Interview with House candidate Harley Rouda

Democratic challenger Harley Rouda discussed his campaign against incumbent Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for California’s 48th Congressional District in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. Rohrabacher won his reelection bid in 2016 by 16 points. However, Hillary Clinton won the district in her presidential bid.

Democrats see an opportunity to defeat Rohrabacher, a Kremlin favorite who has been implicated in the Mueller probe and who recently came under fire for attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier in addition to endorsing an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism. A recent New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll shows Rohrabacher and Rouda tied at 45 percent.

“It’s clear that Dana Rohrabacher has embraced anti-Semitism and individuals who support it,” Rouda told Jewish Insider in a phone interview. “And we have seen that done repeatedly, where he has embraced the nationalistic attitudes of some of the folks in the 48th District that have supported his campaign. It is not representative of the vast majority of voters, and for many of the voters, they didn’t realize he and/or his friends had such anti-Semitic views, that it’s unacceptable, as far as I’m concerned.”

Rouda pointed to Rohrabacher’s comments following the Charlottesville protests, with the Republican Congressman calling it ‘a total hoax’ set up by Clinton and Sanders supporters. “That’s how ludicrous he’s become with some of his comments,” Rouda exclaimed. “Between that and the company he’s keeping and supporting, as well as his recent endorsement of Gracie van der Mark, shows that he’ll stoop to any low in an effort to embrace the far-right extremists.”

Rouda, backed by the mainstream Jewish Democratic Council of America as well as J Street, says he does not support the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act. And he is not concerned about declining Democratic support for Israel. “I don’t see a shift, personally,” Rouda said, “In fact, I’m a little more worried about the white nationalists that are part of the Republican Party moving more in a direction that is anti-Israel than anything I’ve seen in the Democratic Party.”

Rohrabacher dismissed Rouda’s criticism of being associated with anti-Semites by pointing out his pro-Israel record in an emailed statement to Jewish Insider.

 “I have a long track record, even before my work with Ronald Reagan, of support for Israel,” Rohrabacher exclaimed. ” There are certainly people who support me who I don’t agree with on certain issues. As Ronald Reagan said many times about people who supported him, they sign on to my philosophy, I don’t sign on to theirs. If anything Harley says is to be taken seriously, let’s hear him condemn the militants and radicals in the Democratic Party who hate Israel and hate Jews.”

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