From AIPAC To Trump: Meet Michael Glassner — National Political Director for Donald Trump: Yesterday, we spoke with Glassner at length about his background in politics and how one goes from serving as AIPAC’s Southwest Regional Political Director a year ago to running Trump’s national political operation today.
Background: As a 20-year-old college student from Kansas, Glassner signed on to Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign where he served as Dole’s traveling aide. “I became the right hand man for the Senate Majority Leader and a presidential candidate,” Glassner related. “It was a tremendous education in politics and that was the beginning of what became a 15-year relationship as I worked for Senator Dole in a number of capacities.”
Upon moving to New Jersey in the late nineties, Glassner served as a senior advisor to Lewis Eisenberg, the then-Chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and a prominent Republican Jewish leader. He worked out of the Port Authority’s World Trade Center office but left just prior to 9/11 to join IDT Corp in Newark. Glassner credits his former boss, IDT founder Howard Jonas, whom he referred to as “a strong Zionist and an AIPAC guy,” with encouraging him to become more active in pro-Israel politics. Intermittently between 2000 to 2008, Glassner would take time off to return to the campaign trail: running George W. Bush’s general election campaign in Iowa, fundraising for Bush’s ’04 re-election effort, and in ’08, where he managed Sarah Palin’s vice presidential campaign.
Fast Forward: “My interest in pro-Israel politics had grown exponentially,” Glassner recalled. “Particularly since 9-11, which represented a real credible threat to all Americans and in particular as a Jew, I felt very strongly about the threat of radical Islam and so I became more and more involved with AIPAC.” In 2014, Glassner officially joined AIPAC as their Southwest Regional Political Director where, according to his LinkedIn profile, he managed AIPAC’s legislative mobilizations, conducted briefings with candidates, and spoke at political events throughout the region.
Glassner left AIPAC in July 2015 to join Trump’s campaign: “The Trump campaign came to me for a lot of reasons,” Glassner told us regarding the recruitment process. “I think they were looking for somebody that had experience in presidential politics and who was already in the area, and I live in New Jersey.” And, of course, there was the Sarah Palin factor. “The Palin connection was also very attractive to them because, although Palin and McCain’s campaign was not successful, I think that was sort of a marker for the anti-establishment movement… I think that that helped my credentials in this arena because I’ve shown that I was willing to take on the status quo, willing to buck the establishment, and I think that is what this campaign is all about.”
Q: Dole, Bush, McCain, AIPAC aren’t usually thought of as anti-establishment, do you consider yourself more anti-establishment now? MG: “Yeah, I would think so. I’ve never lived in DC, I’m not part of the Beltway. It was probably the experience with McCain and Palin in particular that caused me to lose much of my faith in the traditional Republican Party establishment and the media because of the way they treated Palin. I remained loyal to her during the campaign and afterwards, and that was not well rewarded by either the party or the media. I didn’t leave the Republican Party, they left me, or whatever the saying is. I am a Conservative and I still believe in conservative values but sort of the traditional power structure has become archaic, unmanageable and ineffective. You know, I’m an avowed capitalist. The combination of those two just make Mr. Trump’s model most attractive to me and a lot of Americans.”
Q: Was it hard to convince Palin to endorse Trump? MG: “No. They established a relationship some time back and I think that her inclinations are very much aligned with his. Mr. Trump did the persuading. I think it was helpful that she had a friend here in the campaign, somebody she knew. I had demonstrated my loyalty to her and I think that helped, but ultimately, it was everything that he is saying about the country that is in line with what she’s been saying. I think that’s a natural alliance in my view.”
Glassner’s Bottom Line: “I don’t think there can be any question about Trump’s steadfast support for Israel. By the way, that’s a central tenet of my personal beliefs, and I would not be working here if I didn’t believe that that was held by the candidate himself. It’s very important to me, very important to him and the country… Anybody who wants to is welcome to get on board the train.” The entire conversation will be posted on JewishInsider.com
HEARD LAST NIGHT: Trump ‘neutral on Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Trump refused to take a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, maintaining a ‘neutral’ approach when asked about it on Wednesday. During a televised MSNBC town hall Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, host Joe Scarborough asked the Republican presidential hopeful whether the ongoing conflict and bloodshed is the Israelis or Palestinians’ fault? “Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault is it,” Trump replied. According to Trump, “If I do win, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability, our country has no unpredictability. If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved.’”
On pursuing a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians: “I will give it one hell of a shot. It’s possible it’s not makeable, because don’t forget it has to last — it’s wonderful to make it and it doesn’t work, but it has to last. To make lasting peace there? Probably the toughest deal of all but I’m going to give it a shot… You have one side in particular growing up and learning that ‘these are the worst people, these are the worst people, etc., etc..’ I was with a very prominent Israeli the other day and he said it’s impossible because the other side has been trained from the time they’re children to hate Jewish people. I’m going to give it a shot.” [JI; BI; VanityFair]
Aaron Keyak’s take: “Commenting on Trump’s remarks, Aaron Keyak, co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, said he finds it fascinating that Trump “seems to be so reckless on every issue besides Israel. On Israel, Trump appears to calculate his position,” Keyak told Jewish Insider. “This is a man who sees the world as black and white and only on Israel he sees some grey. For Trump to come to the table as neutral and not acknowledging Palestinian terror attacks, it’s truly shocking. It seems that on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he actually believes in what he says.”
Jeffrey Goldberg: “Donald Trump poses a challenge for the BDS movement; “neutral’ on Israel, but also demonizes Muslims.” [Twitter]
Sen. Cory Booker on Donald Trump: “I know Donald Trump, I’ve met him, I know his family,” Booker said. “I have love, and friendship, and affection for his family members. But I’m going to work very hard to ensure that he is not our president.” “Ivanka is a woman of great grace and kindness and has been a good friend to me,” he added. “We attack each other so viciously in this political cycle, not knowing their heart, not knowing their character.” [BusinessInsider]
KRISTOL BALL: “Bill Kristol knows his predictions have been bad but he’s going to keep making them” by Paul Farhi: “In an interview, Kristol suggests his Twitter predictions carry an implied caveat — for amusement and/or discussion purposes only. “My predictions are lighthearted,” he says. “I try to predict long shots. I don’t take it very seriously.” He continues: “People get too attached to the conventional wisdom. Provoking people to think things might turn out differently, I’ve found, is generally a useful thing. . . . It’s sort of educational. I do try to be provocative.” [WashPost]
DONOR WATCH: “Hillary Clinton Donors Hear Concerns About Nevada Outcome” by Jason Horowitz: “Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager, sat at the head of a conference table in the New York office of Clinton donor and Wall Street investor Marc Lasry, according to accounts from people in the room. Mr. Mook told the donors that the outcome in Nevada, a state he ran for Mrs. Clinton in the 2008 campaign, was hard to predict and that, depending on turnout, Mrs. Clinton could win by a lot or win or lose by a tiny margin.” [FirstDraft]
Nathan Guttman: “Sheldon Adelson’s Still on the Sidelines: The GOP Asks Why?” [Forward]
FLORIDA STYLE: “House Speaker Paul Ryan drops by Sembler’s pad — with an FHP escort” by Katherine Snow Smith: “U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday visited a St. Petersburg house, or condo tower rather, causing plenty of gawking downtown at the bevy of limousines and security provided by Florida Highway Patrol and the St. Petersburg Police Department. Top GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler and his wife Betty live in the penthouse of Ovation tower where the vehicles were parked.” [BayBuzz]
SCHUMER VS. WHITE HOUSE — by Jacob Kornbluh: “Schumer called the proposed 2017 budget — which reduces funding to the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) from $600 million in 2016 to $330 million in 2017 — a “punch in the gut” to local law enforcement on anti-terror missions. “The president, in general, has been very good on security, but this is a serious mistake. With ISIS-inspired attacks and terrorism on the rise all across the globe, we must make sure that America has the resources it needs to remain protected.” [JewishInsider]
WH Press Sec. Earnest: “I will just say that at some point, Senator Schumer’s credibility in talking about national security issues — particularly when the facts are as they are when it relates to homeland security — have to be affected by the position that he’s taken on other issues. Senator Schumer is somebody that came out and opposed the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He was wrong about that position. And most Democrats agreed — disagreed with him in taking that position. And when people look at the facts here when it comes to funding for homeland security, they’ll recognize that he’s wrong this time, too.” [CSPAN; NYPost]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: “WeWork Real Estate Chief Mark Lapidus Is Basking in His Company’s Nonstop Success” [Observer] • JDS & Chetrit’s 73-Story Tower Would Be Brooklyn’s Tallest by Far [NYTimes] • “Fla. Appeals Court Revives Widow’s $100M Copter Crash Suit Against Jeffrey Soffer” [Law360] • “Israel High Tech Industry Growth Slowing Amid Manpower Shortage” [Bloomberg] • “What Israel Could Teach the U.S. about Cybersecurity” [Yahoo]
PROFILE: “The Most Important Apple Executive You’ve Never Heard Of” by Brad Stone: “At the center of all this is Srouji, 51, an Israeli who joined Apple after jobs at Intel and IBM. He’s compact, he’s intense, and he speaks Arabic, Hebrew, and French… Srouji recently spent several hours with Bloomberg Businessweek over several days and guided a tour of Apple chip facilities in Cupertino, Calif., and Herzliya, Israel… Srouji was born in Haifa, a port city in northern Israel. He was the third child of four. His family was Christian Arab, a minority within a minority in the Jewish state.”
“In 1993, Srouji left IBM for Intel, where he created techniques for running simulations that test the strength of semiconductor designs. During a visit to the U.S. in 1999, he used a 20-minute car ride with a manager, fellow Israeli Uri Weiser, to lobby for a three-year stint at Intel’s research hub in Austin. Assuming Srouji was also Jewish, Weiser invited him to an Israeli Memorial Day celebration at a synagogue in Texas. “He looked at me and said, ‘I’m a Christian Arab,’ ” recalls Weiser, who gave Srouji the Texas assignment. “I said, ‘Well, come and join and learn about your environment,’ and he said OK. He was there sitting with a kippah in the synagogue and following everything.” [Businessweek]
CAMPUS BEAT: “Majoring in Anti-Semitism at Vassar” by Mark Yudof and Ken Waltzer:“Wild charges against Israel have often been aired on U.S. campuses over the past several years, and their moral perversity pointed out. But Ms. Puar’s calumnies reached a new low. She spoke of Jews deliberately starving Palestinians, “stunting” and “maiming” a population. The false accusation that a people, some of whose members were experimented on at Auschwitz, are today experimenting on others is a disgrace… These events are transforming a prestigious institution into a parody ripe for ridicule—a place embarrassing to prominent alumni and worrisome for prospective Jewish students.” [WSJ]
–Inbox: “A report released today by the Israel on Campus Coalition details how anti-Israel campus groups in the United States made significant efforts to strengthen ties with allies on campus and in their communities during the fall 2015 semester. ICC observed a shift away from BDS resolutions in favor of theatrics and disruptive tactics.”
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Robert Caro Wonders What New York Is Going To Become” by Christopher Robbins: “The inspiration for the authoritative book on power in New York City came from the author’s realization that he understood nothing of it. “I spent a lot of time thinking, if you’re really interested in political power, everything you do is bullshit,” Robert Caro told us recently… Last week, Caro took a break from writing the fifth and final installment of The Years of Lyndon Johnson—a series he began researching 42 years ago—to talk about how his time at the library helped him during a dark period of his life, why the decisions Robert Moses made are still gridlocking New York, and what he misses most about being a newspaper reporter.” [Gothamist]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “How faith will influence Kirk Cousins’s free agency decision” by Dan Steinberg: “Cousins again returned to Esther before the December win over the Bears, which started Washington’s season-ending four-game win streak. “This verse says, depending on the translation you read, it says ‘On the 13th day of the 12th month, on the day when the Jews enemies had hoped to overpower them, the tables turned and the Jews overpowered those who hated them,” Cousins told the congregation. “And we had been praying that: ‘Lord, would you turn the tables in our lives, just like you did for the Jewish people and for your people in the Book of Esther.’ And we prayed that all season, and we get to the Chicago game , which happens to be played on December 13th, the 13th day of the 12th month.” [WashingtonPost]
SPORTS BLINK: “Israeli soccer-turned-football star Mesika headed to US tryout: The 27-year-old from Herzliya has impressed New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and several football coaches with his outstanding abilities as a kicker.” [JPost]
“Israel’s first NBA player Omri Casspi having breakout season” by Aron Heller: “When Omri Casspi was 13, his family took him on a Bar Mitzvah trip to the United States, the highlight of which was a visit to New York City where the Israeli youngster stood in front of Madison Square Garden and boldly vowed he would one day play there… Eight years later, Casspi captured his country’s imagination by becoming the first Israeli to have success playing in the NBA.” [AP]
DESSERT: “At kosher ski restaurant in Park City, an avalanche of challenges” by Uriel Heilman: “Between the good food, fantastic skiing and lack of any kosher competition for hundreds of miles in any direction, Prime is doing brisk business. But because the only way to purchase wine in Mormon-majority Utah is via state liquor stores, Masliah is in a bind. He just doesn’t have enough of the stuff. The order he placed three weeks ago with the state store, as required by law, still hasn’t come through. Getting kosher wine is just one of the many unique challenges of running a kosher restaurant on a ski mountain in a remote Western state with hardly any Jews.” [JTA]
BIRTHDAYS: Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) turns 69… Actor and comedian, Ike Barinholtz, turns 39… Singer-songwriter and pianist, Regina Spektor, turns 36…
** Market downturn? Israel VC is thriving: Last week, Jon Medved, Founder & CEO of OurCrowd, explained to CNN’s Richard Question why tech investment in 2016 makes sense. OurCrowd is a world-leading equity-based crowdfunding platform, built for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for Israeli and global startups. Membership in the community is vetted and offered only to people who meet the stringent accreditation criteria. Accredited investors who are accepted into the community can make minimum investments of $10,000 per deal. Watch the interview [OurCrowd] **
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