Ambivalent on Trump, GOP Jews gush over Pence
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Ambivalent on Trump, GOP Jews gush over Pence

Republican presidential hopeful's running mate as 'critical leader and important voice regarding Israel'

Presumptive US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence take the stage during a campaign rally at Grant Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana, on July 12, 2016.  (AFP Photo/Tasos Katopdis)
Presumptive US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence take the stage during a campaign rally at Grant Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana, on July 12, 2016. (AFP Photo/Tasos Katopdis)

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s relationship with presumptive nominee Donald Trump is … complicated. But they’re having no trouble getting behind Trump’s newly announced running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

When he spoke to the RJC in 2015, Trump raised eyebrows by calling the crowd “negotiators” and by saying, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money,” appearing to play into anti-Semitic stereotypes.

So after Trump captured the Republican nomination in early May, the RJC put out a less-than-full-throated statement that mentioned Trump only once. Much of the statement focuses on the need to defeat Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent, and stresses the importance of having a Republican Congress:

“The Republican Jewish Coalition congratulates Donald Trump on being the presumptive Presidential nominee of the Republican Party. Throughout the course of this long campaign among Republicans there has been unity in the belief that Hillary Clinton is the worst possible choice for a commander in chief. … Along with the Presidential race, the RJC will be working hard to hold on to our majorities in the Senate and the House. It is critical that these majorities be preserved. …”

Compare that with the group’s effusive statement on Pence today, which has no shortage of praise for his record. It calls him “terrific,” “critical,” “important” and a “welcomed addition”:

“The Republican Jewish Coalition welcomes the announcement of Governor Pence and congratulates him as the Republican Party Vice Presidential nominee. Not only has Governor Pence been a terrific governor in Indiana but he has also been a critical leader and important voice regarding Israel during his time in the House and as governor … Governor Pence is a welcomed addition to the GOP team in 2016.”

Of course, Pence is a longtime Republican official who has taken a lead on pro-Israel legislation throughout his career in the House and the Indiana governor’s mansion, endearing him to the RJC. Trump, by contrast, has sounded different notes on Israel and a range of other issues core to the group’s mission.

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