Presidential candidates court AIPAC lobbying group

World Today

In Washington, most of the candidates hoping to succeed President Obama have been speaking to thousands of supporters of Israel.

It’s part of the annual gathering of the powerful lobby known as AIPAC.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Presidential candidates court AIPAC lobbying group

In Washington, most of the candidates hoping to succeed President Obama have been speaking to thousands of supporters of Israel. It’s part of the annual gathering of the powerful lobby known as AIPAC. CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential frontrunner, started off his speech before the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC by saying: he wouldn’t pander to the group. He then spent the next 25 minutes doing just that.

Trump said, “I’m a newcomer to politics, but not to backing the Jewish state. When I become President the days of treating Israel like a Second class citizen will end on Day 1.”

Trump’s remarks echoed those before and after him. But he arguably had more convincing to do after recent comments that he would take a “neutral” position in peace negotiations with the Palestinians caused concern among many Jewish-American voters.

His speech before the 20,000 strong AIPAC crowd was a short contrast to his address before a Republican Jewish gathering in December. There, his off-the-cuff remarks, jokes, Trump said, weren’t well received. Some said they fed on anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The AIPAC address was scripted. Trump used a teleprompter, not his usual style, and consulted with Jewish-American leaders in advance.

Despite threats by some Jewish groups that they would silently walk out in protest, the crowd was mostly hospitable.

But it wasn’t the type of enthusiastic welcoming that his likely rival, Hillary Clinton, received earlier in the day.

Clinton is widely popular among the pro-Israel crowd, some of it a legacy from her husband’s presidency, some of it her own work as Secretary of State. She enjoyed wide support from Jewish-Americans in her previous run for president. And going after Trump and his comments at this sort of event was a no brainer.

Both Clinton and Trump and the other candidates also talked about Iran, and the recent deal made by world powers, including the Obama administration.

Trump said he would scrap it on day one.

Clinton suggested she would be tougher on Tehran than Obama. She said she support the deal, but that Iran is not to be trusted, language guaranteed to resonate with a group that’s been largely critical of any normalization with the Islamic Republic.


Journalist Eleanor Clift on AIPAC

CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Eleanor Clift, a Washington-based journalist about AIPAC.

Journalist Eleanor Clift on AIPAC

CCTV America's Mike Walter interviewed Eleanor Clift, , a Washington-based journalist about AIPAC.