GOP targets moderate Dems using Ilhan Omar’s remarks
American Action Network, a conservative advocacy nonprofit group founded by former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) and the recently deceased GOP donor Fred Malek, launched the first stage of a six-figure campaign that targets Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her “anti-Semitic slurs.” The ad urges House Democrats to “stand up to hate” and remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
AAN, affiliated with the GOP Congressional Leadership Fund, also plans to air 30-second online ads in four swing districts held by moderate freshman Democrats — Reps. Dean Phillips (MN03), Abigail Spanberger (VA07), Tom Malinowski (NJ07) and Haley Stevens (MI11).
“Ilhan Omar is an antisemite and it is time for her colleagues take action,” AAN President Dan Conston said in a statement.
Conston told Jewish Insider that the campaign may expand to other districts depending on the steps they determine are most effective in seeing Omar’s removal from the HFAC.
REACTION — Dem pollster Mark Mellman, who also serves as president of the Democratic Majority for Israel, tells us: “Republican efforts to turn Israel into a wedge issue damages Israel. Republican attacks on Congresswoman Omar may be good for AAN’s fundraising, but are counterproductive. Republican attempts to smear strong pro-Israel Members of Congress like Dean Phillips, Abigail Spanberger, Tom Malinowski, and Haley Stevens are dishonest, deceptive and disgusting. Sincere advocates of a strong U.S. Israel relationship would be thanking them for their staunch support not attempting to mislead their constituents.”
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “The logic of trying to tag strong Democratic supporters of Israel with the remarks of others that they have condemned escapes me. It makes little sense if you care about bipartisanship in support for Israel, and it will convince no one but those who want to use Israel as a political football. Fortunately, most voters don’t. This will be money poorly spent.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski told Jewish Insider’s Laura Kelly: “As I’ve said many, many times, I think the worst thing we can do, if we care about the US-Israeli relationship, is to turn it into a partisan issue.”
Coleman, who also serves as National Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), defended his group’s activities in an email to Jewish Insider. “We are not politicizing Israel. We are calling out antisemitism,” Coleman stressed. “The tragedy is that calling out antisemitism has been politicized — by the far-left — who have muzzled reasonable Democrat voices through fear of pushback from the Democrat base.”
An AAN official argued that the strategy behind targeting thought to be “reasonable Democrats” is because they are the most likely to feel pressure in their respective district to do something to spur action.
According to Coleman, AAN is only challenging Rep Omar over her repeated use of antisemitic tropes, not for her criticism of Israel. “Shame on those who don’t have the courage to call out as antisemites those who traffic in accusing Jews of dual loyalty, hypnotizing their critics, and using ‘the Benjamin’s’ (money) to buy Israel’s support. This is Ilhan Omar, and this is classic antisemitism.”
By Jacob Kornbluh in New York. Jacob is the national politics reporter for Jewish Insider. Follow him at @jacobkornbluh