GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan criticized former Defense Secretary Robert Gates during the vice presidential debate this evening for warning about the consequences of attacking Iran over its nuclear program.
Gates — a Republican who served as Pentagon chief in both the Bush and Obama administrations — last week reiterated his warning that attacking Iran could be “catastrophic” and “make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable.”
When ABC News’s Martha Raddatz asked Vice President Biden and Ryan about Gates’ assertion, Ryan said it “undermines” American credibility:
RADDATZ: What about Bob Gates’ statement. Let me read that again. “Could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations.”
BIDEN: He is right. It could prove catastrophic if we didn’t do it precision —
RYAN: What it does is it undermines our credibility by backing up the point when we make it that all options are on the table. That’s the point. The Ayatollahs see these kinds of statements and they think, “I’m going to get a nuclear weapon.” When we see the kind of equivacation that took place because this administration wanted a pre-condition policy so when the Green Revolution started up they were silent for 9 days. When they see us putting desperate — when they see us putting daylight between ourselves and our allies in Israel, that gives them encouragement.
Watch the clip:
Ryan was repeating a Romney campaign talking point that warning about the consequences of war with Iran only encourages the Iranian regime to move forward with an alleged nuclear weapons program (the Romney team doesn’t like discussing those consequences). Yet many experts and current and former U.S. and Israeli officials have echoed Gates’ warnings that attacking Iran would give leaders there incentive to weaponize and it could spark a regional war.