Obama Pressed on Iran, Foreign Policy Decisions

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WASHINGTON -- In his first press conference of the year Tuesday, President Barack Obama spent the bulk of his time explaining his foreign policy on Iran and Israel.

Questions are stirring over how the U.S. and Israel will move forward concerning Iran's nuclear threat, especially after the president's meeting, Monday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama offered more details about what it means to "have Israel's back" and criticized GOP presidential candidates for "casually" talking about military strikes against Iran.

"What's said on the campaign trail, those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. When I see the casualness of people talking about war, I'm reminded of the costs of war. This is not a game and there is nothing casual about it," Obama said.

"One thing I haven't done is launched a war," he continued. "If these folks think it's time to launch a war they should do that. Everything else is just talk."

The president defended his strategy of continued sanctions against Iran. He wants to give them time to work, and said that message was repeated in private to the prime minister.

"Iran is feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way," Obama said.

Across the street from the White House, the Israeli flag flies over the president's guest house where Netanyahu is staying.

"(There is) a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically," he added.

The press conference stole a little thunder from the Republican presidential candidates who are competing in a series of Super Tuesday contests.

"I understand there are some political contests today," Obama said while opening the press conference.

The president did have one opportunity to address his potential Republican opponent.

When asked what he had to say to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama laughed and said, "Good luck, tonight."

"No really, good luck," he added.

Obama was also asked about the theory that he'd actually like gas prices to continue to rise, so that his case for using more alternative energy will seem more enticing.

But he brushed off those claims, saying the last thing any president running for re-election wants is high gas prices.

President Obama will visit North Carolina and Virginia later this week to promote his economic recovery policies.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.