November 14, 2018

Will Republican Jews dump Trump?

Donald Trump will set the cause of Republican Jews back 75 years.

That’s why the leading voice of Republican Jews seems to have all but abandoned the leading contender for the Republican nomination.

Trump’s bellicose takeover of the GOP has been met with a complete and telling silence from the Republican Jewish Coalition, the largest and most active group of Republican Jews. 

Trump is not mentioned on the group’s website.  He and his surrogates are not listed on its calendar of events. He is not even pictured on the group’s homepage. You know who is?  Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Scott Walker.  Two of those three men have already dropped out of the race. The leading contender for the Republican nomination?  Nowhere to be found.   

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks did not respond to my interview requests about Trump. Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz answered an email about whether Republican Jews will throw their support behind Trump with an uncharacteristically terse, “I have no idea.” 

Then, on March 1, Dan Senor, the co-author of the seminal book “Start-up Nation” who served as senior foreign policy adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign, announced he would not support Trump.

“I am not voting for Donald Trump,” Senor told Bloomberg News. “I am not voting for him in the primary, and I am not voting for him in the general.”

Folks, this is big.

Yes, there are assorted Jewish Americans who like Trump and will vote for him, even work for him — and I have received spiteful emails from all three of them.    

But for now, it looks like Trump will set a record for garnering the lowest Republican Jewish vote in 75 years. In 1940, Wendell Willkie received just 10 percent of the Jewish vote in his run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Trump could do worse. 

Of course, he could still win — maybe Hillary or Bernie stumble so badly Trump looks like John F. Kennedy. But history shows that a large Jewish vote, while it doesn’t guarantee a win, inoculates a GOP candidate against loss.

“The last losing GOP candidate to get more than 30 percent of the Jewish vote was Charles Evans Hughes, in 1916,” Jewish Journal Senior Political Editor Shmuel Rosner points out in his book, “The Jewish Vote: Obama vs. Romney, A Jewish Voters Guide.”  

“So you see, there’s a good reason … to invest in the Jewish vote … it is almost like getting insurance policy against losing.”

Trump has taken out no such policy.  He has reversed whatever progress Republicans have made in winning over more Jewish voters. He has alienated Republican Jews looking for any reason to get behind him.

The first breach occurred last December, when Trump appeared at a high-level RJC event in Washington, D.C .

According to a report by Jewish Insider, Trump told the well-heeled donor crowd, “I know why you are not going to support me. You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your own politicians.”

During the Q-and-A, Trump lifted his other middle finger to the conservative Jewish establishment, saying he wouldn’t commit to the idea of an undivided Jerusalem. The audience booed.

Last month, Trump declared he would be “neutral” about the Israelis and Palestinians, another taboo idea among Republicans, who proclaim unswerving loyalty to the current Israeli government. In response, Trump’s primary opponents condemned the idea of neutrality in the last Republican presidential debate.

And over the past two weeks, Trump has equivocated on whether he would disavow the losers’ row of anti-Semitic groups and individuals who have come out in support of his candidacy. Last week, I wrote that Trump has a white supremacist problem. A week later, the problem has reached Zika proportions.

But Trump has yet to back down.  Not on calling the Republican Jewish establishment rich puppet masters. Not on BS-ing his way through Middle East politics, not on quoting Mussolini or retweeting anti-Semites.

In effect, Trump has been saying, “Screw you” to the largest base of organized, loyal Jewish Republicans in American history.

And, as of now, it looks like they are poised to say it right back.