Campaign Buzz December 7, 2011: GOP Candidates Speak out in Support of Israel at Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


From left: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum address the Republican Jewish Coalition. | AP Photos
Speaking to the RJC, the candidates all promised to strengthen the alliance with Israel. | AP Photos


Live Twitting from the RJC Forum @ #RJC2012

“You’ll see some very strong, clear, unequivocal contrast between the vision of Republicans running and the current president as it relates to Israel, a turbulent Middle East and pushing back on the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons.” — Matthew Brooks, RJC’s Executive Director

“This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault no matter how bad the other side is has to stop.” — Newt Gingrich

“We will send the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I will ask [former Bush 43 administration U.N. ambassador] John Bolton to be secretary of State!” — Newt Gingrich

“I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable.” — Mitt Romney

“Three years in office and [President Obama] hasn’t found time to visit Israel, our friend, our ally, the nation in the region that shares our values… throwing Israel under the bus…. Over the last three years, Obama has instead chastened Israel” — Mitt Romney

“I already have secured a donor who said they will personally pay for the ambassador’s home to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Like you, my commitment is unequivocal and unchanging. We stand with Israel. Millions of Jews lost their lives. Today, a madman is speaking and once again it seems as if the world isn’t really listening.” — Michele Bachmann

“This torrent of hostility toward Israel, it doesn’t seem to be coordinated. It seems to be a natural expression of this administration’s attitude toward Israel.” — Rick Perry

“If you can’t live with a nuclear Iran, and I can’t, then you have to say all options are on the table.” — Jon Huntsman

Republican candidates rattle sabers against Iran: Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday rattled sabers against Iran and accused President Barack Obama of being soft in his support for Israel as they vied for the backing of Jewish Republicans.
One by one, the major contenders for the Republican nomination to face the Democratic president in 2012 told the Republican Jewish Coalition conference they would strengthen ties with Israel and not let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.
Candidates took time out from criss-crossing Iowa, New Hampshire and other early voting states to seek Jewish support, hoping to make inroads into a traditionally Democratic voting bloc.
A theme throughout the speeches was the Republican desire to strengthen the U.S. commitment to Israel and ensure it remains a democratic bulwark in an unstable region threatened by the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon…. – Reuters, 12-7-11

  • G.O.P. Candidates, at Jewish Coalition, Pledge to Be Israel’s Best Friends: The leading Republican candidates drew enthusiastic applause from Republican Jewish leaders here on Wednesday after accusing President Obama of falling short in his support of Israel while coddling its adversaries. But it remained to be seen how far those arguments will carry them, especially given the candidates’ rightward tilt on other issues that have traditionally been important to American Jews.
    The speeches to the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum suggested that the candidates would differ substantially from previous Democratic and Republican administrations on critical elements of the Middle East peace process. Some indicated they would put less pressure on Israel on issues like the contours of an independent Palestinian state…. – NYT, 12-8-11
  • Gingrich: ‘We need a dramatically rethought strategy for the Middle East’: Newt Gingrich offered up a sweeping critique of American policy toward the Islamic world during his appearance at today’s Republican Jewish Coalition presidential candidates’ forum.
    “We need a dramatically rethought strategy for the Middle East,” the former House speaker and current Republican frontrunner told the gathering on Wednesday afternoon.
    In comments that he acknowledged at the outset were not politically correct, Gingrich expressed concern about America’s stance toward “radical Islam,” saying it was currently based on lies and appeasement.
    He reiterated his criticism of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent speech at the Saban Forum about Israel, calling it “outrageous.”
    “This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault no matter how bad the other side is has to stop,” Gingrich said.
    He also reiterated his vow to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to great applause.
    Gingrich connected his criticisms of President Obama’s policies toward Israel to his broader criticisms of the president’s approach toward the Islamic world….. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich, the RJC crowd-pleaser: Per Summers, Gingrich said he would make John Bolton, a former potential candidate, his secretary of state.
    As for the current one, he said, to great effect, “The fact that Secretary [Hillary] Clinton could talk about discrimination against women in Israel and then meet with Saudis?”
    He also said he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a huge applause line (despite how difficult it actually would be to do, as all candidates who pledge it and then take office learn)…. – Politico, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich Sees Growing Radical Islamist Threat: Newt Gingrich on Wednesday equated the United States’ understanding of what will be a “long struggle with radical Islam” to where the country stood with the Soviet Union just after World War II, on the eve of a cold war that would dominate American foreign policy for more than four decades.
    The country is “about where we were in 1946, when we were trying to understand the Soviet Union,” Mr. Gingrich said. “We had not yet had George Kennan’s long telegram explaining the source of Soviet power.”
    The stark comments by Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who is now leading polls of the Republican field, came during a well-received speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington…. – NYT, 12-7-11
  • The Politics of Israel: Campaign 2012: Presidential hopeful and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney speaks to the Jewish Republican Coalition’s 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington.
    In American presidential politics wrapping yourself in the Israeli flag is a no-brainer. Stalwart support for Israel is important for many American-Jewish voters, an important source of campaign donations, and a potential swing vote in key battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Fealty to Israel plays well with evangelical Christians who back the Jewish state largely out of theology, and who can make the difference in early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina. Strong backing of Israel is viewed as a litmus test for powerful lobby groups in Washington, D.C.
    Especially for a field of Republican presidential candidates who are almost uniformly attacking Barack Obama’s foreign policy from the neoconservative right, the temptation has proven irresistible to use the president’s failed attempts at peacemaking in the Middle East, and frosty relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a cudgel…. – National Journal, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich and Bachmann Would Move Embassy to Jerusalem: Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday that as president he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a proposal designed to appeal to American Jewish voters. It also escalated the jockeying among the GOP candidates to be viewed as the most pro-Israel choice.
    Rival candidate Michele Bachmann, a House member from Minnesota, said on Wednesday that she too would insist on moving the embassy. Bachmann and Gingrich were among six GOP candidates who spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s candidates’ forum in Washington.
    Jerusalem is the declared capital of Israel, but that fact is not internationally recognized because of the long-standing territorial disputes with the Palestinians…. – National Journal, 12-7-11
  • Newt Gingrich Rips Panetta’s Israel Policy Speech: And today, the major candidates—except for Ron Paul, who believes the United States should cut aid to Israel and let it handle its own affairs—are expressing their take at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum … – U.S. News & World Report, 12-7-11
  • US politics live blog: GOP candidates at Republican Jewish CoalitionThe Guardian UK, 12-7-11
  • GOP 2012 presidential rivals target Obama’s Israel record at Jewish forumChicago Sun-Times, 12-7-11
  • GOP hopefuls scold Obama on ‘timid’ Israel supportBoston Globe, 12-7-11
  • Romney says Obama has ‘chastened’ Israel; he would visit nation in first trip as PresidentWaPo, 12-7-11
  • Romney Gets Enthusiastic Reception at Republican Jewish ForumWSJ, 12-7-11
  • Romney: My first visit as US President would be to the Jewish state of Israel: “I want the world to know that the bonds between the US and Israel are unshakable,” he said. “I wouldn’t meet with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. … – Ha’aretz, 12-7-11
  • Romney: Why I’d be better for Israel than Obama: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reaffirmed his commitment to Israel as America’s partner in the Middle East while accusing President Barack Obama of hindering peace in the region, during his speech Wednesday before the Republican Jewish Coalition.
    The former Massachusetts governor took the president to task for criticizing Israel, not saying enough about the thousands of Hamas rockets fired into the country and his support for Israel to adopt “indefensible borders.”… – CNN, 12-7-11
  • Republicans Decry Obama Israel Policy in Bid for Jewish Vote: Romney was one of six Republican presidential candidates scheduled to address the Republican Jewish Coalition at the day- long forum hosted by the group…. – BusinessWeek, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich says he’d name John Bolton as secretary of state: Newt Gingrich received a standing ovation from the audience at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Wednesday for promising to appoint John Bolton to be secretary of state if elected president. … – MSNBC, 12-7-11
  • Gingrich vows to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: Newt Gingrich worked to one-up Mitt Romney and the other Republican presidential hopefuls in his approach to relations with Israel, pledging to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. … – The Hill, 12-7-11
  • Republicans talk tough on Iran, vie for Jewish vote: Republican unity and a wall-to-wall turnout packed the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Presidential candidates forum as would-be commanders-in-chief offered up tough talk Tuesday on Iran and against US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy. … – Jerusalem Post, 12-7-11
  • Republican Candidates Aim at Obama Foreign Policy: The Republicans are expected to press this case on Wednesday at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum in Washington, just as they have stepped up attacks in recent days, demanding that Howard Gutman, the ambassador to Belgium, be recalled after he said … – NYT, 12-6-11
  • Gingrich says Obama should ‘renounce anti-Israel remarks’ from admin officials: “I’m confident this will be the most comprehensive effort in presidential campaign history.” Republican presidential candidates will meet Wednesday in Washington at the Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Candidate Forum…. – The Hill, 12-6-11
  • The Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum: In addition to the traditional debates, Mike Huckabee and Jim Demint have already held presidential forums. Donald Trump is hosting a debate. Yet one event that demands attention is the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) 2012 Candidates Forum…. – Washington Times, 12-6-11

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