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ROMNEY, GINGRICH, SANTORUM STAND OUT IN REPUBLICAN JEWISH COALITION EVENT: Dominate discussion on Israel, Iran, epicenter issues

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2011 at 4:07 am

Romney, Gingrich and Santorum dominated the discussion at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum. (photo montage: AP/Politico)

>> The Tehran Initiative — the new political thriller seemingly ripped from the headlines — has hit the NYT, WSJ, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists and is available for Christmas and Hannukah in hardcover or e-book

UPDATES:

Three GOP presidential candidates on Wednesday dominated the discussion of Israel, Iran and the economy at the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Washington, D.C. What follows is an update to the recent column I wrote rating the GOP candidates on the Iran issue. I saw nothing to change my previous ratings, but there were new nuances.
  • Romney, Gingrich and Santorum gave serious, substantive addresses and answers during the Q&A sessions.
  • The first two were important to watch because, obviously, they are leading in the polls — and many believe are the most plausible contenders for the Republican nomination. To their credit, both also delivered strong performances — Gingrich’s was better, but Romney wasn’t bad; either will be much better on Israel than President Obama, something more and more American Jews are beginning to realize.
  • Gingrich said he’d appoint John Bolton to be Secretary of State, and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — love that; other elements of the speech were excellent, too — definitely worth watching.
  • Romney promised to make his first state visit to Israel, noting that Obama has visited a slew of Mideast countries and offered to meet with Ahmadinejad, but hasn’t found time to visit our most important and trustworthy ally in the region, Israel — amen; he said other good things, too, but the question remains whether he can be trusted on these issues when the Mideast heats up since he hasn’t exactly demonstrated himself as a man of lasting convictions.
  • Santorum’s speech stood out to me — it’s worth watching, along with the other two. The man clearly has deep convictions on Israel and Iran. He knows these issues. He’s thought long and hard about them. He spoke to the RJC first, and spoke of a “gathering storm” building in the Middle East, borrowing Winston Churchill’s line regarding the rise of the Nazi threat in the 1930s. Santorum also impressed me as he explained how he led on major legislation to impose economic sanctions on Iran in 2006, before it was “popular.” He was opposed in the Senate by Joe Biden, and even opposed by President Bush. Yet as he explained, he eventually got his legislation passed unanimously as the situation in Iran worsened and Washington began to wake up to the dangers. Santorum was ahead of his time on the Iran issue, and the only one of the three to have put a specific plan on the table to neutralize Iran’s nuclear threat. Some say Santorum doesn’t have a shot. He’s only at 7% among likely voters in Iowa in the new ABC/Washington Post poll (though that’s up from 2% earlier this year). Still, there are 25 days to go before the Iowa caucuses — that’s a lifetime in politics, and it’s certainly been a wild ride so far. Who knows what will happen next? Regardless, Santorum’s is a welcome and important voice in the GOP debate and his foreign policy experience is vital to the party.
  • Bachmann’s speech was okay, and she clearly loves Israel, but she lacked the gravitas of the others — and she made a very odd point of saying that a donor has told her he’s ready to pay for the move of the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador’s residence to Israel if she’s elected; that seemed a strange thing to say when she makes such a point of criticizing cronyism in politics.
  • Perry said he’d increase aid to Israel — but didn’t he just say he was going to reduce all foreign aid?
  • Huntsman was irrelevant, bless his heart.
  • The RJC deserves credit for not inviting Ron Paul who is an isolationist, has a deep disrespect for Israel’s security needs and strategic importance to U.S. national security, and he is, frankly, out to lunch on the Iran issue.

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Watch the best three speeches for yourself from the C-SPAN archives, in the order they were delivered:

>> The Tehran Initiative has hit the NYT, WSJ, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists and is available for Christmas and Hannukah in hardcover or e-book

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