South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a likely Republican presidential candidate, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday and vowed to stand up for Israel in the United Nations.
Graham also pledged a “violent pushback” against the Palestinians if they pursue war crimes charges against Israeli soldiers in the International Criminal Court.
Graham told reporters at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel:
If there’s an effort by any nation to have the [U.N.] Security Council define the terms of the peace process, there will be a violent backlash from the United States Congress in a bipartisan fashion.
Graham’s remarks allude to a recently announced proposal by France that vowed to recognize a Palestinian state if there is no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians through an upcoming French-backed U.N. Security Council resolution.
“I am in charge of the foreign assistance account, I’m in charge of the money we provide for the United Nations,” said Graham, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker visited the Western Wall (Kotel) this week for the first of several photo-ops that are likely to precede an announcement in June that he will be another candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
“Really, for us though, we wanted to make it an educational focus, not just a media trip,” Walker said.
His “education” will be focused on learning enough about Israel that he can convince people he know something about foreign policy, a subject on which he already has proved is far from being his ace.
Walker recently compared the Islamic State (ISIS) with union protesters, meaning he could take care of both groups, CNN reported.
He obviously is not on the left side of the Republican party.
Walker said in South Carolina last Saturday:
We need a commander-in-chief who will once and for all call it what it is, and that is that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to us all. We need a president who will affirm that Israel is our ally, and start acting like it.
His itinerary covers the usual required sites, such as the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial. He also will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Members and IDF officers.
A helicopter tour will give him a bird’s-eye view of Israel’s narrow borders with unfriendly neighbors.
Walker returns to the United States on Thursday, where he undoubtedly will tell everyone how much he now knows about Israel.
It is amazing how politicians learn so much so quickly. Gov. Walker said in South Carolina last week:
Although I’ve only been here once this year, I know South Carolina. Now get to know me.
If Israel is going to be his calling card in the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, Walker does not have much of a chance. Israel is near the bottom of subjects that interest most American voters.
But terror is big, and Walker is big on fighting terror.
In his speech in South Carolina, he said:
it is not a matter of if another attempt is made on American soil; it is a when another attempt is made on American soil…. I want a leader who is willing to take the fight to them before they take the fight to us.
If Gov. Walker joins the race to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2016, he will have plenty of company. His problem, and that of most other Republican candidates, is that they all sound alike.
Retired neurosurgeon and black Republican Dr. Ben Carson has announced he is running to be his party’s nominee for president in next year’s election.
Dr. Carson visited Israel in December, reported here, an unofficial prerequisite for presidential candidates.
The 63-year-old Republican is from Detroit, lived in Baltimore for more than 35 years and now lives in Florida. He was the first black doctor to head the Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgery unit.
His lack of both political experience and ties with such factions as the Tea Party offers Republican voters a distinct choice among the growing number of candidates. However, he does not have the organization and political experience of other contenders, the most popular being Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, also from outside the political world, is considering tossing her hat in the political ring.
Dr. Carson grew up in poverty and has the appeal to white voters as their desired image of an America where anyone can achieve success through hard work and without making himself out to be a victim.
He has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama, whom Dr. Carson once described as someone who “seems to believe more in a utopian view of cradle-to-grave care.”
He has made headlines, for better and for worse, on the issue of same-sex marriage. Below is an interview on CNN in which he maintained that homosexuality is a choice and that each state should decide for itself whether or not to allow marriages of homosexuals. He said in the interview that many people become homosexuals after being in prison.
After harsh criticism, he apologized, and Dr. Carson stated before announcing his candidacy today:
I’ve come to recognize that when you use certain terms, people can no longer hear anything else you say. As you’ll notice in the last several weeks, I’ve been able to get my points across without inflammatory language.
In his visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in December, Dr. Carson placed a note between the bricks and later referred to King Solomon in an interview with CBN and said he asked God for “Solomonic wisdom on what to do” concerning the race for president.
His stand on Israel is clear, and he told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
“Until such time as their neighbors are no longer desirous of their elimination,” Israel’s continued control of the West Bank “makes perfectly good sense.”
Dr. Carson’s strong conservative stand may appeal to Christian evangelists despite his being black.
He said at the national Prayer Breakfast earlier this year that the United States is headed for “moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility.” He also declared:
We have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.
President Barack Obama was sitting a few feet away, and although Carson did not directly blame the president for America’s ills, the White House was upset.
“Within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of the program, I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him,” Carson later wrote in his book “One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future.”
Carson added in his book, “I said that I did not think that he was offended and that I didn’t think that such a call was warranted.”
Polls showing Hillary Clinton as the hands-down winner over any Republican candidate in next year’s presidential elections have left some Democrats with concern that the survey results may not be great news.
A Quinnipiac University published on Thursday revealed that only 38 percent of the respondents trust Clinton, while a majority of 54 percent thinks she is not honest or trustworthy.
She tops the polls when pitted against GOP candidates, and her leadership qualities are considered strong by those who participated in the poll, which also shows Marco Rubio as the emerging favorite among Republicans.
Quinnipiac’s Tim Malloy said of the poll results:
This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenaline into a campaign. Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has the nomination as the Democratic candidate sewed up if she stays healthy and if no more scandals are exposed, but it still is a free-for-all in the Republican party.
When Quinnipiac asked voters to decide between different Republican candidates and Clinton, Rubio came out best with 43 percent, followed by Rand Paul with 42 percent, Chris Christie with 40 percent and Jeb Bush with 39 percent.
More significant is that Clinton did not win majority support against any of the rivals. Her largest showing was only 46 percent when rated against Paul and Bush. She won 45 percent against Rubio and Christie.
The CNN poll is the only one that gives Clinton more than 50 percent support, It also show her with a 14-point lead over Rubio, the favorite in its survey,
A Fox News survey gives Clinton only a three-point lead over Paul and a four-point lead over Rubio and over Bush.
Like the Quinnipiac poll, she did not win more than 47 percent support from respondents.
Republicans will work hard to play up the issue of honesty, a virtue that has not been Clinton’s ace, especially, since it was discovered that she used her personal e-mail account when she was Secretary of State.
She also carries the stain of her handling, or mis-handling, of the assassination of the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
Rubio, son of immigrants from Cuba, will be only 44 years old in May, and Clinton is 67. She has more experience, but Rubio is trying to turn his age to an advantage with an approach that the United States needs leadership that is not “stuck in the 20th century.”
President Barack Obama responded Monday to an open letter sent to Iran by 47 Republican Senators to Iran, about the limitations of any agreement signed by his administration with Tehran acquiescing to a nuclear development program the Congress may not like.
Obama accused the senators — who included three presidential candidates — of aligning with Iranian hardliners.
The letter said that any such agreement signed by the president or Secretary of State John Kerry might only last as long as Obama remains in office because it is formatted as an “executive agreement.”
“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition,” Obama told reporters in a brief news conference in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon.
Asked what might happen following any agreement signed by the U.S. and world powers if Congress does not like the deal, the president replied, “If we do (sign) then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama may sign a 10-year deal with Iran this month, but if the Congress has its way, that agreement won’t be worth the paper it’s written on, once Obama is out of office.
All 47 Republican senators banded together to send an open letter about the deal to Iran this week. The letter warned that nation’s leadership that any nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration without Congressional support would be a “mere executive agreement.”
As such, the letter went on, “the next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded that the “letter is a continuation of a partisan strategy” and said the lawmakers were “interfering in a delicate moment” in the talks, which are due to resume on March 15. The deadline for an agreement is March 31.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) spoke with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer on Monday and explained that the letter to Iran simply meant, “If this is a bad deal, it will be revisited. We are going to represent the views of the American people.
“Iran has said it does not understand our governmental system. This is a civics lesson for Iran, and I think that’s perfectly appropriate… This just says that the deal better represent U.S. interests as well as Iran interests… If it’s a bad deal, then there will be repercussions.”
The move was organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton, but signed by the Senate’s entire Republican party leadership, as well as three presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
Because the Congress has been blocked from having any role to play in the negotiating process, lawmakers are very frustrated. As long as the agreement does not have to be ratified by Congress, the Secretary of State or the president can sign the document at the executive branch level, leaving the legislative branch with no role.
It looks like Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is looking for a safety net to deal with the mounting controversy over his agreement to address the U.S. Congress on March 3.
“It appears that the Speaker of Congress made a move in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides,” HaNegbi said. However, when asked whether Netanyahu should cancel or postpone his address, HaNegbi asked, “What would be the outcome then? The outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is going to be a very dramatic decision (meaning Iran).”
A Netanyahu spokesman declined to comment on HaNegbi’s comments on Friday. HaNegbi is a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party.
It is clear the Likud is doing what it can to diffuse any political fallout from the controversy. The White House is working very hard to prevent him from speaking to Congress or being re-elected; Netanyahu is apparently perceived as a threat to Pres. Barack Obama, though it is not clear how or why.
Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer arranged the date with GOP House Speaker John Boehner months ago, setting the address originally for Feb. 11, but changing it to March 3, the same week as the annual AIPAC conference.
The date was set without consulting the White House or anyone from the Democratic Party leadership, skipping the usual protocol – a move which infuriated both President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.
But what’s upset the White House even more is the topic of the address: Netanyahu has been invited to address the Congress on the issue of the Iranian nuclear threat. The speech is to be delivered less than a month from the deadline for an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear development activities being discussed with Tehran by world powers.
Obama and his supporters are deeply concerned that Netanyahu could sabotage those talks and derail that agreement, which he has worked hard to achieve.
Netanyahu, for his part, is indeed hoping he can do just that. The Israeli prime minister has underscored in every public address he has made for months the gravity of the situation with Iran, and the existential threat its nuclear development program presents to Israel. Netanyahu is determined to do everything in his power to dial back that agreement, which he insists allows the Iranians to retain the ability to create an atomic weapon of mass destruction with very little additional effort.