Netanyahu and Romney’s history together began early in their careers, back in 1976 when both were employed as corporate advisers for the Boston Consulting Group. Romney had just earned his MBA from Harvard, and Netanyahu his from MIT.
Though the two had not worked together on any projects directly, they each had left an impression on the other, and over time, a warm friendship developed.
“The ties between Mr. Romney and Mr. Netanyahu stand out,” notes New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro, “because there is little precedent for two politicians of their stature to have such a history together that predates their entry into government.”
“And that history could well influence decision-making at a time when the United States may face crucial questions about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities or support Israel in such an action,” Barbaro claims.
In an interview with The Times, Governor Romney described the connection he and Netanyahu had formed through their shared professional experiences. “We can almost speak in shorthand,” Mr. Romney said. “We share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke similarly of his rapport with Romney, crediting BCG’s “intellectually rigorous boot camp.”
Their camaraderie continued as their post-Boston careers progressed. In his report, Barbaro explains that during his time as governor of Massachusetts, Romney received “firsthand pointers” from Netanyahu on how to shrink government, a traditional priority of the Republican Party. Returning the favor, Romney advised Bibi in his efforts to encourage American divestment from Iran, suggesting which U.S. officials to approach. More recently, on Super Tuesday, Netanyahu personally briefed Romney by phone regarding the Iranian threat.
Some analysts have noted that this newly-revealed affinity between Romney and Netanyahu may help Romney achieve greater credibility among conservatives generally, and Jewish voters in particular.
Indeed, there was some confusion in recent months as to where Netanyahu, who has been following the U.S. presidential race closely, actually stands. When a new story came out in January discussing casino mogul and outspoken Zionist Sheldon Adelson’s bankrolling of the Newt Gingrich campaign, the Israeli Prime Minister was surprised to find that the report specifically mentioned Adelson as a close personal friend of Netanyahu. In response, Netanyahu’s office contacted Romney advisor Dan Senor, to inform him that the prime minister had had nothing to do with Adelson’s backing of Romney’s opponent.
Only time will tell if this latest revelation will give Romney, who at this point is widely acknowledged as the overwhelmingly likely GOP pick, the edge he needs to defeat President Obama at the polls this fall. But with several East Coast primaries taking place later this month, including New York, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
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