Latest update: September 21st, 2012
In a new presidential campaign television advertisement which starts airing today, September 20, in parts of southern Florida, there’s only one person on screen and that one man isn’t running for president of the United States. In fact, that one man is not even an American, although he is well-known to most people in the heavily-Jewish communities of Southern Florida – it’s Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Secure America Now is the organization behind the thirty second ad which shows Netanyahu talking about what many consider to be the over-arching foreign policy issue of our time – the potential nuclear weaponization of Iran. SAN describes itself as a bipartisan foundation focused on national security issues, particularly in the Middle East.
As ominous music plays in the background, the Israeli Prime Minister stands at a podium, saying “as Iran gets closer and closer to having nuclear bombs, the world tells Israel to wait, there’s still time. I say, wait for what? Wait until when?” Netanyahu made that statement, according to the Associated Press, last week, on September 11.
While President Obama’s campaign focuses on the fact that more aid to Israel has been provided by the United States under President Obama than ever before, those who understand how the federal government works know that under the US Constitution funding decisions are made almost exclusively by congress. But the one thing over which the president has virtually exclusive control – and certainly the most important responsibility of the executive branch – is foreign policy.
And with respect to foreign policy there is a stark contrast between the two presidential candidates. The importance of a leader’s position on how to deal with a turbulent Middle East was brought into sharp focus over the last few days with anti-American demonstrations taking place in dozens of countries throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East.
The Israeli Prime Minister has been publicly pushing President Obama to set “red lines” beyond which if Iran moves, a military response will then be appropriate in the eyes of the leader of the United States. President Obama has refused to publicly articulate any such explicit position, preferring to continue engaging in diplomacy and enforcing certain sanctions.
This particular impasse is being touted by the pro-Romney advocates as an indication of weakness on the part of President Obama, and as Netanyahu’s militaristic posturing by Obama supporters.
The SAN ad video fades out and concludes with the following text: “The world needs America’s strengths, not apologies,” and directs viewers to SAN’s website, www.secureamericanow.com.
Coinciding with the release of the “Wait for What?” ad campaign, SAN released the results of polls it commissioned which show that in two key swing states, Florida and Ohio, a large majority of voters believe that if allowed to develop nuclear weapons, Iran would use them to arm terrorist groups to attack the United States. Also, “results in Florida and Ohio reveal that clear – and in Florida, overwhelming – majorities support a strong foreign policy in the Middle East, and a robust national defense. Further, they remain uneasy about the current state of national security and the direction of the country’s foreign policy strategy.”
The SAN polls were conducted by Caddell Associates, a long-time Democratic polling group, and McLaughlin and Associates, a firm that typically works for Republicans.
According to those polls, large majorities in both battleground states, but with greater strength in Florida, believe that a strike by Israel on Iranian nuclear facilities would either benefit everyone in the world, or at least the US and Israel. Overwhelming majorities are convinced that neither sanctions nor diplomacy will convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program, the same polls show.
Not much is known about the players behind Secure America Now because contributions to it are not tax-deductible, which means that the names of its donors do not have to be made public. According to the press release on these polls, however, Jeri Thompson, former political consultant and the wife of former US Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN), is an SAN advisory board member.
According to Thompson, the just-released polls reveal that a big factor driving the foreign policy focus is women between the age of 30 and 55. She said that the “so-called ‘Security Moms’ have not gone away since 9/11 and must be accounted for in the current foreign-policy debate and in this election.”
According to a Republican source quoted by the news site Politico.com, $1 million will be spent on this ad campaign. The ad is scheduled to be shown in Miami, West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers, Florida.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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