GOP senators introduce bill forcing president’s hand on moving embassy to Jerusalem


Three Republican senators have introduced a bill that would force the president to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Dean Heller of Nevada and Ted Cruz of Texas would remove the presidential waiver from the 1995 law passed by Congress recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and mandating the move from Tel Aviv.

Successive presidents have exercised the waiver every six months, most recently President Barack Obama in December. They cite national security reasons over concerns that a move would lead to Islamist and Arab nationalist attacks on Americans and their allies in the region.

The bill would slash in half the funds that Congress disburses to the State Department for building, securing and maintaining embassies until the embassy opens in Jerusalem.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, but his transition team said declaring a timeline for a move would be inappropriate until Trump becomes president on Jan. 20.

Rubio and Cruz lost to Trump in the Republican presidential primaries.

Please keep calling us racists and misogynists


Turns out that the whole Democratic Party lost hugely on Election Day. In addition to losing the presidency, Republicans retained control of the Senate despite far more Republican Senate seats being on the ballot; they held their already substantial majority in the House of Representatives; and now 33 of the nation’s 50 governors are Republican. 

That’s two Republican governors for every Democrat.

One of the newly elected governors is Eric Greitens of Missouri. He is a former Navy SEAL and Rhodes scholar — and a committed Jew. Will he, too, be labeled a Republican racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, Islamophobe, bigot and the latest — transphobe?

That’s what the left has done for a half-century: libel and label conservatives. 

This past week was a prime example. Within hours of the Republican defeat of Democrats on the local, state and congressional levels, in addition to the loss of the White House, the left doubled down on its usual outpouring of calumnies at Republican voters as deplorable human beings.

Please continue. It is clearly working on conservatives’ behalf. More and more Americans — and I predict more and more Black and female Americans — will see these smears for what they are: a cover for an inability to intellectually counter conservative arguments.

It seems universally believed on the left that conservative opposition to Hillary Clinton was due to her being a woman. See Peter Beinart’s piece in The Atlantic titled “Fear of a Female President,” which says, “Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has provoked a wave of misogyny — one that may roil American life for years to come.” 

See the open letter written by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank to his distraught 12-year-old daughter: “To my daughter: You are going to be okay.”

This is how his column begins:

“As I watched the returns at Donald Trump’s celebration here Tuesday night, the hardest part was trying to reassure my seventh-grade daughter at home, via phone and text, that she would be okay. She had expected to be celebrating the election of the first female president, but instead, this man she had been reading and hearing horrible things about had won, and she feared her own world could come apart.”

As a loving father, he might want to reflect on whether his own overwrought views contributed to his daughter’s fearing that “her own world would come apart” if a woman weren’t elected president.

Milbank made sure to inform his readers that he was a Jew by reassuring his daughter that she will feel better when she receives all of her family’s love at her upcoming bat mitzvah.

Of course, the reduction of Republican votes to misogyny, racism, xenophobia, etc., was hardly unique to Jewish leftists. In The Washington Post on the day after the election, Jill Filipovic, a young feminist writer, explained Hillary Clinton’s loss this way: 

“[It was] a clear statement of what so many of my countrymen (and the people who put Trump in power are mostly men) value: white male supremacy above all.”

And in The New York Times, Susan Chira, a senior correspondent and editor on gender issues, made up a rule: “We do know that voters disproportionately punish women who are seen as dishonest.”

For eight years, many on the left have described criticism of Barack Obama as racist. Similarly, leftists explain opposition to Hillary Clinton as an expression of misogyny and sexism. For the left, it is not possible that conservative opposition to either has been rooted in public policy and moral differences that have nothing to do with race or gender.

Then there is another hysterical charge on the Jewish left, that a President Trump will make anti-Semitism respectable. This, too, is old news. In 1980, Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., said, “I am scared that if Ronald Reagan gets into office, we are going to see more of the Ku Klux Klan and a resurgence of the Nazi Party.”

But the scare tactics apparently aren’t working as well as they once did. More and more Americans are catching on to the left’s crying wolf regarding racism, misogyny, sexism and all the other terms of opprobrium hurled at conservatives.

But leftists won’t stop, for two reasons: That’s all they have. And because they really do believe their libels about conservatives. Why wouldn’t they? It’s all they’ve ever read, heard or studied.

Incredibly, many Jews symbolically sat shivah at their synagogues last week. But for all the harm the left has done to universities, to Judaism, Jews, Israel, America and to Western civilization, they should have done teshuvah instead. 


Dennis Pragers nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

Frustrated with Trump, Sheldon Adelson said to focus on Senate


Jewish philanthropist and top Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s reported impatience with Donald Trump is reflected in the emphasis Adelson is placing on the battle for control of the Senate, CNN reported.

Adelson has given at least $40 million to super PACs focused solely on the fight for Congress, while the $10 million he dedicated to a pro-Trump super PAC is only advertising in states with competitive Senate races.

CNN and other outlets, citing unnamed figures close to Adelson, reported that Adelson — who has contributed up to $25 million to the Republican nominee’s presidential bid — regrets Trump’s “lack of focus” and misdirected attacks at fellow Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan as missed opportunities.

“Sheldon’s got to protect the House and the Senate, and Trump’s going after [fellow Republicans] isn’t helpful,” a source told CNN. “He’s really upset with the way Trump’s been running his campaign.”

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were also reported to have attended a lunch with Trump and his family and other Trump allies prior to Wednesday’s presidential debate in Las Vegas. Fox Business reported that day, citing an unnamed “associate” of Adelson, that the donor sent an email to Trump urging him to stop attacking fellow Republicans and launching “counter-productive attacks” on the media.

The third and final debate came after a week in which Trump fended off charges by more than 10 women that he had initiated inappropriate contact with them in years past, and in which various Republican elected officials further distanced themselves from the candidate. Trump’s performance at the third debate was largely seen as a disappointment by Republicans and appeared to do little to improve his position behind Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in most polls.

Trump vs. Clinton, Round 2: Iran, Syria, dog whistles and deplorables


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not shake hands, and then they did. The Republican nominee called his rival the devil and said he would jail her. Clinton said that three minutes of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about committing what constitutes sexual assault “represents exactly who he is.” He said it was “locker room talk” and – pressed hard by a moderator – said he did not commit the acts that he claimed in the video.

Those “highlights” from the debate are strewn throughout social media and are making headlines on Monday morning.

But sown throughout Sunday evening’s presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, already dubbed the most intensely negative in modern history, were notes of substance and tone. Jewish and pro-Israel readers may want to heed a number of them.

Donald Trump mentioned Iran, often.

Trump slammed the Iran nuclear deal three times, emphatically, as had his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in his debate last week with the Democratic vice presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

The deal reached last year between Iran and six major powers led by the United States, which exchanges sanctions relief for rollbacks in the Iran nuclear program, has become the Trump campaign’s exhibit A in depicting the Obama administration as a foreign policy failure.

On Sunday night, Trump called it “the dumbest deal perhaps I’ve ever seen in the history of deal-making” and again said it converted Iran within three years from a weak nation to a powerful one.

It’s a notable transition: Throughout the Republican primaries, Trump said the agreement was a bad one, but was coy about whether he would rescind it, saying he would first consult experts once he was in office. It wasn’t a foreign policy priority like renegotiating trade deals or walling off Mexico.

Now the deal has become a front-and-center issue, and while Trump still is not specific on whether he would scrap the agreement altogether or attempt to renegotiate it, it is nearing the top of his to-do list.

Hillary Clinton mentioned Iran, in passing.

Clinton’s main foreign policy thrust was to remind viewers of Trump’s coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin and present herself as a tougher alternative. She mentioned the Iran deal as a means of showing that she is capable of cooperating with Russia, while confronting it as well.

“It’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot,” she said of her role as secretary of state in getting a reluctant Russia on board with the sanctions regime.

The Democrat’s notation was not the seven robust mentions her running mate gave the deal in last week’s debate. Kaine, who is close to J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group that backed the deal, was instrumental last year in shepherding the deal through Congress.

Clinton instead has emphasized her role in setting up the sanctions regime and has also sought to present herself as more of a hawk than President Barack Obama. The latest dump of hacked Clinton-related emails includes one from an adviser, Stuart Eizenstat, counseling just such a distancing on the Iran deal last year.

“Hillary cannot oppose the agreement given her position as the President’s Secretary of State and should urge its approval by Congress,” Eizenstat said in an email to Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan. “But she can and should point out concerns with it … More broadly, she should appear more muscular in her approach than the President’s.”

Did Trump just hand Syria to Iran?

Trump delivered a rambling and at times inchoate response when a moderator asked him what he would do to stop the carnage in Syria.

One clear takeaway: He does not want to confront the regime of Bashar Assad, which is principally responsible for the nearly 500,000 lives lost in the civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011. Instead, he said, the United States should solely be focused on hitting the Islamic State terrorist group. Trump said, as he has in the past, that Russia should be a partner in that enterprise. He also said he outright disagreed with Pence, his running mate, who last week said the United States should hit Assad’s military if Russia continues to slam civilians with airstrikes.

More alarmingly for Israel, Trump appeared to say that Syria is otherwise a lost cause and should be left to Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran.

“I think you have to knock out ISIS,” he said. “Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran.”

Israel sees few good outcomes in the Syrian war. One of the worst, though, is leaving Iran, its deadliest regional enemy, indefinitely in place on its northern border.

The Syria exchange provided a notable moment for Clinton as well. Not only did she robustly differentiate herself from Obama, counseling a no-fly zone and increasing arms and training for some rebels, the sole moment she interrupted Trump (he interrupted her 18 times, according to Vox) was when he charged that she was with Obama when he violated his “line in the sand” pledge to use the military to hit Assad should his regime use chemical weapons. Assad crossed that line and Obama blinked in 2013.

Clinton pointed out that she was no longer secretary of state in 2013.

“I was gone,” she said. “I hate to interrupt you, but at some point we needed to do some fact checking.”

Ears were perked up. Was Donald whistling?

Trump, whose mentor was Roy Cohn, a counsel to the Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, has exhibited a McCarthy-like penchant for guilt by association.

Many of the associations he cited Sunday evening were Jewish. Among them: Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s longtime friend, whom Trump (again) falsely blamed for having “started” the so-called birther rumor that Obama was born in Kenya — a rumor that Trump more than anyone else perpetuated (one mention); Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman forced out when hacked emails revealed her antipathy toward Clinton’s primaries rival, Bernie Sanders (two mentions); financier, philanthropist and Democratic Party donor George Soros, cited by Trump as, like him, a rich guy who takes advantage of tax loopholes (two mentions), and Goldman Sachs, the Jewish-founded bank that paid Clinton top dollar for her speeches (one mention).

Was Trump’s substantive following among anti-Semites within the alt-right paying attention? Jewish Twitter sure was and, like the notorious Star of David tweet and the Pepe the Frog meme, Trump may have been passing along names and themes that mean more to the alt-right than he is aware of or is willing to acknowledge.

On the other hand, Trump did not start the false rumor about Blumenthal and the Kenya birth; Wasserman Schultz was indeed DNC chairwoman, and her “victim,” in Trump’s narrative, Sanders, also is Jewish; Trump mentioned the non-Jewish billionaire Warren Buffett, another Clinton backer, when he brought up Soros, and while Goldman Sachs is only one of a number of banks that hosted Clinton, the most salient leaks in the recent batch of hacked emails were from her appearance at an event hosted by Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s CEO.

The moderators asked Clinton about her comment last month at a fundraiser that half of Trump’s followers were “deplorables” motivated by race hatred, among other factors. At the time the former New York senator almost immediately apologized for saying it was “half,” and now she appeared to say it was down to one, Trump.

“My argument is not with his supporters,” she said. “It’s with him and with the hateful and divisive campaign that he has run, and the inciting of violence at his rallies, and the very brutal kinds of comments about not just women, but all Americans, all kinds of Americans. And what he has said about African-Americans and Latinos, about Muslims, about POWs, about immigrants, about people with disabilities, he’s never apologized for.”

Trump countered that “she has tremendous hate in her heart.”

Did Trump miss the Jewy moment?

As long as we’re circling back to the juicy bits, there was one moment I predicted would take place – but it didn’t go down exactly the way I thought.

It was a town hall forum, where undecided voters were supposed to ask questions (they kind of got lost in the sniping among the candidates and the assertive questioning by the moderators). One who stood out was the final questioner, Karl Becker, who asked: “My question to both of you is, regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

I predicted this question and Clinton’s answer – past debates have featured similar questions, and usually the reply has to do with how one’s rival is a decent family man, if nothing else. Why would it be Jewy, this time? Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is Jewish; his son, Eric, is married to a Jewish woman, and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, is married to a Jewish man.

“I think that’s a very fair and important question,” Clinton said, going first. “Look, I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. And I think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me.”

Trump’s reply was that Clinton was a “fighter” who “doesn’t give up” (a little at odds with his multiple jabs about her “stamina”). But he appeared reluctant to accept Clinton’s reply as the compliment it was.

“I consider her statement about my children to be a very nice compliment,” he said. “I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment, but it is a great — I’m very proud of my children. And they’ve done a wonderful job, and they’ve been wonderful, wonderful kids. So I consider that a compliment.”

It was an odd reply: Clinton was not saying that his good children were an anomaly, or that they turned out well in spite of him. “That says a lot about Donald,” she said, presumably crediting his parenting. (Chelsea and Ivanka are good buddies, so Clinton presumably knows whereof she speaks.)

Donald, parenting is the hardest job there is. When someone says you’ve made a good go of it, just run with it.

Pence refuses to validate Clinton’s ‘deplorable’ label in denouncing David Duke


Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Tuesday reiterated his refusal to label former KKK leader David Duke as “deplorable” not to validate Hillary Clinton’s term used to attack Donald Trump’s supporters.

“Donald Trump and I have denounced David Duke repeatedly. We have said that we do not want his support and we do not want the support of people who think like him,” Pence said at a press conference following a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill. “The simple fact is that I am not in the name-calling business. My colleagues in the House of Representatives know that I believe that civility is essential in a vibrant democracy and it’s never been my practice.”

Pence came under fire for refusing to to use the term “deplorable” during an interview with CNN on Monday.

“There are some supporters of Donald Trump and Mike Pence who ― David Duke, for example, some other white nationalists ― who would fit into that category of deplorables. Right?” CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked, referring to Clinton’s emarks rover the weekend that half of Donald Trump supporters can be put into a “basket of deplorables.”

“Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly. We don’t want his support and we don’t want the support of people who think like him,” Pence replied. When pressed if he’d call Duke “deplorable,” Pence said, “No, I’m not in the name calling business.”

Following the interveiw, when contacted by a 

Trump earns endorsement of 88 retired military leaders


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump earned the endorsement of 88 retired U.S. generals and admirals on Tuesday, as the campaign enters into full swing. 

“Enemies of this country have been emboldened, sensing weakness and irresolution in Washington and opportunities for aggression at our expense and that of other freedom-loving nations,” the retired military leaders state in a letter released after Labor Day. “In our professional judgment, the combined effect is potentially extremely perilous. That is especially the case if our government persists in the practices that have brought us to this present pass. For this reason, we support Donald Trump and his commitment to rebuild our military, to secure our borders, to defeat our Islamic supremacist adversaries and restore law and order domestically.”

The letter was organized by Major General Sidney Shachnow, the only Holocaust survivor to become a U.S. General, and Rear Admiral Charles Williams. “He has the temperament to be commander-in-chief,” Shachnow stated.

Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, (US Army, Ret.), a Trump surrogate, noted that Trump’s deep and growing support in the military community show “he’s the right person to lead our men and women in uniform.”

“It is a great honor to have such amazing support from so many distinguished retired military leaders,” Trump said in a statement. “I thank each of them for their service and their confidence in me to serve as commander-in-chief. Keeping our nation safe and leading our armed forces is the most important responsibility of the presidency. Under my administration, we will end the weak foreign policy of the last eight years, rebuild our military, give our troops clear rules of engagement and take care of our veterans when they come home.”

Tuesday’s letter is a counterbalance to Hillary Clinton’s “>joint statement saying they will not vote the Republican presidential nominee in the November 8 election. “From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief,” they wrote in a letter. “Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

What turns many Jews away from Trump energizes his Jewish supporters


In August 2015, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) asked 1,030 American Jews to name their favored candidate in the following year’s presidential primaries. Hillary Clinton was the clear winner with 39.7 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders with 17.8 percent. Donald Trump came in third with 10.2 percent, more than any of the other nine Republicans named.

A majority of Jews will almost certainly line up behind the Democrat in the November election: The same AJC poll found 48.6 percent of American Jews identify as Democrats, compared with 19 percent who say they are Republicans.

But some of the same factors that have turned many voters off Trump — his unyielding stance on immigration and fondness for insult, for instance — are some of what’s driving another group of Jewish voters, even some in liberal Los Angeles, to support his candidacy.

“I like the idea that somebody fresh and new and a little bit vulgar is getting ahead,” said Culver City resident Leslie Fuhrer Friedman, who attends the Pacific Jewish Center on Venice Beach.

“Does he say uncouth things?” she said. “Of course. You know, he’s kind of like an Israeli in the Knesset. He’s a little rude.”

For all the offense many Jews have taken to the Republican’s musings, others have found a set of reasons, specifically Jewish ones, to support him — from his close relationship with his Orthodox son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to his disdain for an administration many feel has disrespected Israel.

And then there are some Republican Jews who see Trump’s candidacy as merely the lesser of two evils. 

Brian Goldenfeld, a Woodland Hills paralegal who contributes to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), said he’s disappointed with both candidates but doesn’t view Clinton as an acceptable option.

“I don’t think just because you’re conservative you have to support Trump,” he said. “But what other alternative do we have?”

For its part, the RJC has offered Trump its lukewarm support: When it became clear he would be the party’s nominee, the RJC released a statement congratulating him, but it has yet to endorse him. 

Yet there’s a sense, at least among the Jewish Trump supporters interviewed for this article, that his shoot-from-the-hip style allows him to speak political truths others avoid, especially on issues of foreign policy.

Clinton “has never admitted there is such a thing as Islamic terrorism,” said Phillip Springer, a World War II veteran who lives in Pacific Palisades.

Springer said he supports Trump because he sees him as the candidate most suited to protect the United States from terrorist attacks of the type that are increasingly common in Europe.

“He does not want New York to turn into Paris and Washington to turn into Brussels,” Springer said. “That will happen if the gates are opened to anybody that’s trying to get into this country.”

Among some of L.A.’s Iranian Jews,

Naked Trump statues draw dozens of onlookers in U.S. cities


An artists' collective took credit for exposing Donald Trump to unflattering scrutiny on Thursday, saying it was responsible for a life-sized nude statue of the Republican presidential candidate that turned up in a New York City park.

Copies of the orange-tinted likeness – featuring a massive belly, small fingers and missing some genital parts – were simultaneously unveiled in downtown Manhattan's Union Square Park and public places in four other U.S. cities.

The collective titled the work “The Emperor Has No Balls.”

In New York, the unauthorized installation appeared to surprise passers-by – prompting stares, giggles and shrugs of bemusement from park visitors.

Ina Cope, a 58-year-old retiree from the Bronx borough of New York, said she was not expecting to see the Trump statue when she got off the subway to meet a friend for lunch.

“It was crazy: I was coming off the train, minding my own business, and there it was,” she said, laughing.

By early afternoon, workers from New York's Department of Parks and Recreation had taken down the statue.

Mae Ferguson, a Parks Department spokeswoman, said the statue was removed because the installation of any unapproved structure is illegal in any city park.

The activist collective, a group called INDECLINE that includes artists, musicians and filmmakers, claimed ownership of the work, saying in an email that the statues were also placed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland. It said an artist called Ginger helped create the likeness.

“These fleeting installations represent this fleeting nightmare and in the fall, it is our wish to look back and laugh at Donald Trump's failed and delusional quest to obtain the presidency,” INDECLINE said in a statement.

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond immediately to an email with a request for comment.

Trump stirs controversy with remarks on gun rights


Republican Donald Trump suggested in a speech on Tuesday that gun rights activists could stop his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton from nominating liberal justices to the Supreme Court, stirring another round of backlash during a week his U.S. presidential campaign had hoped to steer clear of controversy.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump said at a rally at the University of North Carolina. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know,” he continued. The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear firearms.

Clinton's campaign called the comments “dangerous”.

“A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way,” it said. 

When asked to clarify what Trump meant, his campaign said in an emailed statement: “It's called the power of unification – 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power.”

Asked for comment, the U.S. Secret Service, which provides security details for both Trump and Clinton, said: “The Secret Service is aware of the comment.” 

Tuesday's speech comes on the heels of a discordant week on the campaign trail during whichTrump came under fire from within his party for belatedly endorsing fellow Republicans in reelection races and a prolonged clash with the parents of fallen Muslim American Army captain Humayun Khan.

On Monday, Trump had seemed to be heeding Republican advice to keep to a message of criticizing Clinton and other Democrats when he gave a put forward economic policy proposals in a speech in Detroit.

Gingrich: Trump has become ‘unacceptable’ choice for POTUS


Newt Gingrich, one of Donald Trump’s most stalwart surrogates and a finalist in the race for vice president, on Wednesday  “The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable,” Gingrich said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”

The former House Speaker warned Trump that he has little time left to reverse course. “Anybody who is horrified by Hillary should hope that Trump will take a deep breath and learn some new skills,” he said. “He cannot win the presidency operating the way he is now. She can’t be bad enough to elect him if he’s determined to make this many mistakes.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Gingrich characterized Trump’s response to criticism by the family of a fallen soldier and his dissing of Republican national leaders as “very self-destructive.”

“He has not made the transition to being the potential president of the United States, which is a much tougher league,” Gingrich said on Fox Business Channel’s “Mornings with Maria” program. ”People are going to watch you every single day. They’re going to take everything they can out of context, and he is not yet performing at the level that you need to.”

CNN  Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and RNC chairman Reince Priebus are apparently plotting an intervention with Trump to try to reset the campaign, NBC  Campaign chief Paul Manafort, appearing on Fox News, disputed the report. “The campaign is focused and the campaign is moving forward in a positive way,” he said. The only need we have for an intervention is maybe with some media types who keep saying things that aren’t true. The candidate is in control of his campaign. The turmoil — this is another Clinton narrative that’s been put out there and that the media is picking up on. The campaign is in very good shape. We are organized. We are moving forward.”

Trump “has become such a good counter puncher that he is about to knock himself out,” Ari Fleischer, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush and a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said on CNN’s Newsroom on Wednesday. “He has got to stop counter-punching people who are not running for president. He needs to focus on Hillary, and only Hillary. Now, he can throw in a little Barack Obama because Hillary would be Obama’s third term. He his hurting his own cause in a race that he can win. If he would focus on Hillary, if he’d focus on the economy, if he’d talk Obama and we don’t want a third term, he could win this race.”

Gone missing: Actual Democrats in Republican Jewish Coalition ad bashing Democrats


A couple of weeks ago, the Associated Press encountered a “handful” of out-and-proud white supremacists credentialed for the Republican convention.

The reporter asked Sean Spicer, the spokesman for the Republican National Committee, to explain. Here’s what he said, per the AP:

Convention organizers release credentials in large blocks to state delegations, special guests and media outlets. Officials have little control over where they end up, he said, noting that even protesters from the liberal group Code Pink managed to get into the convention hall.

“People get tickets through various means, including the media,” Spicer said. “In no way, shape or form would we ever sanction any group or individual that espoused those views.”

Right. Conventions are diffuse, borderline chaotic affairs. Saying the views and actions of a handful of folks are emblematic of the entire party would be fundamentally unfair, you’d think.

You’d think, but not so much the Republican Jewish Coalition, which in an online ad it released last week arguing that the Democratic Party has been taken over by anti-Israel forces advances a definition of Democrat so loose as to be meaningless.

Included in the ad as emblematic of “today’s Democratic Party,” as the narrator puts it, are a group of masked folks burning a flag outside the convention.

“While the Palestinian flag was displayed inside the Democratic convention, the Israeli flag was burned right outside,” the narrator says.

Unlike the white supremacists in Cleveland, the flag burners are not credentialed – they are outside the convention, protesting what’s going on inside. It’s like blaming Hubert Humphrey for Abbie Hoffman. Notably, nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign condemned the flag burning. (The Palestinian flag inside the arena was unveiled for a brief moment and appeared to be the work of a handful of people.)

The man and the woman who speak in the ad condemning U.S. support for Israel are not credentialed, and appear outdoors – not inside the arena.

“Anti-Israel Democrats are all around Philadelphia,” the narrator says, without explaining how we know that the speakers are Democrats (there were plenty of Greens in Philadelphia).

The ad also implies that the very presence in the city of anti-Israel protesters indicts the entire party. In addition to the white supremacists in Cleveland, there were – as Spicer noted – Code Pink protesters inside and outside the arena. Does that render the Republican Party an amalgam of the Ku Klux Klan and the Yippies?

The RJC ad is on more solid ground in quoting Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who, addressing pro-Palestinian groups, likened settlement activity to the destruction wrought by termites.

Johnson issued a non-apology, and his defenders have said he was referring to the “settlement enterprise” and not settlers, although that is not clear from his remarks: “There has been a steady, almost like termites can get into a residence and eat it up before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself, there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity.”

In any case, the distinction between likening humans to insects and likening human activity to insect activity does not exactly lessen the offense.

Johnson, however, spoke off-campus, at an event sponsored b the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the American Friends Service Committee, not the DNC. Every mention of Israel from the convention stage was positive, including the one in Clinton’s acceptance speech. (You wouldn’t know this from Clinton’s only appearance in the ad, at its end, with a shot of her smirking.)

Still, trends we observed reporting the conventions suggested differences between the parties.

There were plenty of “I support Palestinian human rights” stickers and banners at the Democratic convention. Mentions of Israel at both convention stages were positive, but at the GOP convention, they were more frequent and more robust. Both parties had pro-Israel platforms, but the Republican language was approved unanimously, while there was a debate among Democrats over whether to refer critically to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. (The proposal was rejected.)

An ad mentioning those actual facts, and others, would have made a strong case that the Republican Party unambiguously supports Israel’s current government, while Democrats have a more contentious relationship with it. The RJC ad, relying on hyperbole and distortions, doesn’t make that case.

Uneasy Republicans and confident Democrats diverge on ‘Jewish’ issues


It’s never been easy for Jewish Republicans. Jews have broken overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates since Woodrow Wilson. Despite rising American Jewish affluence, usually a harbinger of conservative voting patterns, a plurality self-defines as liberal.

Republican Jews have poured millions into upping their share of the Jewish vote in recent elections, portraying the GOP as the pro-Israel party and telling largely affluent Jewish Americans to vote their economic self-interest. The needle has only moved a little, despite those efforts: 80 percent of Jews voted Clinton in 1992, 79 percent voted Gore in 2000 and 74 percent voted Obama in 2008.

Organizations like the Republican Jewish Coalition have kept pushing despite it all. Most Jews don’t vote primarily based on Israel, but as Democrats passed a controversial Iran deal and condemned Israel’s West Bank occupation, Republicans saw a window of opportunity.

Republicans doubled down on the Israel case at their national convention in Cleveland last month. Donald Trump, Mike Pence and a handful of other speakers included lines in support of Israel in their speeches and drew loud applause. President Barack Obama’s support of Iran’s nuclear program, anathema to the Israeli government, was a nightly punching bag.

Dozens of delegates told JTA that the main reason Jews should vote Trump is that he’s better on Israel than his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The Republican platform swung right on Israel, eliminating the long-held bipartisan consensus supporting the two-state solution, and rejecting the United States’ right to dictate terms on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Even so, Republican Jewish uneasiness showed at the convention. Big-name Jewish donors declined to attend. Republican Jews, from journalists Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin to former Republican operatives like Noam Neusner and David Frum, oppose Trump. The Republican Jewish Coalition held no events that were open to the media, a departure from previous conventions.

Much of this ambivalence has to do with Trump’s string of statements insulting minorities — Jews among them. It’s a point Democrats stressed every day of their confab a week later in Philadelphia. A video aired on the first night of the their convention featuring Trump’s retweet of an image widely called anti-Semitic. The convention’s explicit message was that anyone who cares about safeguarding minority rights has to vote Clinton.

The first night of the Democratic National Convention featured a string of Jewish public figures — Sarah Silverman and Sen. Al Franken among them — and it ended with a keynote speech by Bernie Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win a major party primary. Jewish entertainers, activists and politicians peppered every night’s roster, from singer Paul Simon to Senator Barbara Boxer.

Criticism of Israel was a recurring feature in Philadelphia, a point the RJC pressed in an ad released last week calling the party “stridently anti-Israel.” Many Sanders supporters wore pro-Palestinian stickers, and a few advocated changing the United States’ historically pro-Israel policy. On Wednesday, a night devoted largely to national security, no one mentioned the U.S. alliance with Israel. There was full-throated support for the Iran deal throughout the convention. At one point, protesters outside the convention burned an Israeli flag. At a roundtable discussion held outside the convention by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the American Friends Service Committee, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson compared Israel’s West Bank settlement movement to termites.

But in the end, the party could point to the ways it shored up its traditional pro-Israel wing. The Democratic platform committee rejected an effort to even mention settlements and occupation in its section on Israel. Like Trump, Clinton threw a shout-out to Israel’s security into her acceptance speech, and didn’t mention Palestinians. Gen. John Allen, the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, gave a convention speech in support of Clinton  that echoed neoconservative rhetoric, which tends to be forcefully pro-Israel. Even Bill Clinton got into the act, sporting a Hebrew “Hillary” button during Obama’s Wednesday night speech.

It could be that, in future election cycles, discord over Israel will drive more Jews to the Republican party. Part of Sanders’ dissent from Democratic orthodoxy was in his call for more criticism of Israel. In her acceptance speech, Clinton adopted much of his domestic rhetoric but none of his Middle East policies. But if Sanders delegates become the new Democratic mainstream, the party could gravitate away from its pro-Israel stance.

At Jewish Democratic events, though, the old guard held sway. If anything, the Democratic Jews’ biggest problem came from one of their own, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was ousted as chair of the Democratic National Committee at the convention’s start. Wasserman Schultz was the favorite daughter of Jewish Dems, a former National Jewish Democratic Council staffer who rose to be a congresswoman and party bigwig. Now, she’s facing a primary challenge and could exit political life.

Even as she was embattled, the NJDC stood with her, presenting her with an award on the convention’s final afternoon. Wasserman Schultz sounded defiant at the event, calling Trump a traitor and promising to win her primary. And despite her fall from grace, Jewish Democrats cheered her, as if to say that whatever the future held, they felt good about this year.

Bloomberg unleashes on Trump, calls him ‘risky choice’


Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg unleashed a string of attacks at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling his a “dangerous demagogue” and “a risky, reckless, and radical choice’ in the November election. 

“There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country,” Bloomberg said in a primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday. “And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue. I believe it’s the duty of all American citizens to make our voices heard by voting in this election. And, if you’re not yet registered to vote, go online and do it now! It’s just too important to sit out.”

Using a term once used by Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary, Bloomberg pointed to Trump’s past in the businesses sector to warn the American people of promises made by a con artist. “I’m a New Yorker. And New Yorkers know a con when we see one,” said Bloomberg. “Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.” 

“I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump’s business plan is a disaster in the making,” he asserted. “He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe. The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can’t afford to make that choice.” 

Bloomberg went on to make the case for Hillary Clinton. “I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless. No candidate is. But she is the right choice – and the responsible choice – in this election,” the former Republican mayor stressed. “No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television. This is reality.”

Former Hawaii governor: Unlike Democrats, GOP united on Israel


On the first day of the Republican convention in Cleveland, with fewer traditional Republican Jews “>unanimously approved by the party’s platform committee last week, as proof that the Republican Party is the home for Jewish voters in the November election.

American Jews, the former Hawaii Governor stressed, in five of the last six presidential elections have supported the Republican candidate by increasing numbers. “The support for Republican presidential candidates by American Jews have tripled over the past twenty-five years,” she said.

Though she urged Republicans to support the Republican ticket, Lingle made no mention of Trump’s stance on Israel. Instead, she blasted President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. “Clinton and Obama have treated our allies as strangers, insulted their leaders, and ignored their advice and interests,” said Lingle.

Republican-led panel accuses Clinton State Department of Benghazi lapses


Congressional Republicans on Tuesday accused the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of failing to protect U.S. diplomats in the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attack that killed four Americans.

In an 800-page report that Democrats have derided as a political vendetta, Republicans also accused Clinton, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and her staff of a “shameful” lack of response to congressional investigators looking into the tragedy and assailed Clinton's use of a private email server for official business.

The findings are sure to fuel attacks on Clinton on the presidential campaign trail, where she faces the Republicans' presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, but they do not reveal any new substantial evidence of Clinton's culpability with regard to the attack.

Clinton's campaign dismissed the report as a partisan effort to derail her candidacy, arguing that the committee had not found anything that had not been discovered by previous congressional probes.

“After more than two years and more than $7 million in taxpayer funds, the committee report has not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement, adding that “this committee's chief goal is to politicize the deaths of four brave Americans in order to try to attack the Obama administration and hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.”

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the special panel, outlined what he said was a disconnect between the unfolding violence on the ground in Benghazi and the perception among top Obama administration officials that “the fighting had subsided” at the U.S. diplomatic compound.

Gowdy said the panel uncovered “new information on what happened in Benghazi,” including details contained in emails from then-Secretary Clinton that were handed over to the committee.

RYAN STATEMENT

Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, did not mention Clinton by name in a statement he released but said committee's report “makes clear that officials in Washington failed our men and women on the ground when they were in need of help.”

The lack of a mention of Clinton may have been aimed at rebutting Democrats' claims that the probe was politically driven. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, Ryan's lieutenant, last year suggested that the panel was established, in part, to stall Clinton's political momentum.

Trump has regularly blamed Clinton for the death of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three others in attacks in Benghazi by militia groups on Sept. 11, 2012, and said the incident undercuts her argument that she is the stronger candidate on national security.

Trump's campaign had no immediate comment, but Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Clinton's actions as secretary of state were “disqualifying.”

“Hillary Clinton was in charge, knew the risks, and did nothing” to protect personnel on the ground in Libya, he said.

Democrats on the Benghazi committee released their own report a day before Tuesday's release, accusing Republicans of conducting an overzealous investigation.

According to a website maintained by committee Democrats, the investigation cost more than $7.1 million, a figure that excludes money spent on investigations by the seven other congressional committees that investigated the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA posts in Benghazi.

The Gowdy committee investigation lasted 782 days, longer than congressional probes of Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, the Iran-Contra scandal and Hurricane Katrina.

Since it was established in May 2014, the Gowdy committee held four public hearings, according to its website, which said that it interviewed 107 witnesses, mostly behind closed doors, including 81 who never appeared before the other committees that investigated the attacks. It reviewed about 75,000 pages of previously unexamined documents.

Republicans must dump Trump


It’s bad enough when a narcissist is so full of himself that even a defeat can’t humble him. Win or lose, he’s always right. Imagine, then, what happens when an extreme narcissist starts to win, and wins big. All narcissism breaks loose. He goes from being drunk on his greatness to being totally plastered.

This is what is happening to Donald Trump.

He has passed the drunken phase. His stunning victories in the Republican primaries, his endless media exposure and his raucous rallies have become like cocaine-heroin speedballs to the part of his brain that triggers his ego. Blinded by self-love, he has doubled down on his offensiveness and recklessness. 

His critics inside the Republican party say, “What did you expect? This is who Trump is.” But I think it’s worse than that.

What we’re seeing now is Trump becoming more and more Trumpish, a man so hypnotized by his own success that he can’t see himself unraveling (with a 70 percent disapproval rating). He can hire and fire advisers, but it won’t help, because he can’t help himself.

If Trump pulls off a miracle and wins the White House, we will have an unhinged leader of the free world, intoxicated by his greatness, prone to even more recklessness. 

 But even if he loses, which is more likely, we will still have to brave another few months of Trumpian bile. Come November, there won’t be anyone left to offend. We will all need a National Detox Day.

Among the many fallouts of this cringe-inducing year is how Trump’s crassness has overshadowed some genuine grievances among his working-class voters. Many of them feel, rightfully, that the economic recovery has left them behind and the Washington establishment has ignored them.

Some Trump voters also are tired of seeing their country getting ripped off, whether by a badly run war in Iraq that squandered $3 trillion, a badly negotiated nuclear deal that empowered a terror-sponsoring Iran, or unfair trade agreements that have cost American jobs.

The great GOP tragedy of 2016 is that it was a vulgar and divisive circus clown who figured out how to tap into many of those grievances.

In the beginning, many of us saw the Trump phenomenon as a harmless and amusing sideshow. Now, we see it is contaminating a party — and a nation.

That’s why Republicans must do everything they can to dump the Trumpster.

This is no longer about partisan politics; it’s about defending the honor of our country. As Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said recently, “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

With their convention only a month away, for Republicans that time is now. Trump’s beyond-the-pale behavior justifies looking for every possible angle in the playbook to allow delegates to nominate another candidate.

Yes, it’ll be messy, but as John Fund writes in National Review Online, there are expert opinions in support of freeing up the delegates:

“Curly Haugland, a member of both the Republican National Committee and the convention’s Rules Committee, has co-authored with Sean Parnell a persuasive mini-book, ‘Unbound: The Conscience of a Republican Delegate,’ to make the case that delegates to the GOP convention are free to vote their conscience.”

Denying Trump the nomination is a long shot, to be sure. Love him or hate him, the man has earned his delegates. Still, this is one of those torturous moments when one imperative overrides another. If there is a legitimate way to replace Trump with another candidate, it must be tried. 

Republican leaders must say to America, “We have decided that Donald Trump is so far out of line that we can’t in good conscience support him. Even if we have to bear the wrath of his supporters, divide our party and forfeit the election, we will encourage delegates to go in another direction.” 

Politicians and operatives inside the GOP who have mocked and criticized Trump but are nevertheless supporting him are simply proving his point about the cronyism of the political class. The only way they can salvage their integrity is to throw themselves at the mercy of principle and work to replace him.

This would be good not only for America — in the long run, it also would be good for the Republican Party.

“There will always be other Trumps until Republicans decide to make defeating Trumpism a cause, even if that means short-term losses,” former Democratic speechwriter Jon Favreau writes on The Ringer website. “If the party does not become more welcoming and inclusive, young people and other voters will tune it out.”

Donald Trump is too narcissistic to learn from his experience, either in victory or in failure. The Republican Party cannot afford to become like him.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Terror and the election: What does it mean?


In an election year that has already passed the abnormal and entered the zone of the surreal, the June 12 terror attack in Orlando, Fla., throws even more uncertainty into the mix. What does it mean for the election? Can we say anything with confidence in a season that has turned predictions upside down?

Presidential elections normally feature a battle between two competing visions of government’s role — one more liberal, the other more conservative. This year is different. This interruption in our political life is because of the rise of Trumpism, a phenomenon more similar to radical right-wing parties in European democracies than to any in the United States. It once seemed inconceivable that the leader of such a movement (without even an actual party behind him) could win the nomination of one of America’s two leading political parties. But here we are. And in the wake of a major terror attack that took 49 innocent lives at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the dynamic of the election may shift yet again. The September 11, 2001, attacks, only eight months into President George W. Bush’s first term, pretty much guaranteed his re-election in 2004. Will terror do the same for Donald Trump’s prospects?

Organizationally, a normal campaign season features two massive party organizations, get-out-the-vote drives, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. One party’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, will have those assets. Trump is going in a completely different direction. Either because he does not have access to raising big money, or is not as wealthy as he claims, Trump seems on the verge of trying to run without an Electoral College state-by-state strategy, nor a voter database, nor money for grass-roots operations, but rather with a message delivered in a combination of rallies, the occasional formal speech and many tweets. It’s an experiment without precedent. (As a side note, Trump is continuing to pursue his business life, including taking off for Scotland at the end of the month to mark the opening of one of his golf courses.) 

The Democrats are largely united in their fear and loathing of Trump. Republican leaders and many Republican voters, as well, are being torn into pieces over what they should do about this takeover of their party by someone both so appealing to their electoral base but potentially horrifying to the rest of the electorate and also to many of them.

Trump’s campaign may very well turn all of traditional U.S. politics in its head, and continue providing his own sort of late-night running commentary on the news of the day and the failings of our political leaders in both parties, mixing sarcasm and rage. Most campaigns are a mixture of message, organization and money. What if Trump’s campaign ends up being just pure message? That kind of campaign he could do part time, in the hope that his message conquers all. It would explain his avoiding “battleground states” and instead focusing on big media markets such as California and New York. Being all message with no campaign machinery enables him to respond instantaneously to changing events like the recent terror attack.

For Republican leaders, however, especially those currently in tough re-election races, Trump’s method is a high-wire act, because it leaves little campaign money or effort flowing from the presidential race to down-ballot contests. And who knows what Trump will say or do on any given day? So Republican Party leaders are holding on for a wild ride, balancing their endorsements of Trump with reservations and criticisms, or in some cases trying to painfully differentiate between “support” and “endorse” — two words that mean pretty much the same thing (see Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire).


If a climate of fear and chaos were to emerge over the next five months, it could tilt the electorate toward Trump.

Can Trump win the presidency? Never underestimate the power of a message crisply and engagingly delivered. It can move electoral mountains. Crisis and chaos are the best arguments for Trump and his chaotic and crisis-ridden campaign. He wins only if chaotic times speak so loudly that they override all the normal cautions that voters apply in this most important of job interviews. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the normal vetting and evaluation processes are too cumbersome to save us.  

And that brings us back to the horrifying shooting in Orlando. Events have a way of reframing and reconceptualizing what political candidates and leaders say, and we may then see them in a new light. Trump certainly thinks so; he immediately sent out two tweets, congratulating himself on his prescience and calling for President Barack Obama’s resignation for not referencing “radical Islam” in his speech in the immediate aftermath of the attack. At this moment, Trump’s Republican “frenemies” are frozen in place, not sure whether or not his words will strengthen him.  Here’s a further complication: The victims were LGBT. There is evidence that the killer was driven as much by homophobia as by his proclaimed allegiance to ISIS. How will Trump and the Republicans deal with the fact that men kissing may have helped drive him to homicide?

If a climate of fear and chaos were to emerge over the next five months, it could tilt the electorate toward Trump. Israelis have certainly turned rightward in recent years, although the differences between the two countries and their voters are instructive. For decades, Israel has faced an existential threat from its neighbors. Little by little, the progressive wing lost its support, and Israelis have moved right, not as a result of an individual terrorist attack, but because of a much wider and continuing assault on the nation’s very survival. Even the most horrific terror attacks, like 9/11 and the one in Orlando, have not placed the United States as a whole in jeopardy of its very survival.  

Reducing or preventing a sense of chaos and fear will be critical to Democrats’ success against Trump.  That’s why the violent protests against Trump, which have even included physical attacks on Trump supporters, are supremely self-destructive. The only defense against demagoguery is democracy itself, which requires faith that arguments can be won without violence. 

Obama has his own challenges. After the San Bernardino shootings, he wanted to show that his policy against ISIS was working, and thereby missed an opportunity to explain to the American people how defeating ISIS’ strategy to acquire a physical kingdom had, in fact, caused it to undertake terror worldwide. The current attack by an avowed ISIS believer offers the president another chance to be the explainer in chief. We want to understand what we can expect to face, and why, and what the government is going to do about it. The president can be the most reliable source of information, given his access to intelligence and military advice, and when he shares what can be made public, it provides some reassurance. 

It was striking that Hillary Clinton, in her response to Orlando, slightly distanced herself from the president by openly referring to “radical Islamic terrorism.”  Long sought by conservatives, this terminology sends a subtle signal that she will carve some of her own territory. This degree of separation may help her with foreign policy experts who have expressed skepticism about Trump and had their own reservations about Obama’s foreign policy.

For Trump, the fear engendered by the attack provides a fresh opportunity to reach voters with his message. However, the close attention to terrorism that an attack engenders could just as easily show him in the worst possible light. His one-man show of tweets and off-hand comments runs the risk of revealing even more of his limitations in the glare of the public eye. In this case, his veiled suggestion that Obama is in league with terrorists contrasts starkly with the images of the president’s news conference, his consultations with leaders and with Clinton’s comments.

Were he a more “normal” challenging candidate, Trump would have had respected military and intelligence advisers at his side to bolster his comments. He has already alienated many of the foreign policy intellectuals in his party who might have come to his defense. By his own choosing, he is on his own on a matter that benefits from the best and widest advice. He may not be ready for prime time.


Raphael J. Sonenshein is the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.

Republican House Speaker Ryan backs Trump after long courtship


Paul Ryan, the top elected Republican, ended a long period of soul-searching and endorsed Donald Trump for president on Thursday, a step toward unifying party loyalists behind the insurgent candidate despite concerns about his candidacy.

Ryan had been a high-profile holdout to supporting Trump for the Nov. 8 presidential election out of concern about the presumptive Republican nominee's bellicose rhetoric and break with party orthodoxy on issues including trade and immigration.

The House of Representatives speaker announced his support in a column for the Janesville Gazette newspaper in his home state of Wisconsin. It surfaced in the middle of a speech by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in which she launched a far-reaching attack on Trump's foreign policy credentials.

Ryan did not specifically use the word “endorse” in his column, but his spokesman, Brendan Buck, made clear that Ryan's move should be seen as an endorsement.

The speaker had criticized the Republican candidate several times, including Trump's proposal in December to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States because of national security concerns.

The 46-year-old Ryan was the only member of the Republican congressional leadership who had not formally embraced Trump.

In a tweet, Trump responded: “So great to have the endorsement and support of Paul Ryan. We will both be working very hard to Make America Great Again!”

Ryan's backing of Trump could give cover to more reluctant Republicans to get behind the billionaire businessman as their best chance to win the White House.

“I think the endorsement is significant because it shows the falling in line of the establishment Republicans from the top,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean.

It should also help Trump make the case that he can bring the party together as he girds for a Republican nominating convention in July that many party leaders plan to skip.

It also represents a blow to Republicans who have been trying to organize a third-party bid to give party loyalists who cannot abide Trump someone else to support. The “never Trump” crowd includes 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. Ryan was Romney's vice presidential running mate.

While Ryan's decision could push some Republican leaders off the fence, many holdouts remained, such as two former rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Aides to both said their positions had not changed.

Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid described Ryan's move as “abject surrender,” adding: “The GOP is Trump's party now.”

'HEAL THE FISSURES'

Ryan met Trump in a high-profile meeting last month and they have since had a number of telephone calls.

“It's no secret that he and I have our differences. I won't pretend otherwise,” Ryan wrote. “And when I feel the need to, I'll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”

Ryan said he and Trump had spoken many times in recent weeks about how, “by focusing on issues that unite Republicans, we can work together to heal the fissures developed through the primary.”

“Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people's lives. That's why I'll be voting for him this fall,” Ryan said.

Announcing he will vote for Trump should make it a bit more comfortable for Ryan to chair the party's nominating convention in Cleveland.

While Ryan's endorsement was significant for Trump, there remain many concerns about him within the party.

Longtime Republican financier Fred Malek drew attention to worries about Trump in a column in the Washington Post on Thursday. He cited Trump's criticism last week of New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, considered a rising star in the party with the ability to appeal to Hispanics.

“These attacks on fellow Republicans must stop as we move closer to the general election,” Malek wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, who has said he will support Trump, told CNN that Trump's proposed Muslim ban was a bad idea and that his criticism of Martinez was ill-advised.

Ryan said he too still had concerns about Trump's tone.

“It is my hope the campaign improves its tone as we go forward and it's all a campaign we can be proud of,” Ryan told the Associated Press.

Melania Trump: Ioffe ‘provoked’ anti-Semitic abuse


Melania Trump, the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, on Tuesday suggested that journalist Julia Ioffe “provoked” the anti-Semitic abuse she faced from Trump fans after publishing negative profile about her.

“I don’t control my fans,” Melania said “>received calls from people playing Hitler speeches, told that she “should be burned in an oven”, “be shot in the head,” and was sent photoshopped images of her in a concentration camp uniform.

In a statement released 

Reality ‘Trumps’ preference for much of Republican Jewish Coalition


Joel Geiderman’s view of a potential Donald Trump presidency has shifted since March.

Two months ago, in an op-ed in these pages, Geiderman — the California chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and co-chair of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Emergency Department — wrote, “I would Dump Trump. If it came down to the choice between Hillary Clinton (another terribly flawed candidate) and him, I would either not vote at all or support a third-party conservative candidate, if that were an option.”

But last week, in an email to the Jewish Journal, Geiderman wrote that he was “encouraged but not yet convinced” by developments since March. Geiderman said Trump has “moderated his speech,” “made peace with some of the people he offended” and acted more “presidential.”

And Clinton, he said, has “moved further to the left, from offering free college for all, single-payer health care, to attacking Wall Street and banks.” 

“To be honest, for me, the balance has been tilted,” Geiderman said, and without saying outright that he plans to vote for Trump in November, he indicated he’s in a place similar to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican said early this month that he’s “just not ready” to endorse Trump, but has since met with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and wants the “party unified so that we are full strength in the fall.”

Is Geiderman’s movement in the past nine weeks representative of a shift among conservatives once-steadfast members of the #NeverTrump crowd? Or are most Republicans, regardless of who they supported in the primaries, already rallying behind their party’s presumptive nominee simply because, well, he’s not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?

“As this race materializes, and as we move through this process, and you really get people focused on a binary choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I think you’ll see a lot of the folks who have heretofore been critical coming around,” Matt Brooks, executive director of the RJC, said in an interview.

After Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended his campaign on May 4 — one day after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his — the RJC released a statement congratulating Trump, but that was not so much an endorsement of him as it was a comment on the prospects of a Clinton presidency, which the RJC said would “compromise our national security, weaken our economy and further strain our relationship with our greatest ally, Israel.”

In December, Trump generated controversy when he spoke at an RJC forum in Washington, D.C., comparing the many businesspeople in the room to him, specifically in regards to negotiation skills. “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?” Trump said, evoking what critics said was a classical Jewish stereotype. “This room negotiates them, perhaps more than any other room I’ve ever spoken in.” 

He also said, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians. That’s fine.”

RJC spokesman Mark McNulty rejected criticisms that Trump’s comments were anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League, which has been highly critical of some of Trump’s comments during his campaign, also did not believe his remarks to the RJC were anti-Semitic.

In February, Trump was strongly criticized by many Israel supporters when he said he would try to be “neutral” between the Israelis and Palestinians. But the presumed Republican nominee has since taken a decidedly pro-Israel tack, particularly during his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference in March, which many Jewish Republicans were pleased with.

“His speech at AIPAC was terrific,” Geiderman said. “He would probably be very good for Israel. The person I have concerns about is Mrs. Clinton.” Geiderman specifically criticized the former secretary of state’s support for President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and “her attempt to punish Israel for extending some settlements contiguous to existing settlements.”

For some, like Florida businessman and RJC board member Marc Goldman, however, support for Trump is stronger than just party default. “There’s more reasons to vote for Trump than he’s just not a Democrat. He’s not out of the government,” said Goldman, who initially supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “Anyone who’s been in business knows … whatever the product, service or what have you that you’re providing, if you’re not providing it in a way that is satisfactory to your customers, and profitable, then the inherent discipline is: You go out of business — so you’re living in reality.”

“I think he has a chance to be very good, and I think people are ready for someone who’s going to come in and break up some of that status quo,” said Dr. Richard Roberts, a prominent Republican donor in New Jersey, who also initially backed Walker. “Trump is now reaching out to experts in a lot of different areas, and that’s a big relief to know that he’s doing that.”

In mid-March, Roberts told Jewish Insider he was “dismayed” by a conference call he was invited to with top Republican donors in advance of the Florida primary. The group — which included Hewlett Packard President and CEO Meg Whitman, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, and hedge fund manager and RJC board member Paul Singer — was coordinating an anti-Trump effort, which Roberts characterized as a “disingenuous” attempt to “deny the groundswell of grass-roots voters their overwhelming choice.”

The RJC’s May 4 statement also focused on maintaining Republican majorities in the House and Senate, which most conservatives, #NeverTrump ones included, believe is important whether or not Trump is on the top of the ticket.

“We will support the nominee of the Republican Party,” said Ronald Krongold, a Florida real estate developer who initially supported the candidacy of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Asked whether the RJC will put its focus on Senate and House races more than it did previous election cycles, he said, “I believe it will be the same as it is in any presidential year.”

Brooks declined to answer the same question, saying he doesn’t “want to telegraph to the Democrats our playbook.”

Singer, who supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, has said he will not back Trump or Clinton. Politico published a piece May 16 saying “plenty” of RJC board members, in addition to Singer, will not get involved in the presidential race and will instead focus on down-ballot races.

Geiderman, when asked whether he sees a #NeverTrump divide among Jewish Republicans, as there appears to be among conservative pundits, said, “There is no actual divide.”

In late April, at an RJC’s board meeting in Las Vegas, Geiderman said RJC members “expressed different opinions” and “engaged in thoughtful conversation.”

“But that was during the primaries,” he said. “In the end, I think most will work hard to elect the Republican candidate. It’s too important to hold onto the Supreme Court and the Senate.”

Geiderman, who is scheduled to be honored by the RJC on Sept. 25 at the Beverly Wilshire, said that after he penned his anti-Trump op-ed in March, he offered to step aside as honoree if his words would present a conflict. But he was encouraged to remain the honoree. “Republicans have a big tent and value a variety of opinions. No one retaliated against me or spoke out against me,” Geiderman said. 

“There is no party orthodoxy.”

Would President Donald Trump be good for Israel?


Here’s a question worth asking as Israel celebrates its 68th birthday: Would President Donald Trump be good for Israel?

If you listen to Trump, the answer is a resounding yes. He will be so pro-Israel, it will make your head spin. 

If you listen to his detractors, among whom are many leading Republican Jews, as Jewish Journal reporter Jared Sichel reports (see article on page 16), Trump would be a disaster.

The reason Trump gives for why he would be good for Israel is the same reason he gives for why he’ll be a great president, period: Because he says so.

To some, that confidence is hypnotic. It likely explains why, in an Israel Democracy Institute poll this week, fully 62 percent of Israeli Jews believe a President Trump would be committed to safeguarding Israel (though in a matchup with Hillary Clinton, 40 percent said Hillary would be better for Israel, versus 31 percent for Trump).

But American Jews on the right, center and left remain unconvinced by Trump’s endorsement of Trump’s excellence. Trump has no track record in diplomacy or government. For much of the campaign, he used the fact that he served as grand marshal of New York’s Israel Parade as his most serious bona fide. Seriously.

But now the man who, in Republican commentator David Frum’s words, is “second most likely to be the next president of the United States,” has to be taken very, very seriously. So perhaps the best way to answer the question of whether Trump would be good for Israel is to break it down into three specific questions that address what kind of president is needed for a successful American-Israeli relationship.

1. Does the president recognize Israel’s unique history and the special connection it has to the United States?

There’s no evidence in any speech Trump has given that he has any understanding of Israeli history or the history of the American-Israeli relationship. The speech he gave at the AIPAC convention in March is by far the most comprehensive record we have of Trump’s understanding of Israel and of what a Trump approach to Israel would be.  

The speech managed to avoid using the words Zionism or  Zionist.  The only way Trump was able to explain the importance of Israel to America was in his speech’s raucous conclusion: “I love the people in this room,” he said. “I love Israel. I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel.” In other words, Israel is important because Trump loves it, and Israel loves him back. With Trump, the personal is always political. But every administration has faced ups and downs and significant pushback and confrontation from Israel. The relationship has survived those rough patches precisely because U.S. presidents have understood there is a deeper, historic and values-based reason to protect Israel.  Nothing in what Trump said makes it clear he gets that.

2. Does the president recognize the unique external and internal threats to Israel’s security?

Trump’s AIPAC speech listed as the main threats to Israel the Iran deal, Palestinian incitement and terror, with the United Nations and President Barack Obama also competing for the top spots.

He did not mention the internal demographic threat to Israel and Israeli democracy arising from its occupation of the West Bank — a concern that has consumed Israeli and U.S. governments for 50 years.

As for what he would do about the Iran deal? He’ll make a better one. How? “We will, we will,” Trump said in his major policy address. “I promise, we will.”

Many Republican Jews are unwilling to take an untested businessman at his word.   When Trump announced that he thinks Israel should expand its West Bank settlements, the right-wing Zionist Organization of America sent out a press release trumpeting the statement. A Republican Jewish leader in Los Angeles told me he sent the ZOA a reply. “Don’t get so excited,” he wrote. “Who knows what Trump will say next week?”

3. Is the president able to use American power, influence and resources to help Israel face its threats?

The story is told that when newly elected President John F. Kennedy asked Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, how he could be the best president for Israel, Ben-Gurion told the young man, “Be the best president for the United States.”

As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel depends mightily on the most powerful democracy in the world. A strong America makes for a strong Israel, period.

If President Obama, for instance, had not been able to bring the American economy back from collapse in 2008, imagine the conversation this country would be having now about a generous Israel aid package.

The bottom-line reason so many Republican Jews oppose Trump is precisely that: They believe he will weaken and divide America. And a weak, divided America makes for a weak Israel.

It’s why so many Republican Jews are saying #NeverTrump.  And you have to wonder: If Trump can’t even make a deal with Israel’s best friends, how’s he going make one with Israel’s worst enemies?


Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. E-mail him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

Trump picks NJ Governor Christie to head transition team


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday he has chosen New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a rival turned ally, to lead his White House transition team as he prepares for the general election campaign.

“Governor Christie is an extremely knowledgeable and loyal person with the tools and resources to put together an unparalleled Transition Team, one that will be prepared to take over the White House when we win in November,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the Nov. 8 presidential election, said Christie will oversee an “extensive team.”

Christie endorsed Trump after dropping out of the 2016 Republican primary race in February and has been campaigning with the New York billionaire.

Trump's campaign said the candidate was moving into a general election mode and “implementing an infrastructure capable of securing a victory including making key hires, building a finance operation to benefit the Republican Party and unifying the party by working with several Republican leaders now voicing their support for Mr. Trump and his candidacy.”

Trump ‘totally disavows’ David Duke, condemns anti-Semitism


Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, on Thursday disavowed anti-Semitic comments made by white supremacist leader David Duke, saying, ”Anti-Semitism has no place in our society.”

On Wednesday, Duke blamed Republican Jews for attempting to block Trump from becoming the nominee during his radio program. “I think these Jewish extremists have made a terribly crazy miscalculation because all they’re going to be doing by doing a ‘Never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, their anti-American, anti-American majority position. … They’re going to push people more into an awareness that the neocons are the problem, that these Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem, and the reason why America is not great.”

Earlier Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “>NY Times Thursday afternoon, Trump said he “totally disavows” Duke comments about “Jewish extremists.”

“Antisemitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” said Trump.

The ADL welcomed Trump’s statement. “While no one should associate Mr. Trump’s own views with David Duke’s hatred, it is vital for political leaders to use their bully pulpit to speak out against bigotry,” ADL’s Greenblatt said in a follow-up statement. “We think it is important that Mr. Trump denounced the anti-Semitism of David Duke and has made clear that he disavows anti-Semitism.”

Cruz shows off ‘pastrami on rye’ during campaign stop in Indiana


Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz did all the mitzvahs needed to court Jewish voters in the Republican presidential primaries. He spoke at shuls during Shabbos services, printed red yarmulkes for his Jewish supporters, and even tried his shot at “>playbook and ordered a kosher-style “pastrami on rye” during a campaign stop in Indianapolis.

Following a campaign rally, Cruz greeted some 300 supporters at Shapiro’s Delicatessen, a Kosher-style delicatessen that has been serving the Indianapolis community for 110 years, ordered a “pastrami on rye with brown mustard” and showed it off to the press and the crowd, 

Cruz orders a pastrami on rye with brown mustard. Holds it up to the crowd, the crowd cheers. “>April 21, 2016

Two Trump kids won’t be voting for Dad in New York primary


Presidential candidate Donald Trump says two of his children feel guilty about missing a voter registration deadline, meaning they will not be able to vote for him next week in New York's Republican primary.

Eric Trump, 32, and Ivanka Trump, 34, the Republican front-runner's second and third children, have campaigned extensively with their father, but both missed the deadline for registering as Republicans to vote in the New York primary on April 19.

In a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump joked that he would have to find some way to punish Eric and Ivanka for their mistake.

“No more allowance!” the New York billionaire said with a laugh.

For already registered voters, any request to switch party affiliation must have been made by early October. The deadline for new voter registrations was March 25.

“They were unaware of the rules,” Trump said Monday on Fox News. “They feel very, very guilty.

“But it's fine. I mean, I understand that.”

Records from the New York State Board of Elections show both Eric and Ivanka are registered voters who are “not enrolled in a party,” ABC News reported.

Like their father, they have made political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, Federal Election Commission records show.

Trump's oldest child, Donald Jr., 38, already was registered Republican. The registration status of his other voting-age child, Tiffany, was not immediately known.

Trump's comments on Monday brought swift rebukes on Twitter from critics who said the Trump children's lapse bolsters doubts about whether Trump is a true Republican. Trump previously supported abortion rights and has donated to Democrats, including his now-rival Hillary Clinton.

“I for one am shocked as the whole family really seem like lifelong conservatives,” user Awen Lake (@AwenLake) posted on Twitter, adding the hashtag #reallydemocrat.

“This is so funny. I always knew he was a liberal,” a user named Allen (@alb309O) wrote. “He has his supporters bamboozled.”

Poll: Cruz threatens Trump’s nationwide lead


Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has pulled into a statistical dead heat with front-runner Donald Trump, a new Reuters/Ipsos national poll showed on Tuesday, as the Texas senator appeared poised to pick up a key victory in Wisconsin's primary.

Cruz's recent gains mark the first time since November that one of Trump's rivals has threatened his lead in support among Republicans, coinciding with missteps by the New York real estate mogul that include a gaffe about abortion and the arrest of his campaign manager on battery charges.

Cruz got 35.2 percent of support to Trump's 39.5 percent, the poll of 568 Republicans taken April 1-5 found. The numbers put the two within the poll's 4.8 percentage-point credibility interval, a measure of accuracy.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, and Trump were also briefly in a dead heat early last week. But as recently as a month ago, when Senator Marco Rubio was also still a candidate, Cruz trailed Trump in Reuters/Ipsos polling by about 20 points. Ohio Governor John Kasich, the only other Republican now remaining in the race for the party's nomination, placed third in Tuesday's poll with 18.7 percent.

Cruz appeared poised for victory in Wisconsin's nominating contest on Tuesday, according to opinion polls in the state. He hopes a Wisconsin victory will deliver a powerful message that he can unite disparate factions of the party and break Trump's momentum.

Facing possible defeat in Wisconsin, Trump proposed blocking money transfers to Mexico by undocumented immigrants as a way to pressure Mexico to pay for a border wall, a key component of his controversial immigration plan, which has won votes in other states.

Trump's campaign said in a memo that if elected, he would use a U.S. anti-terrorism law to cut off remittances from people living in the United States illegally. The memo elaborated on an idea Trump floated in August, when he suggested seizing all remittances tied to “illegal wages.”

Asked about Trump's remittances plan, Democratic President Barack Obama called it unworkable. “The notion that we're going to track every Western Union bit of money that's being sent to Mexico, good luck with that,” Obama said at a White House press briefing.

Trump's support has faltered among women in particular. He said in a March 30 interview that if abortion was illegal, women who end pregnancies could face punishment. He later reversed himself to say doctors who provide abortions should be held responsible.

He was also criticized for standing by his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, after the aide was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges in an incident with a journalist.

More than 70 percent of likely women voters said they had an “unfavorable” opinion of Trump, according to a rolling poll average for the five-day period ended April 5.

Trump dismissed concerns.

“I think we're going to do very well in Wisconsin,” he told reporters on Tuesday at a diner, where he declined a customer's offer to let him try on one of the dairy state's signature “cheesehead” hats.

Trump also disputes Cruz's claim he can unify the party, saying at rallies that “everybody hates Cruz.”

The role of unifier is an unlikely one for Cruz, who has had a stormy relationship with party leaders since he forced the U.S. government to shut down for six days in 2013 in a budget fight with Obama. But enmity toward Trump among many in the party establishment was enough for five former Republican White House rivals to back Cruz.

In the Democratic race, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a slender lead in opinion polls in Wisconsin over front-runner Hillary Clinton, but she maintained her lead nationally in a Reuters/Ipsos poll also released on Tuesday.

Behind Donald Trump, a son-in-law who is also an adviser


Before introducing Donald Trump to roughly a dozen Republican lawmakers at the Washington law offices of Jones Day, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions paused to acknowledge the man he said had facilitated the closed-door talks.

He said it was Jared Kushner, a 35-year-old real estate investor and newspaper owner, who had suggested the get-together last month, arguing that it would enable Trump to win more allies on Capitol Hill, according to a person in the room. 

Kushner is also Trump's son-in-law, having married the Republican presidential front-runner's daughter Ivanka in 2009. 

A real-estate tycoon like his father-in-law, Kushner has emerged as one of a very few advisers as Trump seeks the Republican nomination to the Nov. 8 election, according to five people close to Trump.

It is especially rare given that Trump styles himself as his own best adviser and has said he consults only a few people despite a promise to hire the country's top minds once he becomes president. 

While “well respected,” Kushner has no official campaign role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said. She confirmed however that Kushner had helped with the Sessions meeting and had informally advised the candidate on Israel and in other areas. 

In an interview Kushner's friend David Schulhof, founder of a music publishing company, cited a level-headedness and listening skill that would make Kushner a calming influence.

This could be helpful to Trump, 69, who entered the race 10 months ago hailing his having never held public office as an asset, but whose campaign has been rocked by turbulence over remarks offensive to women, Muslims, immigrants, party loyalists and others.

At times Kushner has urged Trump to behave like a more traditional candidate, stressing the importance of building relationships with politicians and traditionally active donors, say the sources close to Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity.

They also say Kushner can use friendships like the ones he has with media mogul Rupert Murdoch and billionaire Ronald Perelman as a bridge to influential people with whom his father-in-law is not close. Neither Murdoch nor Perelman would comment for this story.

ISRAEL CONNECTIONS

An Orthodox Jew, whose wife Ivanka converted to Judaism before they married, Kushner and his family have connections to Israel. Along with his father, also a prominent real-estate developer, Kushner was listed in a 2015 report by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as a benefactor for its real estate committee, which required a donation of at least $36,000 to the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.

Kushner's parents donated $20 million two years ago to a medical school campus in Jerusalem now named after them. 

Using his family and business ties, Kushner arranged a series of meetings for Trump during a trip the candidate planned to make to Israel last year, the sources say.

The trip never happened. Trump scrapped it after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Trump later suggested that if elected he would not take sides in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, a stance he said would help him negotiate a peace deal but which was unusually neutral for an American politician looking to court voters on Israel. 

Ahead of AIPAC's annual conference last month in Washington, Kushner advised his father-in-law to lay out concrete policies that would help smooth over relations with the Jewish community, according to two sources. He further advised him to use a teleprompter for the speech, ditching his usual conversational style, the people close to Trump said. 

It was also Kushner who fielded a call from Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who wanted to offer Trump the Israeli government's perspective ahead of the AIPAC speech, according to the sources.

Dermer's office declined to comment.

In the end, Trump delivered an uncharacteristically detailed speech to the 18,000 people who attended the conference, outlining a series of policy positions broadly aligned with AIPAC's. An AIPAC spokesman declined to comment.

Trump told attendees that Palestinians must scrub hatred of Israel from their educational system and stop naming public places after people who attacked Israel. He said the United States must stand with Israel in rejecting attempts by the United Nations to impose restrictions on Israel or parameters for a peace deal. He criticized the U.S. deal with Iran as bad for Israel. 

While helping Trump craft the speech, Kushner sought advice from the politically connected editor of his newspaper, the New York Observer. The editor, Ken Kurson, a former speech writer for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote in an email to Reuters that he reviewed the speech before Trump delivered it.

FAMILY TIES

Trump has loomed large in Kushner's life since day one of his marriage. The New York Post reported that invitations to Kushner's wedding, held at a Trump golf club in New Jersey, included a flier advertising Trump's other golf properties.

Kushner, who with his wife has taken family vacations with News Corp owner Murdoch and his ex-wife Wendi Deng, has worked to calm Murdoch's ire with Trump over the candidate's criticism of the company's Fox News Channel and star anchor Megyn Kelly, two people familiar with his activities say.

During regular phone calls and lunches Kushner tries both to soothe Murdoch and stump for his father-in-law, these people said. 

Despite his influence behind the scenes, Kushner keeps a largely low profile on the campaign trail. During a Trump rally in South Carolina last November, he hung back while other family members took the stage until his father-in-law called him out.

“Where's Jared? Jared get up here,” Trump shouted. Kushner, clad in charcoal-colored pants and a black quilted down vest, shuffled up, hands jammed in his pockets.

“Jared's a very successful developer and he just loves politics now,” Trump said, adding with a bit of gleeful teasing: “Look at him. See the way he dresses?”

Republican Ryan is raising big money but not for White House race


Overlooked in all the speculation about running for president, Republican Paul Ryan has quietly laid to rest doubts about his ability as a campaign fundraiser for congressional colleagues.

Ryan has raised more than $9 million through his “Team Ryan” network since his first day as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 30, 2015, through the end of January 2016, a Reuters review of U.S. Federal Election Commission filings showed.

That haul helps House Republicans and party committees and compares with about $6 million raised by his predecessor John Boehner over the same three-month period in the 2014 campaign cycle and about $7 million in the 2012 presidential election cycle.

Ryan has delivered at least $8 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), a party group that backs congressional Republicans, again topping Boehner in 2014 and 2012, according to FEC filings through Feb. 29.

That has helped put the NRCC in its best cash-on-hand position ever entering an election year, and placed it $2 million ahead of the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“I'll put it this way, Paul Ryan is a finance chair's dream in terms of fund-raising,” said Representative Ann Wagner, the NRCC's finance chairman.

The uncertainty this election year about who will win both parties' presidential nominations has also helped fundraising for congressional candidates, she said.

Ryan has defied skeptics who doubted last year that he could match Boehner on the cash front and still fulfill a pledge to be at home with his family on weekends.

“I'M NOT THAT PERSON”

In U.S. politics, the ability to fundraise is a key test of potential for higher office, but Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2012, has consistently denied he is interested in entering the 2016 White House race.

“Get my name out of it … I'm not that person,” Ryan said on Monday, speaking from Israel, where he is on a congressional visit, in an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Nonetheless Ryan is the center of speculation that he could emerge as a compromise nominee if the party's presidential nominating convention dissolves in chaos in July.

“I'm not running for president … End of story,” Ryan said.

Despite his fundraising prowess, there are some signs of trouble ahead for Ryan. The mere mention of his name produced boos from supporters of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at a recent rally in Ryan's home district. And a Wisconsin conservative has announced he will challenge Ryan in the Republican congressional primary election scheduled for August.

On Capitol Hill, Ryan must also preserve a tentative peace he has achieved among warring Republican factions in the Congress.

The first test will be to get Congress to pass a budget, and Ryan risks infuriating conservatives if he is forced to compromise with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown, as critics accused Boehner of doing.

“The challenge for Ryan is similar to the challenge Boehner faced. The Republican base, at this point, really doesn't like its own leadership,” said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

“So just being speaker may eventually take a toll on Ryan's popularity among Republicans,” he said.

Trump urged to shift tone ahead of Wisconsin contest


Donald Trump is facing pressure to adopt a more presidential tone in his White House campaign from Republican supporters worried that a string of missteps may do him lasting damage in the remaining state contests needed to clinch the nomination.

Trump lost ground on the online prediction market after drawing fire for his suggestion, later dialed back, that women be punished for getting abortions if the procedure is banned and for asserting that as president he might loosen the ties with longstanding U.S. allies.

Those who marveled at Trump's rise are warning the front-running New York billionaire that his shoot-from-the-lip approach to campaigning could jeopardize his chance to win the Republican nomination to the Nov. 8 election.

Tuesday could be a turning point when Wisconsin hosts its nominating contest. Trump, 69, trails his leading rival, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, 45, of Texas in the Upper Midwestern state.

A Cruz win would make it harder for Trump to reach the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the Republican national convention in July. The winner will take all of Wisconsin's 42 delegates.

“If he continues to fumble the ball, he risks everything,” said David Bossie, who as president of the conservative group Citizens United has helped to introduce Trump to grassroots activists. “These types of ham-handed mistakes give his opponents even greater opportunity.”

TRUMP, PARTY TALK UNITY

A businessman and former reality TV show host, Trump has never held public office but hails his mastery of negotiating business deals as the sort of experience a U.S. president needs to be successful at home and abroad.

He sent ripples through the Republican Party, which promotes a muscular foreign policy, by declaring NATO obsolete and suggesting Japan and South Korea might need to develop nuclear weapons to ease the U.S. financial commitment to their security.

Trump made a surprise visit on Thursday to the Republican National Committee in Washington where he said he and chairman Reince Priebus discussed how to unify the party going into the July convention.

Priebus also addressed any confusion Trump may have had about delegate allocation rules that will govern the proceedings, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

Should Trump fail to win enough delegates to secure the nomination outright in the state-by-state contests ending in June, party delegates will select a nominee at the convention in a complex process of sequential votes.

Online predictions market PredictIt said on Friday that the probability Trump will win his party's nomination had dropped sharply in the past week while the likelihood of a contested convention to choose another candidate had risen.

CAMPAIGN STYLE A RISK

Those Republicans who see in Trump a chance to generate voter turnout beyond party regulars to blue-collar Democrats and win the White House say his detail-free style of campaigning has come back to haunt him and he needs to gear up for a new phase.

Trump needs to be less sensitive about attacks from opponents and let some go by without responding, said retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a former Republican presidential candidate who dropped out of the race earlier this year and endorsed Trump.

“If he can just get beyond that and learn how to bite his tongue and redirect people to something that is important, it will show a level of statesmanship,” Carson said.

During the Wisconsin campaign, Trump has relentlessly attacked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who dropped out of the presidential race last year and who has endorsed Cruz.

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has offered Trump informal advice, said Trump should replicate the type of performance he gave at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21, when he spoke from a teleprompter and offered a well-thought-out case for strong U.S.-Israeli relations.

Gingrich said Trump should make eight to 10 policy speeches in order to give voters “a sense of stability and seriousness.”

“He's gone from being an insurgent that people laughed at and a front-runner that people were amazed by to the potential nominee. That requires you to change your role as all this comes together,” Gingrich said.

Alternatively, Trump could also start to listen to what he says is his wife Melania's longtime admonishment, “Darling, be more presidential.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders will compete in Wisconsin on Tuesday on the Democratic Party side. Both have hopscotched between Wisconsin and New York, which holds an April 19 primary.

Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York with national campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, is trying to prevent the Brooklyn-born Sanders, who represents Vermont in Congress, from eroding support on her home turf. Both candidates will attend a state party fundraising dinner in Wisconsin on Saturday.

Kasich offers himself to Trump voters


Republican presidential candidate John Kasich on Thursday offered himself as an alternative to the fervent supporters of Donald Trump, who may have been put off by his recent controversial comments.

“For those people who have been fervent Trump supporters, their frustration, their expressions do not fall on deaf ears for me,” Kasich told reporters at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “In addition to being a candidate for president of the U.S. and being governor of the great state of Ohio, I am also a citizen, and I see what’s happening. I know it’s frustrating. But to the Trump voters, there is hope. We’ve done it before – putting a team together to improve people’s situation, including those who have lived in the shadows. And, secondly, we can do it again.

Issuing a call for the Trump voters to defect, the Republican presidential hopeful said, “While the person that you have favored continues to move in an unmoored, untethered fashion, I understand that, at times, he is the vessel for your frustration, and I want to offer myself up. There’s a new vessel that could actually understand your problems, and work aggressively to fix them.”

Kasich listed five examples – his most recent comments on abortion, Muslim profiling, NATO, nuclear proliferation, and SCOTUS choice – that continue to prove Trump is not prepared to be president of the U.S. and serve as commander-in-chief and the leader of the free world.

“You wonder about his hand or his thumb getting any close to the critical buttons the president is in charge of,” he remarked. “It takes judgement. It takes experience. Not wild-eye suggestions, and, basically, moving from one suggestion and the need to try and explain what you really meant when you realize that the suggestion you made confused or enraged people. That is not how you act as president of the United States. It shows that he is really not prepared to be president of the United States.”

Kasich acknowledged that he has no path to get to 1,237 delegates before the convention, but so doesn’t Ted Cruz have a viable path to prevent a contested convention. Touting recent national polls that continue to show him as the only Republican that could beat Hillary Clinton in the fall, Kasich expressed confidence that his electability pitch would win over delegates and the establishment at the convention.

A Quinnipiac poll published on Thursday showed Kasich trailing Hillary Clinton by only five percentage points in the State of New York.