“We are here in dark times. We are here in challenging times,” said Norm Coleman, board chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “The RJC was created for a moment like this — to ensure that America has Israel’s back to do whatever it takes to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth, however long it takes.”
On Saturday, Coleman, a former US senator, introduced nearly four hours of speeches by Republican presidential nominees at the RJC annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas.
Coleman said he didn’t know what the candidates would say, but that each would do a better job than President Joe Biden.
“When America is weak, the world is less safe,” said Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Biden and the Democratic Party have “allowed an anti-Israel, antisemitic mentality into their ranks,” she said, adding that supporting Hamas is not a gray area.
“This is about good versus evil,” she said. “I want to make it abundantly clear: The Republican Party stands with Israel.”
“It’s no surprise how we got here,” said Ramaswamy, a political neophyte who drew riches from a hedge fund and investment firm and was a tech entrepreneur. “It is the inevitable result of this self-loathing, anti-American woke orthodoxy that has pervaded our universities, our companies and nearly every major institution across this country over the last decade.”
Despite having made comments widely viewed as threatening to the US-Israel relationship, Ramaswamy denied that he is anti-Israel. “That’s dead wrong,” he said, claiming that his would be the most pro-Israel vision that the audience would hear, but not “standard, GOP-approved talking points.”
He said that in his “George Washington, America-first conservative” view, America should get out of Israel’s way.
Ramaswamy drew some boos when he said that Washington should avoid foreign military entanglement, supporting Israel instead with a “diplomatic iron dome.” He claimed that US military engagement would hamstring both Washington and Jerusalem, and that unrestrained, the Israel Defense Forces could get the job done alone.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
“We need to stop sending pallets of cash and unrequited love to Iran,” said the South Carolina senator. During his talk he often got very emotional, raising his voice, quoting from scripture and pacing the stage, as if preaching.
“We need a new president and administration that doesn’t speak with a forked tongue, saying they support Israel in the day while they delay Israel at night,” Scott said. “As a Christian, I see the Jewish people as my elder brothers and sisters in faith. We all serve the one true G-d.”
The senator focused on anti-Jewish hatred on college and university campuses, which he said are proving a cancer that requires a “cultural chemotherapy.”
“They seem more offended by microaggressions than mass murder,” he said.
“There is a difference between free speech and hate speech,” said the former New Jersey governor, who is also a lawyer. “There is a difference between free speech and violence. There is a difference between incitement and free speech.”
“What’s going on on our college campuses today is not free speech,” he said. “It is hate speech.”
“The world knew what was going on in Germany in the 1930s and they said, ‘It’s not our problem. It’s not as bad as you say’,” Christie said. “It was American isolationism that led to those excuses.”
“Nobody in this room does not want America to be first,” said Christie, alluding both to the America First movement that delayed US entry into WWII and to a phrase often linked to former President Donald Trump. “All of us do. It is how America becomes first that is the argument in our party right now.
“Do we become first by turning our back on the rest of the world? Do we become first by saying, ‘Well, this problem, this hate, this murder, this terrorism is not our problem?’ Don’t be fooled, everyone.
“It’s time for unserious people to leave the stage and for serious people to stand up and say there is no substitute for American leadership in this world,” he added. “None at all.”
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
“Hamas is a proxy of Iran. Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran,” the North Dakota governor and businessman said, noting that Biden did not name Iran in his statements after the brutal Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.
“In business terms you all understand, Joe Biden thinks that if we go after the subsidiary, it’s OK to leave the parent company alone — the one that’s providing all of the funding,” he said.
“When I am your president, we’ll reinstate rule number one: Don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Burgum said to applause.
“Joe Biden’s recent $6 billion hostage deal just put a $1 billion price tag on every American student, every American tourist and every American business leader traveling or living abroad,” he said.
The former vice president used the RJC platform to withdraw from the face and also to emphasize his support for the Jewish state.
“The United States is experiencing the most explosive and dangerous demonstrations of antisemitism in our history,” Pence said. “Never before have people gathered in the streets of America to celebrate the mass murder of Jews.”
“It’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” he said. “So, after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, effective today.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
“Israel values life. The Hamas terrorists worship death,” DeSantis said. “Don’t tell me there’s a moral equivalency here, because there is not.”
He continued: “I don’t care what imbeciles on college campuses say. I don’t care what liars in the media say. I don’t care what reprobates at the United Nations say. We stand with Israel. We stand with the people of Israel.”
“We would not be here today as Americans were it not for what took place in the Holy Land thousands and thousands of years ago,” he added. “The Judeo-Christian tradition is what western civilization was built on. It was what this country was built on. And they’re the caretakers of that important piece of land.”
Emphasizing his anti-immigrant stance, DeSantis vowed to build a wall on the southern border, block Palestinians who hate Israel from coming to the United States, and revoke student visas for those who support Hamas.
“The world is on fire,” said Haley, former US ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor. “But here in America, we’re acting like it’s Sept. 10, when we were blind to the world’s dangers. We need to remember what it felt like on Sept. 12.”
“We need to wake up. We need to regain our moral clarity,” she continued. “We need to commit ourselves to ensure that good defeats evil. That means fighting antisemitism in Congress and on college campuses, and it means giving Israel everything she needs to destroy Hamas. Eliminate Hamas once and for all. Finish them.”
Haley said she is glad that many, in both parties, support Israel and that Biden “is saying some of the right things.”
However, she added, “his actions haven’t always matched his words. If you stand with Israel, you don’t cozy up to Iran. Biden followed in Obama’s Iran-sympathizing footsteps by helping Israel’s number-one enemy. There would be no Hamas without Iran, and there would be no murders without Iran giving the green light.”
Haley said that the situations in Israel and Ukraine are more similar than different, and that the United States should support both for their own sake and for US national security.
“Iran and Russia are joined at the hip, and they’re both unlimited partners of Communist China. Iran, Russia and China are all part of an unholy alliance,” she said.
“Mark my words. Those who would abandon Ukraine today are at risk of abandoning Israel tomorrow,” she said. “They’ve lost sight of who our friends are and who our enemies are. Who is good and who is evil. That is not who you want in the Oval Office.”
The former president, who is leading in the polls by more than 40 points, described himself as “the best friend that Israel has ever had.”
“Everybody says, ‘You sir are the best friend that Israel has ever had,’ and with four more years, I will defend America and I will defend Western civilization from the barbarians and savages and the fascists that you see right now trying to do harm to our beautiful Israel,” he said.
The war between Israel and Hamas is “a fight between civilization and savagery, between decency and depravity, and between good and evil,” Trump said. “There is no comparison between a group that worships death and a group that cherishes life and cherishes our nation.”
“If we don’t win this election, I really believe you’re not going to have Israel anymore,” he said. “And you’re not going to have the United States of America anymore.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if by “we” he meant Republicans or himself.