Daily Kickoff: Where Jeb’s Jewish Backers Go From Here | Hillary: Trump, Cruz comments on Israel ‘missed the mark’ | Saban to invest in StartUp Nation

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HOW IT HAPPENED: “Fall of the House of Bush: How last name and Donald Trump doomed Jeb” by Ed O’Keefe, Dan Balz and Matea Gold: “As the Bush campaign would learn, every credible candidate today has a few billionaire friends who can enrich a super PAC. In the end, all that money came to symbolize frustration rather than power.” [WashPost]

Where Jeb’s Jewish Backers Go From Here — We spoke with around a dozen of Jeb’s major donors to hear their thoughts on the campaign and the state of the race going forward. Many expressed their disappointment with the results thus far. “I’m very disappointed that the rest of America didn’t agree with me, but they certainly spoke,” Fred Zeidman told Jewish Insider on Sunday. “I always felt Jeb was the best candidate to beat whoever the Democrats put up.”

“Times have changed, the country has changed, the electorate has changed,” Mel Sembler, former RNC finance chairman and board member of the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise, was quoted as saying by Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t understand our country anymore.”

“I am still very much despondent about Jeb’s unexpected departure from the race,” Thane Rosenbaum, an American novelist and law professor, told Jewish Insider via email. “I thought he was the superior candidate with the right attitude and policy proposals toward Israel, the Iran [nuclear] deal, and global anti-Semitism–issues that matter to me greatly.”

“Having been ‘Associate Jewish Coordinator ‘ for the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1992, against George H.W. Bush, it was ironic that Jeb’s was the first Republican Presidential campaign in which I became engaged,” Michael Granoff explained. “Jeb’s appeal across party lines as Governor (of Florida) played a major role in my decision because I believe political polarization is eroding the country’s fabric and hampering its ability to deal with very real national security threats.”

Noam Neusner, a former White House Jewish liaison in the George W. Bush administration, shared his experience working on Jeb’s campaign. “Working for Jeb was immensely rewarding. He is a great boss — lively and upbeat,” said Neusner. “He cares deeply about ideas and governing, and public service — and his staff and volunteers all could see it in everything he did as a candidate and before that as a governor.”

Scott Arogeti, another White House Jewish liaison appointed in the last year of the Bush 43, had only words of praise for the former Florida Governor. “Jeb Bush is a patriot that ran an honorable, substantive campaign aimed at helping millions of Americans reach their full potential,” Arogeti told Jewish Insider. “Additionally, his consistent support for reasserting and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship was genuine, and deserving of both our respect and our gratitude. I’m proud and thankful to have been a small part of his team.”

“I’m proud to have supported Jeb,” Charlie Spies, the leading counsel of the Right to Rise super PAC, related to Jewish Insider. “His campaign focusing on policy solutions and an optimistic vision that was an example of the best in our politics. It was also great to see President George W. Bush back on the trail in SC this week. Both he and Jeb have been steadfast friends of Israel and their leadership in a dangerous world is in stark contrast to the failed ‘leading from behind’ of the Obama administration.”

Jason Lyons, founder and CEO of the Wall Street Conference and a political expert, explained what went wrong for Jeb in this unpredictable political season. “We’re in a particular time right now when voters are very upset and looking for someone who says exactly what’s on their mind without thinking twice,” Lyons asserted in a phone conversation with Jewish Insider on Sunday. “Jeb is not that person. His message was not able to resonate since that is not part of his DNA. Donald Trump did an effective job painting Jeb as low energy. The irony is, knowing Jeb, he is anything but low energy.” According to Lyons, Jeb’s physical makeup suggested the opposite. “You know, he lost a significant amount of weight going into this election and with all the traveling he’s done, one could make the argument that he actually had more energy than anyone else.”

“It’s been a crazy year,” said Jay Lefkowitz, a senior partner at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, who also served as President Bush’s Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, in summarizing the recent primaries. “We’re seeing a political year in which both parties, voters are favoring fringe candidates. It could well be that the Republican Party is on its way to nominating Trump as its nominee, which a year ago was unthinkable.”

Looking forward, Ronald Krongold, a longtime friend and supporter of the Bush family, said he’s confident Jeb “will continue to support conservative principles and the State of Israel, even though he is no longer in the presidential contest.”

“Jeb is a serious leader, who assembled a presidential policy team. I hope he stays in public life,” added Sander Gerber.

We asked Jeb’s donors which of the candidates left in the race are they most likely to support going forward. “The only one that I could foresee having the potential to build bridges is Marco Rubio,” Granoff stated. “I think Rubio is the most attractive candidate in the race. I am sure other donors will also shift their support to Rubio,” said Lefkowitz. Adding that the outcome of the Florida primary on March 15 will determine whether Rubio could beat Trump and win the nomination.

If Donald Trump continues winning states in March, Lyons suggested it might be time for the establishment “to rally around him as well and support him.” But he also offered some unsolicited advice to the Republican presidential frontrunner: “It’s time for Trump to tone down some of the rhetoric and start embracing the establishment. I would just add that Marco and Ted are very gifted individuals. At this stage, the remaining candidates should begin to unify the party. The Republicans have a real opportunity to recapture the White House if they stop killing each other one by one.”

Granoff, however, said he would refuse to accept the idea of supporting Trump in the general election. Instead, he added his voice to the recent chatter around Mike Bloomberg running as an independent. “If the circus continues, and Trump prevails as the GOP nominee, then it is my conviction that it would be a moral imperative for someone richer than him to enter the race. Maybe someone richer than him who popularly governed the nation’s largest city for over a decade,” he recommended. [JewishInsider]

“Bloomberg’s trial balloon isn’t rising yet” by Ben White: “The multi-billionaire media mogul has held out the possibility of an independent candidacy as a tonic for centrists fearful of a Trump presidency. But even as Trump bolstered his chances for the Republican nomination with a solid win in South Carolina, Bloomberg’s trial balloon has yet to gain much altitude, even among those most likely to favor his candidacy.” [Politico]

Former Minnesota U.S. Senator Norm Coleman announced he was shifting support to Rubio. “With Bush out, I’m clearly on Rubio’s team. I’m not sure whether that helps or hurts. I thought Jeb was the most qualified to be president,” Coleman said in a statement, according to Star Tribune. “But Rubio clearly is our best hope and most qualified to be commander in chief with Jeb out of the race.”

SUNDAY SHOWS: Hillary on CNN’s State of the Union — Jake Tapper asked Hillary: “As a former secretary of state, I really am interested in your views on the foreign policy issue that has emerged on the Republican side that I’m sure you have opinions about. Donald Trump was asked this week about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he said — quote — “Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think it helps.” Now, Senator Ted Cruz, on the other hand, said — quote — “I have no intention of being neutral.” He would be standing by Israel. You’re a former secretary of state. What do you think about those answers? Where would you be?”

Hillary’s response: “Well, I think both of them missed the mark. First of all, Israel is our partner, our ally. We have longstanding and important ties with Israelis going back to the formation of the state of Israel. I will defend and do everything I can to support Israel, particularly as the neighborhood around it seems to become more dangerous and difficult. I also believe the Palestinians deserve to have a state of their own. That’s why I support a two-state solution. That’s what I have worked on.”

“That’s what I tried to move forward when I was secretary, and holding three very intense conversations between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority. Those are not mutually exclusive. I happen to think that moving toward a two-state solution, trying to provide more support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people is in the long-term best interests of Israel, as well as the region, and, of course, the people themselves. So, I don’t think either of the answers you just relayed to me really grapple with the challenges that we have to continue to work to overcome.” [CNNJI]

Trump on NBC’s Meet The Press — Chuck Todd asked Trump: “Let me give you one more issue where you sort of went counter to what is perceived as Republican orthodoxy, and that is on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. You said Wednesday you wanted to be neutral in that dispute. Explain what neutral means, because some heard that in the pro-Israeli community and thinks, “Oh, he’s going to be anti-Israel.” Explain what you mean by ‘neutral’?”

Trump’s response: “If they want me, look, no, I’m very pro-Israel. In fact, I was the head of the Israeli Day Parade a number of years ago, I did a commercial for Netanyahu when he was getting elected, he asked me to do a commercial for him, I did a commercial for him. I am. But I don’t want to be– look, the hardest thing to do is that, in terms of deals, you’re a deal person, right? The ultimate deal is that deal. Israel, Palestine, if you’re going to make it, that probably is the hardest deal there is to make.”

“People are born with hatred, they’re taught hatred. And I have to say, it’s mostly on the one side, not on the other side. But they’re taught hatred. I say this. If I’m going to be president, I’d rather be in the position, because I will try the best I can, and I’m a very good dealmaker, believe me, to try and solve that puzzle. You’re not going to solve it if you’re going to be on one side or another. Everyone understands that. If I’m going to solve the problem, I want to go in with a clean slate. Otherwise, you’re never going to get the cooperation of the other side. So that’s all I’m saying.” [VideoTranscript]

Fred Zeidman on Trump’s ‘neutral’ comments: “I don’t fully understand them but I’m not concerned that he’ll be anything but good for Israel. I mean he had two Orthodox Jews on stage with him Saturday night. Three, if you count his grandchild on the way!”

ICYMI: “From AIPAC to Trump: Michael Glassner’s journey” [JewishInsider]

LATEST HILLARY EMAILS: ‘Holy Moly’ — On March 2, 2010, Sid Blumenthal shared with Hillary a report that Netanyahu fired his National Security Advisor Uzi Arad over Iran. “Holy Moly! What more can you find out about this and why Arad had to resign?” Hillary replied.

“Feel bad for Sid” — Hillary after Rahm Emanuel reportedly objected to the hiring of Sid Blumenthal as an advisor to the Secretary of State.

Jack Rosen – a ‘friend’ of Fidel Castro — Julissa Reynoso emailed Hillary’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills (Feb 27, 2012): “Spoke to Jack Rosen on Friday. He met with [Cuban Foreign Minister] Bruno [Rodriguez] in the fall during UNGA. Bruno approached him and Rosen invited him to dinner. According to Rosen, Bruno raised the AG matter and said they were looking for a solution. I told Rosen the GoC’s version of solution included unreasonable asks involving the Cuban 5. I explained the release of remaining 4 was not on the table. Rosen apparently is a “friend” of Fidel Castro. Castro came to his house in the 90s, the last time Castro traveled to NY. And Bruno visits whenever he is in town.” [Scribd]

Another email dated May 20, 2011, reveals that Rosen requested to talk to Hillary following Obama’s speech on Israel, which was rebuked by Netanyahu: “Jack Rosen left a message, asking to speak with you about the President’s speech.” A few hours later, after speaking by phone with Rosen, Hillary replied: “Jack Rosen still wants a mtg sometime in the future. So ask Lona just to add him to a list but not schedule it.” Huma Abedin replied, “On Rosen, he’s actually been on an old list but will keep him on there.” [Scribd]

Ya’alon: US military aid package almost complete: “Kicking off the Juniper Cobra joint US-Israeli military drill in Haifa, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says a new 10-year military aid package from Washington should be finalized “in the coming weeks.” [ToI]

**Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Iran’s Ambitions Face Wary Western Oil Firms” [WSJ] • “Trafigura to ship West Texas oil to Israel” [FinancialTimes] • “Global automakers look to Israeli smart car startups” [Globes]

STARTUP NATION: “Haim Saban to invest $100m in Israeli startups” by Tali Tsipori: “Haim Saban has set up a new fund to invest $100 million in Israeli startups. The fund will invest in startups in the mobile, social networks, ecommerce and digital media sectors in which there is synergy with Saban’s other businesses… The Saban Ventures fund will be managed by Barak Pridor who has more than 20 years of experience in communications and technology market.” [Globes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: According to a JI reader, over 1,400 guests attended AIPAC’s Los Angeles Gala Dinner last evening. Featured speakers included former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Rep. Ed Royce together with Rep. Ted Lieu in a panel moderated by AIPAC board member Michael Tuchin, AIPAC Christian activist Pastor Chris Edmonds (whose father was recently recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem), and AIPAC staffers Wayne Klitofsky and Julie Munjack.

Spotted: Israeli Consul Gen. David Siegel, Rep. Brad Sherman, Rep. Linda Sanchez, Rep. Janice Hahn, Rep. Julia Brownley, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Rep. Mark Takano, Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-6), Rep. Raul Ruiz, State Sen. Isadore Hall, State Sen. Ben Allen, State Sen. Jeff Stone, State Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, State Assemblyman Travis Allen, L.A. Controller Ron Galperin, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, Santa Ana Council-member Michele Martinez, Cindy Montanez, Nanette Barragan, Paul Chabot, Lynn Alvarez, Ana Guerrero, Linda Lopez, Elan Carr, and Henry Stern.

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Meet-Up” by Anna Heyward: “Next time you go to jail, David, ask for a kosher meal. They have to give it to you, and the food is better.” This was the advice that Diane Goldstein, a retired police officer, gave to David Bronner, an activist in the movement to legalize marijuana, over dinner one night at an Upper East Side organic vegan restaurant.” [NewYorker]

Al Jazeera interviews Rabbi Jonah Pesner: “Q&A: Jewish rabbi battles Islamophobia in the US” by Ryan Rifai: “Jonah Pesner, one of the most influential rabbis in US, talks about “religious duty” to combat anti-Muslim hate crimes.” [AlJazeera]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “3 Rabbis and a Judge Savor the Enduring Back-and-Forth of Tennis” by Corey Kilgannon: “When the three rabbis and a judge walk onto the court at a Manhattan tennis center on Wednesday nights, it is no joke. There is, however, plenty of joking around during the weekly tennis sessions, shared by a group with four octogenarians at its core who have played together for more than 45 years. The judge is Alvin K. Hellerstein, 82, who still oversees federal court cases. The three rabbis are Dr. Michael Shmidman, 82, and Haskel Lookstein, 83, and Jonah Kupietzky, 81, who is an ordained rabbi but a kosher caterer by vocation.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: Alec Ginsberg’s Crazy Buzzer Beater 3 In OT — “Alec Ginsberg, off a pass from Noah Scholnick, knocks in a three-point shot to win the Buzzell rivalry game between Horace Mann and Riverdale. HM was down by 4 in OT with under a minute left, but the team rallied and got a rebound off of a missed foul shot, took a timeout with two seconds left, and ran this play. Final score: 43-42, Horace Mann wins.” [YouTubeBleacherInsta]

DESSERT: Bad link on Friday — DJ Khaled: “They don’t want you to eat Kosher, gotta eat Kosher” (h/t Dan Smith) [Instagram]

VIRAL VIDEO: In Jerusalem’s Shuk, when the shutters close something amazing happens… featuring a Steven Spielberg mural. [Vimeo]

WEEKEND WEDDING: “Erica Gillian Bromberg and Marcus Jacob Lanznar were married Feb. 20 at the University Club in New York. Rabbi Paul F. Cohen officiated. Mrs. Lanznar, 31, works in New York as a director of employee recruitment at BuzzFeed, a website for news and entertainment… Mr. Lanznar, 32, is an associate vice president overseeing new strategies and products at CareCentrix.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: David Axelrod, former Obama chief strategist and CNN contributor, turns 61… New York Yankees President Randy Levine turns 61… Miranda May… Jacob Herber…

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