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January 13, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 13, 2012

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IammJmPAGEi"mammm I~I~IBI~IBUI~II16A 1RIINnlNmlll iBmnlllUl ~l[llll~ LI ~l ]llBIilUlB IIIRBB~ By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) There were three winners in the Iowa Republican caucuses: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and. not far behind them, Ron Paul. There were also (at least) three takeaways for Jewish observers: foreign policy matters, evangelicals mat- ter--and Ron Paul matters. The importance of foreign policy in the 2012 presiden- tial race. even in a farm state once known better for the pledges for ethanol subsidies it extracts from candidates, was evident in the speeches following the voting. Romney, the former Mas- sachusetts governor and nominative winner--he best- ed Santorum. the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, by a mere eight votes-- launched his speech with a broadside against President Obama's Iran policy. "'[ran is about to have nuclear weaponry just down the road," Romney told his followers. "He said he'd have a policy of engagement. How's that worked out?" Santorum's strong sSow- ing he and Romney split 50 percent of the vote evenly was credited mostly to his months-long dedication to the state, working every county and making more than 300 appearances. But Santorum's strong foreign policy performance in the debates, in which he showed a command of detail stemming from his 12 years in the Senate. also was likely a factor. In a recent New York Times profile. Santorum advisers said the candidate started to stress his own hard line on Iran after see- ing how it elicited positive responses during his Iowa campaign. Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House of Representa- tives speaker who placed fourth with 13 percent, said in his speech that he would make his foreign policy differences with Paul, who finished third in Iowa with 21 percent of the vote, a campaign issue in New Hampshire, which had its vote on Jan. 10. "l hav~ no doubt about the survival of Israel as a moral cause which we have to recogmze as central to our future." Gingrich said in his speech, targeting Paul who has downplayed Iran's potential nuclear threat and pledged to end aid to Israel if elected. Aside from Gingrich, candidates faring less well in Iowa included Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who received 10 percent of the vote, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R- Minn.), with 5 percent. Perry, after initially say- ing he would "reassess" his campaign, announced he was staying in the race. Bachmann, however. ended her drive for the nomination. "I have decided to stand aside." she said at a news conference Jan. 3. All three had at Various times during 2011 experi- enced surges in the polls, a signal of the difficulties faced by Romney, who has struggled to break away from the pack and establish himself as the clear front- runner. Romney's albatross has been his reputation as a moderate in a party that has moved sharply to the right since the 2010 con- gressional elections, when the conservative Tea Party helped Republicans regain the House. That was another factor explaining Santorum's last- minute surge; he performed especially well in rural Iowa counties where evangelicals predominate. Santorum is a Roman Catholic, but his take-no-prisoners stance on abortion and gay marriage, and his defense of religious expression in the public square has appealed to the evangelical base. "There is still an 'anybody but Mitt' camp, and it's win- nowed down by two today," via Creative Com- mons Rick Santorum, shown campaigning in Iowa on Jan.2, was reaching out to pro-Israel fundraisers in the wake of his strong showing in the state's caucuses, insiders said. He was a pro-Israel leader as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Fred Zeidman, a major fundraiser for Romney, said in an interview. SantorUm already was reaching out to pro-Israel fundraisers in the wake of his strong showing, insid- ers said. Those givers had mostly ignored him until now because of his back-of- the-pack showings in the polls until very recently. Pro-Israel insiders said Santorum would likely get a more receptive hearing in the wake of Iowa. although Stephanie Greenland/WEBN-TV via Creative Commons Mitt Romney, shown campaigning with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in Clive, Iowa, on Jan. 2, had strong Jewish backing even before eking out an eight- vote victory in the state's caucuses. whether it would be enough to assist him going into New Hampshire was another question. Santorum had a minimal grouncL operation in the state. As a senator. Santorum had a strongly pro-Israel record. but Zeidman said his social stances would ultimately alienate Jewish givers. "They would be anathema to the community," he said. Paul's showing kept him in the race. His 21 percent sup- port and his dominance Gage Skidmore via Creative Com- mons Ron Paul, shown speaking to supporters at a whistle stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Jan. 2, finished a strong third in the state's caucuses, which will worry Jewish campaign watchers who are concerned about his isolationism. among young and indepen- dent caucus-goers have left him as a force to be reckoned with. Jewish Republicans, how- ever, have discounted his support as mostly com- ing from supporters who took advantage of Iowa's relatively loose caucus rules: voters are allowed to register with the party up to the day of voting. Jon Huntsman. the for- mer Utah governor, did not compete in Iowa. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA]-- Rick Santorum's near-win in Iowa has made him the GOP's latest "not Romney" to pick up steam, but he may have his work cut out for him in attracting Jewish support. Pro-Israel insiders say the Santorum campaign is now aggressively reaching out to Jewish givers who helped him when he was a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum's stumbling block, they say, is his hard-line take onsocial issues like abor- tion. gay rights and church- state separation not a huge deal when he was one senator among a hundred but a bigger factor for donors considering presidential contenders. "The same groups are not goilag to support you for president as for senator," a major pro-Israel donor, who contributed to Santorum's Senate runs. said he told the candidate last summer. Santorum, long lagging at the bottom of the polls, finished only eight votes be- hind Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in the Iowa caucuses. Santorum, 53. is the lat- est Republican hopeful to be vaulted toward the head of the field by a conservative base that has never been comfortable with Romney. While others have fallen back to earth, some argue that Santorum could be buoyed by his potential appeal to -working-class voters and religious conservalEives. Lonny Kaplan, a New Jer- sey businessman and a past president of the American Israel Public Affairs Com- mittee, has donated the .maximum to Santorum's campaign $2,500--and says he's readying a pitch to fellow pro-Israel givers. "He can appeal to a lot of independents, he's got the right economic message." Kaplan said in an interview. Santorum has proposed eliminating corporate taxes on domestic manufacturers to lure factories stateside. He has emphasized his roots as the grandson of an Italian immigrant coal miner who left fascist Italy and worked until he was 72. In his near-victory speech after the Iowa caucuses, Santorum chided his fellow Republicans, urging them to look beyond budget numbers and focus more on jobs. "I believe in cutting taxes. I believe in balancing budgets. ...But I also believe we as Republicans have to look at those who are not doing well in our society by just cutting taxes and balancing budgets," he said. Santorum also calls for tripling the personal tax deduction per child; freez- ing spending on Medicaid, food stamps and other social welfare programs; turning Medicare into a voucher pro- gram for beneficiaries to buy their own private insurance; and adjusting Social Security eligibility and benefits. He also has been a longtime supporter of shifting Social Security to personal retire- ment accounts, though in this campaign cycle he said that this would be too expen- sive under current economic circumstances. Kaplan said that Santorum would now need to emphasize his economic and foreign policy messages if he wanted to win Jewish support. "In terms of social issues, he has strong views, but he needs to also get out what he does for people," Kaplan said. During his two terms in the Senate. from 1995 to 2006, Santorum had a positive work- ing relationship with Jewish communal groups in hisstate, earmarking federal funding for projects they supported, among them the naturally oc- curringretirementcommuni- ties, or NORCs, pioneered by the Jewish federations system. "His office was great in terms of helping to find money for projects." said Robin Schatz, director of government affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. It's a past that other candi- dates have now turned against him, with earmarks derided as "pork'--decidedly un- popular among conservatives. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has run anti-Santorum ads that repeat, on a loop, Santorum's defense of earmarks. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times last week ran front-page stories chronicling Santorum's prof- itable post-Senate ties with groups that benefited from his earmarks while he was in Congress. Schatz, however, said that in her experience Santorum went by the book on appro- priations. "You really had to jump through hoops" to get funding for a project, she said. "He did due diligence. You had to prove itwas aprojectworthy of federal funding." Santorum was attentive to the Jewish community and not just in election yearS. He convened town hall meetings in Jewish community centers cm issues such as health care. "He was very accessible," Schatz said. "He had a great sense of humor." She recalled that evenwhen he encountered angry Jewish critics of his social policies, he responded with grace and did not lose his temper. Santorum's rhetoric on such issues, however, also can be polarizing. In a 2003 inter- view, when asked whether gay people should refrain from having sex, he responded by defending the constitution- ality of anti-sodomy laws, arguing that "if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensuat sex within your home. then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery." While Santorum's pen- chant for hard-edged talk on social issues often has defined his public image, supporters point to a softer side. A devout Roman Catholic-- albeit one who belonged to the historically Jewish fraternity Tau Epsilon Phi when he was an undergraduate at Penn State Santorum and his wife, Karen, are the parents of seven children. On the campaign trail he has moved audiences dis- cussing the loss of an eighth child, Gabriel. who was born premature in 1996 and" sur- viwd only two hours, and the family's round- the - clock care for Isabella, his youngest at 3, who was born with Trisomy 18, a disorder that kills most of its victims in their first year of life. Kaplan said he would work to showcase Santorum's compassion for the needy. He noted Santorum's role in shaping President George W. Bush's massive expansion of funding for AIDS victims in Africa. "People think Santorum isn't someone who could be helping those people out, but he was," he said. Santorum has stood out from the Republican field with his vigorous opposi- tion to calls from his fell.ow candidates to slash foreign aid:calI~ that have been criticized by some supporters of Israel. Perry proposed that aid allocations for all countries should "start at zero" every year before any appropria- tions are considered, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has called for a complete end to foreign aid. Romney, for his part, suggested ending all foreign aid for humanitarian purposes arguing instead that the U.S. should cede that role to China. During a November debate, Santorum assailed his rivals for "talking about zeroing out foreign aid and humanitarian aid in particular," warning that such an approach would be self-defeating. "America is that shining city on the hill. It is the city that comes to the aid of those in trouble in the world," Santorum said. "We have done more good for America in Africa and in the Third World by the things that we have done, and we have saved money and saved military deployments by wisely spend- ing that money not on our enemies but on folks who can and will be our friends." Perhaps Santorum's deep- est appeal to Jewish backers is his steadfast pro-Israel posture. As a freshman sena- tor in 1996, he helped shape an earlier installment of Iran sanctions legislation. He also has taken a tough line toward the Palestinians, explaining whiIe campaigning in Iowa that the West Bank "is legiti- mately Israeli country" and that "all the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians." More pronouncedly, than any other candidate, he has been supportive of possible rO.iitar~ &ct~.on against Iran, even delving into particulars. "Iwould say to every foreign scientist that's going into Iran to help them with their nuclear program, 'You will be treated as an enemy com- batant,'" he said recently on NBC's"Meetthe Press." Work- ing with Israel, he added, "We will degrade those facilities through airstrikes and make it very public that we are do- ing that." Yet while his Middle East views may play well with some Jewish voters and donors, it remains to be seen whether they will be enough to over- come the hesitance many have regarding his positions on social issues. "Some of his very militant stands on issues that have to do with choice, with ho- mosexuality-it made some people in the community uncomfortable," Schatz said. The hard-edged way in which he expressed his views on such issues helped fell him in 2006. when he lost his Senate re-election bid by 18 points to Democrat Bob Casey, also an opponent of abortion rights.- But that hasn't stopped him from continuing to advocate a hard line in the current election. A Santorum attack ad attacked then-rival Herman Cain for describing abortion in the event of rape as a woman's choice. The ad quoted Steve Deace, an Iowa radio host, saying that Cain's position "favors baby murder in cases of rape and incest." One Jewish Romney sup- porter said that Santorum's stances on social issues should rule him out for consideration not just as a presidential can- didate but also a Republican running mate. "Santorum on the ticket would kill us in Florida," the Romney backer said.