US political operatives speak about US elections with eager Israeli's

“If [voters] fear that the president is going to be weak physically, then they fear that he or she will be weak as a president,” Bush said.

September 13, 2016 02:26
2 minute read.
Clinton Trump

Clinton and Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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As notoriously close followers of US politics, Israelis woke up Monday morning to headlines of Hillary Clinton’s battle with pneumonia and her collapse outside a 9/11 memorial ceremony.

Within this context, two experienced US political operatives, one Democrat and one Republican, spoke with an eager group of Israeli professors, students and others on their views and analysis of this extraordinary election.

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Instead of beginning with the nominees’ stances on US-Israel relations, the two hour event hosted by the Bar-Ilan Center for International Communication and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv began with a discussion of the day’s headline: Clinton’s illness. According to Democrat Jay Footlik, a former special adviser to president Bill Clinton and CEO of Global Policy Initiatives, a political consultancy firm, the incident will not play to Clinton’s favor. But Footlik countered that Republican nominee Donald Trump has not been forthcoming with his health information and at age 70, Trump is two years older than Clinton.

Republican Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for president George W.

Bush, who now works at 30 Point Strategies, a public-relations firm, said the apparent collapse is “absolutely a decisive factor.”

“If [voters] fear that the president is going to be weak physically, then they fear that he or she will be weak as a president,” he said.

“Secretary Clinton is being held to a standard that Donald Trump has somehow so far avoided,” Neusner said.

A participant brought up Trump’s response to the Clinton health incident during a phone interview with Fox & Friends on Monday morning.

“So something’s going on, but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we’ll be seeing her at the debate,” Trump said on the program.

“This is a very smart strategy, which is to say, look presidential, sound like a decent human being,” Footlik said of Trump’s response. “The fact that she had a health incident, however serious or not, is doing the job of Donald Trump.”

Regarding the nominees’ views on Israel, Footlik cited Clinton’s extensive relationship with Israel.

“She knows Israel, the policies, the people. She really gets it,” he told the Post.

Neusner, who does not formally support Trump, was unclear about his views of Trump’s stance on Israel.

“There are many pro-Israel Republicans who know the issue well who support Trump,” he said. “If you want to be reassured you should talk to them and they will reassure you.”

“It would be very unusual for Donald Trump to do something hostile to Israel as president in opposition to the voters who elected him,” Neusner said. “If that were to be the case, I would be surprised.

But then again, Donald Trump has surprised me many times both positively and negatively.”

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