In New Hampshire, Israel is a Talking Point

It’s crunch time in the race for president.

As the first in the nation’s primary state, New Hampshire has attracted most of the attention, with the fate of several GOP candidates’ campaigns resting with Granite State voters, including those who are not even competing in the Iowa caucuses. Among the talking points at town hall meetings and campaign events, Israel is a general topic in the presidential hopefuls’ pitch to voters.

“Israel is under attack. We are negotiating with Iran and tearing asunder our relationship with Israel,” Bush said on Thursday as he promised to restore U.S. leadership in the world. “If we are serious, we need to – not just symbolically – be engaged, but get back in the business of showing support to our strongest ally we have in the Middle East.”

The comments prompted a supporter to approach this reporter and whisper: “Shalom. I support Israel; we all do.”

Earlier in the day, Ted Cruz addressed some 150 supporters at the Theos diner in Manchester, NH. In his remarks, Cruz repeated his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on his first day in office. A supporter turned around to tell this reporter, “I am going to clap my hands for this.” Outside the event, a volunteer handing out yard signs expressed hope the Texas Senator would win the New York primary in April with the help of Jewish voters. “I can’t imagine Jews in New York not supporting Ted Cruz for president,” he said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also campaigned in New Hampshire on Thursday. During a town hall in Meredith, NH, Christie said he would invite the leaders of six U.S. allies, including Israel, UK, France and Germany, to Camp David for separate meetings during his first months in office. The first hour of each visit, he said, would be dedicated to his counterparts’ “venting” about how Obama treated them during his presidency. “Maybe two hours for Netanyahu,” he quipped.

On Friday, during a town hall meeting in Franklin, NH, Ohio Governor John Kasich said that one of his acts on the first day of his presidency would be calling foreign leaders and arranging dates to visit their countries. “You’ve got to make a bunch of calls to foreign leaders, and you’ve got to arrange a quick visit to get over there to talk to them about how these relationships can be revived,” Kasich said. “

“Of course I would visit Israel. They are a great ally,” Kasich told Jewish Insider. “And if we get some time – I haven’t thought about this before in any depth – I have things I would like to talk with some foreign leaders about. If I go on a foreign trip, it isn’t because I got to learn – you know, like I go to this country because I want to be an expert – I have already been to most of the places, and I know foreign policy. But there are some people that I would like to talk to about a lot of global strategies.”

Asked if he would travel to Israel during the campaign season, Kasich said, “We will see if one is coming up. I don’t want to get ahead of myself because we got to do well in New Hampshire.”

At the Kasich event, Russell Taub, wearing a Republican Jewish Coalition tag, said he came up from Rhode Island to watch Kasich speak. “I support him because he is a common sense guy – drawing support from Republicans, Independents and even Democrats. And, he is very pro-Israel,” Taub told Jewish Insider.

Some of the leading Republican hopefuls addressed New Hampshire Republicans at the NH GOP Presidential Town Hall Summit in Nashua on Saturday. Marco Rubio, the first candidate to address the gathering, promised to cancel “this ridiculous deal with Iran” on Day One, while Jeb Bush made moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem his sole Day One pledge. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum also vowed to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as one of his first moves as president.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, however, spoke about foreign policy in general terms during his speech. But he mainly focused on touting his libertarian views and cross-over appeal. The only Jewish reference was made in regards to reports that Michael Bloomberg, the former Mayor of New York City, is considering to run for president as an independent. As first reported by The New York Times, the Jewish media mogul told his associates he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money on a White House bid if it appeared Trump or Cruz would face Bernie Sanders in the general election.

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