GOP Hopefuls Seeking to Close the Deal at RJC Forum
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are looking to seize the moment to court as many Jewish donors possible in an attempt to lock up their support in the crucial months before the first primaries, as they all gather for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s presidential forum at the Reagan Library in DC Thursday.
As first reported by Jewish Insider, Cruz will be leaving DC immediately after his appearance at the conference to attend a 1000-dollar-per-head fundraiser at the home of Elizabeth and Avi Samuels in Englewood, NJ. Howard Jonas, who held a fundraiser for Rubio at his home in Riverdale a few weeks ago, is listed as one of the hosts.
Rubio will also be leaving DC to attend a fundraiser at the Home of S. Douglas and Melissa Hahn in New York City, according to an invite obtained by Jewish Insider.
Another fundraiser is scheduled to take place later in the evening at The Conrad Hotel. Hosts include Wayne Berman, Tom Farley, Scott Friedman, Larry Grafstein, Brian Levine, Eric Mandelblatt, Mike Regan, Phil Rosen, Joe Wall and Scott Weaver, among others.
Meanwhile, supporters of Jeb Bush are also hosting a breakfast on the sidelines of the gathering, seeking to reassure early backers that the former Florida Governor is still a viable choice amid the shift in the national debate on national security issues.
Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will headline a breakfast on behalf of the “Right to Rise” super PAC Thursday morning, Politico reported. Fred Zeidman, a Bush supporter, told the publication that there is no donation required to attend the breakfast.
This marks the second time Bush supporters are organizing a “free” reception. Last month, Leora Levy, who serves on Jeb’s Jewish Leadership team, invited undecided donors to meet Bush in person for a first impression experience at a private country club in Greenwich, Connecticut.
All of the Republican candidates, including Ben Carson and Jim Gilmore, are expected to attend. The candidates will each be given 30 minutes to address the crowd and take their questions. “I think it’s a testament to the work that we do in the Jewish community, and why having an organization like the RJC is so valuable. And that is demonstrated by the fact that every Republican presidential candidate is flying in to address a national gathering of our Jewish leaders and supporters from across the country,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said. “This is going be an opportunity for these candidates to address the issues that our community cares about, to engage in the dialogue and to take questions and answers. I think it’s a profoundly important event.”
Bush has the largest coalition of RJC members to date, as he managed to get them on his Jewish leadership team before his disastrous debate performances. Prominent backers include Mel Sembler, Fred Zeidman, Cheryl Halpern, Henry Kravis, Sander Gerber, George Klein, and Charlie and Lisa Spies.
Rubio managed to get the backing of Norman Braman and Larry Ellison, as well as Paul Singer and Phil Rosen among others, and is considered the frontrunner in the Sheldon Adelson primary.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is also expected to meet some friends at the presidential forum as he seeks to build on his national security credentials to appeal to hawkish donors. “The pro-Israel community has been a godsend of Lindsey Graham because of my unwavering support for the State of Israel,” Graham told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. “I’ll never forget this. It means the world to me that the American pro-Israel community, Evangelical Christians, and Jewish-Americans have been supportive of me. I’ll never, ever forget that.”