Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Sunday he does not expect much to come from this week's Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md.
"I always like people to talk to each other and I'm hopeful, but I'm not terribly optimistic about it," Romney, a GOP presidential hopeful, said in answer to an audience question.
Romney said progress at Annapolis was unlikely because Palestinians are fighting each other and have not shown they have the ability to form a stable and secure government.
"It's very difficult to establish peace when you don't have somebody across the table who has responsibility and can manage their side of the table," he said. "My expectations are modest because of (the Palestinians') inability to really follow the road map."
Romney went on to say that the wider challenge is to control "jihadist extremism" around the world, from the Philippines to Nigeria.
"I think our efforts are going to be broader than in that one hot spot as we help the Muslims themselves reject the extreme within them," he said.
Romney spent much of the Thanksgiving holiday engaged in a debate — conducted via press statements — with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani about their relative economic records, health care strategies and electability. In a fitting end to the weekend, the last question that Romney took was to the point: What would he say to someone who wanted to support Giuliani because the former mayor was more likely to defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election?
"I don't think he can, and I think I can," Romney answered to applause.
"I think to beat Hillary you got to be different than Hillary. ... You have to be pro-life, and you have to be anti-illegal immigration, and you have to be pro-family and you have to have high ethical standards in the history of your administration. You have to stand up and say you are different. I just don't think we can win the White House and defeat Hillary Clinton by acting like Hillary Clinton."