Spin Room Reaction to GOP Debate
Jewish Insider caught up with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), a Rubio supporter, and Todd Ricketts, from the “Our Principles” anti-Trump PAC, in the spin room following Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate in Miami, Florida.
Darrell Issa: “I think this was the most substantive debate we’ve had, and it was good for Marco Rubio because that’s an area where he’s done his homework, he knows the issues, and he knows what has to be done. I think, particularly, for the people in Florida, what they heard was Donald Trump talking about this ‘neutral’ concept of driving a harder deal etc., with such a naïve misunderstanding of the issues. Marco Rubio made it very clear: it’s the wrong time. It’s a wrong time when Hamas is a terrorist organization – even Egypt has recognized that Hamas is a terrorist organization and named it that way – and yet Donald Trump, somehow, thinks that if you just drive a harder deal you’re going to get things done, rather than this is the wrong time; they don’t have the infrastructure to in fact be a state.
Jewish Insider: Do you worry that if Trump is the GOP nominee that a lot of people who are concerned about stability in the Middle East might support Hillary in the general?
DI: “First of all, Hillary is wrong on the issues, and has been wrong on the issues for a long time. It was the Obama/Hillary Clinton administration that strained the relationship with Israel, basically turned out backs on our ally, and it’s her policies that are responsible for Libya and the other failed states. I think right now the only way for the pro-Israel community to not go with the Republican Party would be if we had the naiveness of Donald Trump because, right now, four more years or eight more years of Obama is exactly what Israel cannot afford.”
JI: Are you confident that Trump and the Republican Party are going to be able to do what it needs to in order to maintain support, or are you worried that he would lose it?
DI: “Donald Trump tonight showed he didn’t understand the issues that Israel faces every day. He doesn’t understand how you change the dynamics on the ground. You know, Marco [Rubio] has been to Egypt; he’s been to Israel and Jordan. He understands that Israel has partnerships that work with Jordan, that work with Egypt to make the region safer, and [Trump] just assumes all Muslims can’t be worked with. It wasn’t just Marco, but others pointed out that, in fact, we need that community to clean it up. The Wahhabism that has spawned so much of ISIS and Al Qaida is, in fact, a creation of a region, and that region – those people, those governments – have to change what they teach. It’s not going to be changed by America, it’s not going to be changed by Israel, but it’s going to be changed by standing by Israel and getting these countries to make the changes necessary to stop teaching hate.”
JI: Do you think it’s in Israel’s strategic interest to wait out the Obama administration before signing the MOU?
DI: “I think that considering that next week, Obama found a way not to find a convenient time meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, says a lot about where this administration is in its last year. The relationship between Israel and the House, Israel and the Senate – on a bipartisan basis – is strong; led by Republicans, but strong. The relationship that Prime Minister Netanyahu saw when he came to the U.S. at the invitation of then Speaker Boehner is the historic relationship. Unfortunately, he did not find, and does not find, Pennsylvania Avenue – he [Netanyahu] finds a way to work with the president because this is the president that has had a cold relationship and one that Israel does not deserve. “
JI: Again, you think Israel is better off waiting for the next administration on this MOU?
DI: I am with Prime Minister Netanyahu at least once a year, sometimes a couple of times a year. He’s smart; he leads Israel and makes decisions on their behalf. I learned a long time ago that rather than my saying what Israel’s to do, I support Israel, and I will support the decision by that government either way, and I think that’s a decision I trust Israel to make.”
Todd Ricketts: “I thought all the candidates showed themselves well. I think Trump showed a sincere lack of depth on almost every issue.”
Jewish Insider: What do you think about this debate being more anti-climactic, did that bode well for Trump better than prior debates?
TR: “I think without all the inflammatory remarks, it kind of turned him into a regular politician, and as a regular politician, he showed a lack of depth and knowledge on the issues.”
JI: So, you think this debate was actually worse for him than prior debates?
TR: “I think so, but we will have to see if it shows up in the polls.”
JI: What did you think about his answer on one hand he’s the most pro-Israel candidate, and, on the other hand, convincing the Palestinians that he’s neutral?
TR: I don’t tend to be an expert on Israel and Palestinian issues, but I would say that making any sort of statement that says you can start negotiations without Hamas and the Palestinian Authority recognizing Israel’s right to exist, is a fool’s error. Bill Clinton did that in 1999, and it led to the intifada.
JI: What do you say to people in the pro-Israel community, if one of their top issues is stability in the Middle East, and it comes down to Hillary vs. Trump, and they are leaning towards Hillary, what would you say to them?
TR: I guess in that scenario, we know Hillary to be a disaster, and if Trump is our nominee, we are just going to have to rally around him and get him educated really quick.
JI: Are you concerned with some of his positions on foreign policy?
TR: I’m concerned of his lack of a position on foreign policy.