WASHINGTON – Republican unity and a wall-to-wall turnout packed the Republican
Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Presidential candidates forum on Tuesday. At the
meeting, the would-be commanders-inchief offered up tough talk on Iran and
against US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy.
RJC members attended the daylong conference in which candidates played one-up on
their plans to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon and stating their
support for Israel.
Romney vows to visit Israel first if elected
Republican candidates vow to stop Iran nuclear bomb
Former speaker-of-the-house Newt Gingrich promised
that upon election, he would immediately shake up the State Department and
demand that the US Embassy in Israel be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,
garnering loud applause from his audience.
He also promised to offer the
reins of the State Department to John Bolton, an announcement that was also
greeted with ringing enthusiasm from his audience.
Gingrich said that he
would try to restore America’s ability to carry out covert operations,
particularly in Iran, and promised that, if elected, he would work to
destabilize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime by sabotaging the
state’s fuel supply and supporting anti-regime movements.
speaker, who has re-emerged as a right-wing favorite after restaurant executive
Herman Cain suspended his campaign, roused the crowd early on by slamming recent
Obama administration remarks seen as anti-Israel.
He blasted last week’s
comments by the US Ambassador to Belgium, as well as comments made by Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a planned
meeting at the State Department with “those who would censor the world on behalf
Criticizing what he described as a “one-sided disarmament of
the Judeo-Christian civilization,” Gingrich also devoted part of his talk to
domestic issues, promising to abolish the capital gains tax, repeal Obama’s
health care program and re-scale the federal government.
Less than a
month before the primary season kicked off, Gingrich was far from the only
candidate to propose a tougher stance on Tehran.
Front-runner Mitt Romney
said that he supported both covert and overt activities to push Tehran to
abandon its weapons program.
“Ultimately, regime change is what’s going
to be necessary,” said Romney, also garnering a standing ovation from the
audience. “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,” he
The former Massachusetts governor, who is seen as vulnerable to
attack from the right, also emphasized his family and religious values as the
driving force behind his political behavior and promised to allow states to opt
out of Obama’s health care plan.
Republicans hope that although Jewish
support in the past has been overwhelmingly Democratic, playing up Obama’s
perceived anti-Israel sentiments might shake loose the key Jewish
Absent from the discussion was libertarian candidate Ron
Paul, who has been outspoken in his opposition to foreign aid to any state –
including Israel. Paul was not invited to participate in the forum.