Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized the timing of the Annapolis peace conference. "I do not believe that this is a time when my expectations would suggest a major peace breakthrough," Romney said.
Romney backed the phased implementation approach of the internationally backed road map peace plan, which calls for Palestinian security and governance reform - as well as a freeze on Israeli settlements and removal of outposts - before substantive negotiations begin.
Romney did, however, back the administration's efforts to boost Abbas, whom he called a "more moderate voice" in the Fatah party. "Supporting moderate voices is in my view a good course, and a wise course.
BLITZER: Do you think it's a good idea for the Bush administration, this week, to convene Israelis and Palestinians and a lot of other countries and institutions in Annapolis, Maryland, to try to jump start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?
HUCKABEE: Well, I don't think it's ever a bad idea to try to get parties to discuss the ramifications of a world that continues to spiral out of control. Whether or not there is going to be a resolution, at least there is some conversation taking place, and that's -- that's healthy.
BLITZER: So I guess you're not ready to endorse what is called a two-state solution yet?
HUCKABEE: Not until you see where those two states are going to be located and whether or not there is going to be some guarantee of security and concessions on the part of the nations that would surround Israel. And the Israelis would have to be comfortable with it, otherwise it's not going to be something that I think they could live with.
"There's not reason for great optimism there to tell you the truth," he said, according to footage captured from the NBC affiliate in Sioux City "This has been a longstanding thing. …These are tough, tough problems, and a part anyway, of the Palestinian Authorities are committed, apparently still, to the destruction of Israel."
Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain says that progress in peace talks between Israeli and Arab officials is doubtful because Middle East terrorists don't want Israel to exist.
``It's complicated rather dramatically by the fact that in Gaza, you have a terrorist organization in charge that is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel," McCain said as talks aimed at Mideast peace moved from Annapolis, Md., to Washington.
McCain said, "``It's kind of hard to make progress in negotiations with a group of people who want to take you out completely."
He said Israel is the only freely elected democracy in the Middle East, and it deserves the right to exist,
Mr. Giuliani kicked off the Annapolis skepticism among his party's presidential nominees in August with his essay in Foreign Affairs. He wrote, "It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism."
Now let's play 'spot the liberal' and spot the candidates who aren't even bothering to pretend that they wouldn't support Abbas and his terrorist regime. Romney has always been a liberal and electing him would mean electing a liberal on a Republican ticket. The real problem with Romney isn't his religion, it's his complete lack of integrity, his inability to give a straight answer to a question. It's little surprise that he supports dismantling Israel.
Huckabee is good at whipping up the faithful, but in politics in practice he ends up looking pretty liberal. Huckabee is in favor of negotiations with a bunch of formal caveats.
Thompson as usual sounds good with the straight talk, but it's less clear what he would actually do if elected.
McCain is good at expressing skepticism but as with Thompson, it's hard to get a read on straight policies and he has a history of supporting diplomacy.
Giuliani has moderated his rhetoric a bit, but unlike Romney has not expressed any support for a Palestinian terrorist state and unlike Huckabee hasn't backed negotiations. Aside from Romney and Huckabee, the Republican candidates appear to be generally skeptical about the talks.