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LIVE BLOG: U.S. presidential candidates speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition
Haaretz’s minute-by-minute updates as Republican presidential hopefuls talk about Israel, American Jews, the economy and the Iranian threat.
Source: Haaretz, 12-7-11
Hundreds of people convened Wednesday on a rainy morning in the Ronald Reagan building at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington. Unlike the presidential debates, this time the candidates took stage one by one, offering to answer the audience’s questions.
There was one candidate missing, though. The organizers have decided not invite Rep. Ron Paul, saying that even though the decision seems “ill advised,” there is no reason “to allow Paul to pretend he is anything but an extremist who is far outside of the mainstream, especially when it comes to issues concerning the U.S.-Israel alliance.”….
Video: Newt Speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum
Newt discusses his support of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s chosen capital of Jerusalem…. Read Full Story
Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks to Republican Jewish Coalition
Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C. The following remarks were prepared for delivery.
I am grateful to the Republican Jewish Coalition for hosting this forum.
Thank you Chairman Flaum and Matt Brooks for your leadership.
And, of course, I join you in honoring the service of Ambassador Sam Fox. Ambassador Fox has contributed in extraordinary ways to our economy, to our communities, to our nation, and to Israel.
Today, we gather as Republicans, Americans, and friends of Israel. For us, the last three years have held a lot of change, but haven’t offered much hope.
Our debt is too high and opportunities are too few. Almost a trillion dollars in failed stimulus and trillions more in deficits have left millions of Americans out of work.
The unemployment rate has been over 8% for 34 months. Over the last four years, the median American income has fallen by 10%, even as the costs of food and fuel and healthcare have risen. Americans are suffering. The poor have a safety net and the rich are doing just fine, but middle-income Americans have never seen things so bad.
Internationally, we have witnessed a weakening of our military and a decline in our standing in the world.
President Obama’s troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan were based upon electoral expediency, not military requirement.
He has bowed to foreign dictators. And when the opportunity arose to defend freedom, he’s either been late to the game or failed to show up at all.
President Obama rushed to apologize for America, but he has hesitated to speak up for democracy and freedom.
He has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq. He even offered to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in three years, he has not found it in his interest to visit Israel, our ally, our friend, the sole Middle East nation that fully shares our values, the nation in President Truman’s words, that is an “embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”
No, over the past three years, President Obama has instead chastened Israel. In his inaugural address to the United Nations, the President chastised Israel, but said little about the thousands of Hamas rockets raining into its skies. He’s publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He’s insulted its Prime Minister. And he’s been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.
These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table. President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.
As President, my policies will be very different. I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them dearly.
I would not meet with Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. He should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the Genocide Convention. Iran’s ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the entire world. Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve.
Today, you will hear from several of my fellow Republicans. Like me, each will acknowledge President Obama’s failings toward Israel. Like me, each will assure you of our friendship and commitment to Israel. We are not distinguished from one another by our opposition to President Obama … or even by our support for Israel. What distinguishes us is our experience, our perspective, and our judgment.
I spent 25 years in business. I’ve signed the front and the back of a paycheck. I’ve helped businesses, like the Sports Authority and Staples, to grow from start-ups to international enterprises. I’ve served as governor of a state and the steward of the Olympics.
My perspective is informed by those experiences and by the defining constants in my life: my 42-year marriage to my wife, Ann; the life we’ve built with our five sons; and the faith that sustains us. My family, my faith, and our freedom – these are enduring truths in my life. My commitments are firm, and they do not falter.
When I was young, I had the opportunity to live abroad. I recognized that the greatest advantage my parents had given me was being born in America. I am passionate about the principles that have made this nation the land of opportunity and a shining city on a hill.
I believe in America. I believe it is the greatest nation in the history of the earth. I believe that the next century must be an American century. Our highest priority must be to maintain a people, an economy, and a military so strong that no nation would ever risk challenging it.
My faith in America stems both from my faith in the American people, and from the principles that have made our people strong. We are a people from all parts of the world and all walks of life, but we are strengthened by our nation’s unique founding principles. It is not accident or luck that made America the greatest nation in the world – it is the power of our values and beliefs.
We weathered a Great Depression. We emerged victorious from two world wars. We faced down an Evil Empire.
Today, as we face new challenges and threats, I have every conviction that the American people, edified by American principles, will rise to the occasion again, securing our safety, our prosperity, and our peace.
One of these principles is a merit-based society. In a merit-based society, people achieve success and rewards through hard work, education, risk taking, and even a little luck. The founders considered this principle to be one endowed by our Creator, and called it the “pursuit of happiness.” We call it opportunity, or we call it the freedom to choose our course in life.
A merit-based, opportunity society gathers and creates a citizenry that pioneers, that invents, that builds and creates. And as these people exert the effort and take the risks inherent in invention and creation, they employ and lift the rest of us, creating prosperity for us all. The rewards they earn do not make the rest of us poorer, they make us better off.
American prosperity is fully dependent upon our opportunity society. I don’t think President Obama understands that. I don’t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in the world. I don’t think he understands America.
He seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing—the government.
Entitlement societies are praised in academic circles, far removed from the reality of a competitive world. Opportunity is replaced by the certainty that everyone in an entitlement society will enjoy nearly the same rewards. But there is another certainty: they will be poor.
In an entitlement society, the invigorating pursuit of happiness is replaced by the deadening reality that there is no prospect of a better tomorrow. Risk-taking disappears, innovation withers, and small business is replaced by large, government enterprises. And the result is a nation that stagnates, that declines, that cannot defend itself.
I am convinced that this is where President Obama’s “fundamental change” is leading America. And it informs aspects of his foreign policy. Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. Appeasement betrays a lack of faith in America, in American strength, and in America’s future.
Like others among the Washington elite, he believes that America’s role as the leader of the world is a thing of the past; that this will be a post-American century, perhaps an Asian century. American strength, he imagines, will eventually or possibly be eclipsed. And so, President Obama seeks to appease those he believes will balance us or challenge our leadership.
This appeasement by this Administration has taken many forms. It includes offers to engage with the world’s most despicable dictators. It consists of concessions to Russia to remove our missile defense sites from Poland and to exclude tactical nuclear weapons from the new, remarkably one-sided, New START treaty. President Obama even looks the other way as China employs unfair trade tactics that endanger our economy and kill jobs.
This President appears more generous to our enemies than he is to our friends. Such is the natural tendency of someone who is unsure of America’s strength – or of America’s rightful place in the world. The course of appeasement and accommodation has long been the path chosen by the weak and the timid. And history shows it is a path that nation’s choose at their own peril.
The President promised that he would fundamentally change America. He is doing just that. At home, he is changing us from an opportunity nation to an entitlement nation. He is building a government so large that feeding it consumes a greater and greater share of the people’s production. And it is a government so intrusive that it can command free people and free enterprises according to its bureaucratic will.
Abroad, he is weakening America, shrinking our military, shrinking our commitments to our friends, accommodating our foes, and appeasing the competing forces that are vying for global leadership.
This election is not only a referendum on President Obama’s failures on employment, on income growth, on housing, on recovery, or on a nuclear-intent Iran, on an emboldened China and on friends like Israel being put at greater risk. This election will decide what kind of America we will be. It is defining.
Will we remain an opportunity nation or become an entitlement nation? Will we remain the leader of the free world, or become a follower in a more dangerous world? Will America be transformed by Barack Obama, or will America be restored with the founding principles that have made this the greatest nation history has ever known?
Many think that because of his staggering failures, President Obama will be easily defeated. But an incumbent is rarely turned out of the White House, and his resort to class warfare and demagoguery are powerful political weapons.
In less than a year, Americans will be asked to make a choice about the kind of country they want to live in and the kind of future they will bequeath to their children.
It will be a choice between entitlement and merit, between appeasement and resolve.
Our party must offer a candidate who can make the case for freedom, opportunity and strength. Our nominee must offer Americans more than just a chance to vote against President Obama; our nominee must give Americans an opportunity to vote for a different path and a better future. A path dictated not by government, but determined by a free people. A path marked by the virtues of merit, not by the slow decline of entitlement. A path that achieves prosperity through opportunity, and peace through strength.
This is what Americans deserve. This is what the moment demands. And this is what I will deliver, with your help.
Join me. Join me, and I will lead our Party and our Nation through these difficult times to a brighter future.
America has been a shining city on a hill. That light is dimming. But together, we will reignite the spirit of American greatness.
We have wandered and drifted. I will lead us to a better place. Join me, and together we will reclaim and rebuild the America we love.
I believe in America. Our fight starts today. Join me.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
Rick Santorum: National security could trump economy in 2012 election
Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum Dec. 7, 2011 at Ronald Reagan Building and International Center in Washington. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
Former Sen. Rick Santorum said there’s good reason why he’s talking a lot more about foreign policy than other Republican candidates.
“Because I believe that there’s a very good chance that by next election day, the national security issues in this country will be of higher priority in the eyes of the American people than the economy,” he said Wednesday morning in Washington.
Santorum was the first of six Republican presidential candidates — and one potential vice presidential nominee — to speak at a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Invoking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the former Pennsylvania senator slammed President Obama for a policy of “appeasement” with regard to Iran that has allowed that nation to become a much bigger threat.
“I know people in this country are tired of war. But our Pearl Harbor already happened,” he said.
Iran has grown stronger because of Obama’s indifference, he argued. The so-called Arab spring should have begun in Iran in 2009, but Obama failed to support democratic uprisings there. And yet he threw an ally of the United States and Israel — Egypt — “under the bus” in the face of demonstrations that included the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The president, for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, has had nothing but appeasement,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, learn from history.”
Jon Huntsman, who spoke next, was a marked contrast in tone, focusing his remarks on the economy, and a larger sense in the nation that there is no longer trust in its leaders.
“We are in a deep funk as a people,” he said. “And we are crazy in this country if we don’t find the kind of leadership that we so desperately need.”
Jon Huntsman: My foreign policy is focused on economy
Source: CBS News, 12-7-11
Unlike other GOP presidential candidates who moved to paint themselves as the greatest potential allies to Israel at a gathering of Republican Jewish voters in Washington on Wednesday, Jon Huntsman focused his remarks almost exclusively on the economy.
The former Utah governor said he wanted a foreign policy determined “first and foremost by economics,” and went on to deliver his standard call to reduce the national debt and bring down joblessness. He got mostly tepid applause from the audience at the forum, where all six candidates are scheduled to speak today.
Huntsman did finally get to the topic of Israel during the last few minutes of his speech.
“What matters to me is our commitment to Israel, that there be no blue sky between us,” Huntsman said. “There is some sense today that we are not together. Those days under my administration will be gone.”
Prodded to elaborate on his Middle East policy in the question and answer session with the audience, Huntsman said that he will not stand for a nuclear Iran and that in containing the Iranian threat, “all options are on the table.”
TRANSCRIPT: Michele Bachmann Delivers Remarks At Republican Jewish Coalition Forum
Source: Yeshiva World, 12-7-11
“I’m honored to be here today in the company of so many friends. Thank you Dan for that kind introduction. Like this organization, I have been a long-time advocate for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. My love for Israel and its people deepened while I worked on a kibbutz just after graduating from high school.
“Today, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day a 19-year-old Minnesotan on board a submarine patrol in the waters outside of Pearl Harbor reported sighting a Japanese submarine, but the warning sign of the bigger calamity to come was all but ignored. The same is true today with Iran and other dangerous actors in the world. We are ignoring the warning signs, and I worry what other ‘Pearl Harbors’ might be in our future.
“It seems as if lately, our president has forgotten the importance of Israel to America and thinks of our relationship only in terms of what we do for Israel. The president is more concerned about Israel building homes on its own land than the threats that Israel and America face in the region.
“The president was right to promise to veto the Palestinians‘ bid for statehood in the U.N. Security Council. But in large part it is the president’s weakness in the Middle East that has emboldened the Palestinians to attempt to achieve statehood through the U.N. rather than at the legitimate negotiation table with Israel. Our policy has confused engagement with appeasement and has inspired Israel’s enemies.
“The Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel in order to become a serious partner in peace with Israel.
“My administration’s policy will be that, the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its prior agreements is the first step that must be taken to assure peace in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority must meet its existing written obligations to collect illegal weapons; pursue terrorists; cooperate with Israeli security forces; change the Fatah Constitution which still calls for the complete eradication of the State of Israel; and to stop inciting terrorism.
“I stand with Israel. And aid to Israel now more than ever, is a necessity–they are our most trusted ally and the only real democracy in the Middle East. But if we are to continue to provide assistance to Israel, we must get our own fiscal house in order.
“A vocal minority, called Occupy Wall Street, otherwise known as the Obama re-election team, believes that the economic problems we face are capitalism or free markets. They’re not. The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends. The problem is one set of standards for individual Americans and another set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates.
“The problem is an individual tax code with 3.8 million words that’s too complicated for the average American to understand and a corporate tax code that makes America hopelessly uncompetitive at almost 40 percent when you add the federal and state taxes. And a tax code that contains loopholes that are exploited by companies large enough to hire an army of lawyers. As Investor’s Business Daily wrote, in 1981 the entire developed world had high corporate tax rates, averaging 47 percent. Then capital became mobile and rates plummeted to 25 percent and haven’t stopped falling. The United States remains stuck since 1986 in an out of date high corporate tax rate that sent companies fleeing America for a more competitive tax climate. Just ask any number of companies why they left America and they’ll tell you that between the high tax and unreasonable regulatory burden in America, other nations are now a more profitable place to do business. For your sake and your future, America, and Occupy Wall Street in particular, needs to wake up and stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians who wink at their political donors.
“Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail.
“It happens every day, and it has to stop. After all, we’re not a Banana Republic; we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it.
“We need a system that forces large, well connected corporations to play by the same rules as small businesses and individual Americans and that protects and provides fair competition in free markets.
“You see, there’s a reason our Founding Fathers decided to establish our political capital in a different city than our financial capital. It’s time for us to reaffirm the wisdom of that decision by getting Washington D.C. out of free markets. I’m running for president because I understand the difference between free markets and Bernie Madoff style government.
“My administration will stop the Obama administration’s dangerous policies and delegitimization of Israel. Obama has delegitimized Israel by wrongly describing Israel as a 60-years long occupation, which displaced and caused Palestinian suffering, and by wrongly blaming Israel and settlements for the lack of peace in the Middle East.
“Obama abandoned prior U.S. policy and U.N. Resolution 242’s insistence that Israel is entitled to defensible borders. The Obama administration also abrogated former President Bush’s commitments in Bush’s 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon. Bush’s letter and subsequent Congressional resolutions committed the U.S. to the policy that Israel will retain large West Bank settlement blocks, that there will be no right of return to Israel for ‘Palestinian’ refugees, and that the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its obligations, including the Palestinian Authority’s obligation to stop inciting terror, is the first step that must be taken towards Middle East peace.
“Instead, Obama improperly calls for Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines with swaps, and to then still face further demands to divide Jerusalem and allow a Palestinian ‘right of return’ to overrun the entire State of Israel. The Obama administration has also unconditionally given the Palestinians unprecedented amounts of U.S. foreign aid, and opposed Congressional efforts to condition aid on the real steps that would bring about peace.
“The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return,’ would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs who never lived in Israel, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state.
“Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently once again publicly displayed this administrations disdain for Israel putting Israel on the same footing as the Palestinians and declaring that they ‘get to the damn table’ to resume peace talks. And the president derisively said Israel’s Prime Minister was someone ‘he had to deal with everyday.’ But the president’s ambassador to Belgium went even further and justified anti-Semitism because of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians, and the president should fire him for those irresponsible remarks.
“Instead of defaming Israel, as the Obama administration has done, my administration will recognize that, in the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, Israel is a country that ‘is based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets,’ and which has ‘safeguard[ed] the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions.’
“And like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, my administration will similarly call upon Israel’s neighbors to cooperate with the Jewish nation and return to the ways of peace for the common good of all.
“While the president demands Israel give back land necessary to protect their existence, he has taken his eye off of the most serious threat to Middle East security, a nuclear Iran. Some 80 years ago the world saw evil rising. A mad man spoke, but the world did not listen and the world sank into an enormous conflict and millions of Jews lost their lives.
“Today a mad man again speaks and once again it seems as if the world isn’t really listening though Iran’s president has made his intentions for Israel clear. He intends to wipe Israel from the face of the earth once he obtains nuclear weapons, and he will seek to use them against the United States shortly after achieving his first goal.
“Consider the Iranian constitution, which states that Iran’s Army and Revolutionary Guard ‘will be responsible…for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.’
“And Iran has made good on that promise over the last 30 years from the bombing of the United States Marine base in Beirut to being the leading supplier of arms to kill Americans in Iraq. Iran is at the heart of much of Israel’s problems.
“Two principles must guide U.S. policy toward Iran. First, we must never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. And second, we must realize that this is as much a threat to U.S. national security as it is to Israel’s and should not outsource U.S. national security to the United Nations. This is the moment for clarity in standing with Israel and against Iran.
“We can’t afford to wait until the election to change course, the president must make it the policy of the United States now to support the dissidents of the current regime in Iran to bring down the terrorist leaders and replace it with a democratic government at peace with the U.S., Israel and the free world.
“The U.S. must be clear that it is the policy of the United States to stop Iran from building and deploying nuclear weapons. In leading from behind the president has been ambiguous with Iran and has given them the luxury of time to advance their nuclear weapons program without real punishment as we learned from the IAEA report last week.
“The U.S. should develop and deploy comprehensive ballistic missile systems on land, at sea, in the air, and in space to protect the American people and our allies from the threat of ballistic missiles. Iran, with the help of the Chinese has obtained missile delivery systems for nuclear weapons that pose a threat to Israel, to the region and potentially the United States.
“While the United States does not buy oil from Iran, Iran is a major player in the oil market and affects its price, which directly affects the United States. We need to legalize American energy production to free us from Iran’s influence through oil.
“The U.S. must immediately end appeasement and weakness towards Iran and pursue decisive, common sense strategies ignored or rejected by the current administration.
“We need Secretaries of State and Defense who fully support a pro-freedom and security policy towards Iran, and we need them to replace those in the bureaucracy — especially at State — who will not fully support this policy.
“We need crushing economic sanctions on Iran, including on the central bank and the oil and gas industries. We must hurt the Iranian economy more severely by doing damage to their oil revenues and their central bank.
“The president stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend. The State Department should regularly expose the atrocious activities of the Iranian regime that are arresting, imprisoning, torturing and murdering innocent Iranian citizens.
“We must accelerate covert operations and cyber operations in Iran and order the CIA Director to take all means necessary to stop Iran from getting the Bomb before it is too late. The Pentagon should prepare a war plan, as a last resort, should all else fail in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
“But the president’s lack of leadership and the failure of the Supercommittee this week will lead to, in Defense Secretary Panetta’s words, ‘devastating cuts that will seriously damage readiness’ making a military response more difficult. President Obama has seriously damaged the security of Israel by decreasing our status as a military superpower.
“Part of that plan should be to direct the Navy to make preparations for a possible blockade of Iran’s ports from all oil and gas imports and exports to cut off critical petroleum revenues from going to the regime in Tehran.
“We should continue comprehensive missile defense development while moving additional Aegis and Patriot missile defense systems into the Middle East to protect U.S. citizens and assets, Israel and our allies. We must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker buster bombs, refueling tankers and other materials they need to defend themselves.
“A Bachmann administration will recognize that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a vibrant democracy and America’s staunch ally. My administration will fully recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and will be the first administration to finally implement the laws passed by Congress requiring the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My administration will also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights and any settlements, which Israel, as a sovereign state, chooses to annex. Simply put, my administration will accord Israel the respect to which sovereign, democratic nations are entitled.
“On the day of my inauguration as president I will announce that the U.S. Embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I do not take lightly the prospect of committing U.S. troops in an effort to stop Iran. Only a fool wishes for war. But we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon and massively destabilizing the region by attacking our ally Israel, and supplying those weapons to even more radical regimes or individuals that would use them to do harm to America and its way of life. I recognize that the security of America is intertwined with the security of Israel.
“Hitler once famously said in justification of his order to murder millions of Jews, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Ahmadinejad is counting on the same collective memory today as he marches toward a second holocaust.
“We must send him the message that – we will never forget!
“God bless you and God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.”