said a military option should be on the table.
"But I certainly hope that we can prevent any military action from having to be taken," he said.
Obama this week accused Romney of trying to start a war with Iran.
A statement from the White House on Obama's call said he and Netanyahu "underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
"The prime minister welcomed President Obama's commitment before the United Nations General Assembly to do what we must to achieve that goal," the statement said.
Obama addressed world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday where he said the United States would "do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" and that a nuclear-armed Iran "is not a challenge that can be contained."
Obama and Netanyahu also spoke two week ago.
Fundraisers, campaigning in Pennsylvania
Obama had fundraisers on tap for Friday in Washington, while Romney spoke to the Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania, another swing-state stop for the former Massachusetts governor trailing in key battleground polls.
"You know, I've got a little secret here and that is that the Obama campaign thinks Pennsylvania is in their pocket. They don't need to worry about it," Romney said. "And you're right and they're wrong. We're going to win Pennsylvania."
Obama has made gains recently in battleground states, according to polls released ahead of next Wednesday's first presidential debate in Denver.
A recent poll shows Romney behind in Pennsylvania by eight points with 2% of likely voters undecided. New polls in Virginia and New Hampshire indicate close contests with Obama ahead as well.
According to an American Research Group survey released Friday in Virginia, 49% of likely voters support Obama with 47% backing Romney. Obama also holds a 50%-45% advantage in a new ARG poll in New Hampshire.
Obama won Virginia, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania in 2008.
The Romney campaign has spent the week trying to flip the tables on the polls.
"The public polls are what the public polls are," Rich Beeson, Romney's political director, told reporters earlier this week. "I kind of hope the Obama campaign is basing their campaign on what the public polls say. We don't. We have confidence in our data and our metrics. I feel confident where we are in each one of our states. I have great faith in our data."
Romney 'harvested' companies he built