July 27th, 2012
10:33 PM ET

What's at stake for Romney in Israel

By Tom Foreman and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

(CNN)—Mitt Romney will be glad handing and photo opping in Israel until Monday during the second leg of the presumptive GOP nominee's international campaign trip.

It is unmistakably aimed, in part, at a traditional Democratic voting bloc: Jewish Americans who are politically active in fundraising, campaigning and voting.

"I think Mitt Romney is going to Israel certainly to court the Jewish vote," said Randall Balmer, the chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College and author of "God in the White House."

"It's definitely sending a message that Israel is important for Romney, that he, he has warm feelings about Israel, that he cares about Israel," said Nathan Guttman, a Washington correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward. "It's sort of important for this kind of a Jewish electorate. But again, we should keep in mind that this is the minority of Jewish voters."

He added, "Most of them are Obama voters to start with; they won't be swayed by it; they don't really care much."

But Romney may have an even larger voting bloc in mind during his trip.

"The constituency he wants to impress is the evangelicals, people who have an unequivocal support for Israel," Balmer said. "This is the constituency that was quite suspicious of him in the course of the primaries, and in may ways he hasn't fully won them over."

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories

Meanwhile, President Obama appears to be trying to undercut the impact of the visit with either faction of the Jewish vote.

The White House released another $70-million in military aid for Israel on Friday, saying it underlines the president's "unshakeable commitment" to that American ally.

Much has been made over perceived chilly relations between the Obama administration and the current administration in Israel.

The president won the vast majority of votes by Jewish Americans in 2008. A recent Gallup Daily tracking poll showed registered Jewish voters preferred Obama 68% to 25% over Romney.

Several conservative activists have told CNN that Romney's trip to Israel is an important step in trying to strengthen his support among evangelicals and conservatives. The activists say that the trip will help reassure them about the former governor of Massachusetts.

Romney has struggled to win over many social conservatives who felt that his past positions on social issues were too liberal and many evangelicals who raised theological concerns over Romney's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Countless Christian evangelicals are indeed staunch supporters of Israel, citing a Biblical kinship with the Jewish nation.

Their interest in Israel's well-being has motivated a number of Republican contenders to visit the Holy Land and speak out for Israeli rights.

One key group is Christians United for Israel, which has more than a million members and politically conservative leaders who have expressed disappointment over Obama's sometimes tense relationship with Israel.

"American Christians, Americans in general, are going to want to see Governor Romney treat Israel and treat Prime Minister Netanyahu with a respect and an appreciation," said Christian United for Israel's Executive Director David Brog. "Many of us feel (that respect) has not been present, has been lacking in the current administration."

"Unlike other issues, this issue is still in play," Brog continued. "When it comes to the issue of foreign policy, and when it come to the issue of how a president will deal with our ally Israel and our struggle with radical Islam, people are still waiting for information, minds are still open. And this is where governor can influence voters and pick up significant support."

Some Christians, known as Christian Zionists, believe that the Jews' return to Israel, which became a Jewish state in 1948, is a sign of the approaching Rapture, when the righteous will ascend to heaven while others are left behind.

Background: Mideast action at U.N. casts spotlight on Christian Zionism

The Rapture, many evangelicals believe, will usher in an apocalyptic period that will culminate in Jesus' return. Some Christians believe that keeping Israel in Jewish hands will help expedite that scenario.

Activists, academics and religious believers disagree about how such apocalyptic thinking may affect Christian support for Israel.

Many other Christians and Jews see such a scenario as a radical interpretation of scripture. Brog dismisses the notion that theology about the end times could boost support of Israel. "This is simply one of those urban myths," he said.

Still, it all raises the stakes on Romney's Israeli visit; making it clear this trip will be closely watched by American voters on both the left and the right.

CNN's Dan Gilgoff and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Israel • Judaism • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (761 Responses)
  1. Hypatia

    If he is as eloquent and diplomatic as he was this week in London, he might start a war.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  2. yositoledi

    As a Israeli I can only tell Americans this... Obama is one if not the most terrible president for Israel in the History of Israel.. where it comes to your own internal policies and your economy I have my own perspective but i will not interfere cause they are your own business...
    If Israel is important to you then don't vote Obama...

    July 28, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • james

      I support Israel, but what have you done for us lately..name something.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Taseko

      I guess I'm voting for Obama then!

      July 28, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Huebert

      why should Israel be important to Americans?

      July 28, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • mklsgl

      Your opinion is the minority opinion: several polls taken recently (Saban, JPost, NYT, et al) show a solid majority (55% – 64%) of Isrealis view President Obama favorably.

      And, as the article states, Romney's trip to Israel is much more about American Evangelical votes than anything else.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Mirthful

      James, you have military technology (including drone technology), medical technology, intelligence, security, hi-tech, biotech, etc. Do more research.

      July 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Tugboat Annie

      You're right, it's none of your business. But don't worry, whoever wins the White House your checks will keep coming.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • canadianscot

      Did he not give you a 70 million dollar gift the other day. As someone else said what have you done for the US to earn this?

      July 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • mickey fisher

      Sounds as if you have been babtisted in proxy by the Mormons. Good luck on your own planet

      July 29, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Flaki Bigos

      Israel is not important to me. Israel can fight their own wars without the United States as their Golem.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  3. ByebyeCNN

    This is why CNN is going away. They do not focus on exposing the Obama administrations mess and only focus on political agenda that may sway gullible voters back into Obamas arms. Lets clean up our country shall we CNN???

    July 28, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  4. 1amazed2u

    Romney needs to come clean with his offshore dealings and show what tax he has paid. So far he has denied those request. And he is calling himself honest? And he wants to be president?

    July 28, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  5. NFLD thought

    He statd his first task was to get a feed of bacon and eggs.

    July 28, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  6. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    July 28, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Huebert

      Would you kindly fcuk the fcuk of.

      July 28, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Ron B

      10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

      9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from a rib, which means we are all inbred from 2 people.

      8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in the "father, son, holy ghost" base of your so called religion.

      7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

      6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life like a zombie, and then ascended into the sky.

      5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

      4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

      3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

      2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

      1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian. ....

      July 28, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Christine

      Sounds like RonB is one of these Jeremiah 11:9

      July 28, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • canadianscot

      Saved from what exactly? When your dead you are dead. Your not going anywhere other than in a hole in the ground or a crematorium.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  7. I'mvotingforObama

    If he is elected, I can't wait until all the racist who voted for him just because they hate the black man in the White House have to send their sons and daughters over to Iran to die, You get what you vote for.

    July 28, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • mickey fisher

      Amen, but don't forget all those tea bag elders who will be losing their Medi-Care, Medi-Cade and Social Security.

      July 29, 2012 at 3:41 am |
  8. hubert39

    Some of us know how the Israeli Jews feel toward Christians the USA. I think they might feel the same way toward a Mormon.
    Israel has been our welfare nation since 1948. All they care about is the aid we give, and fighting their wars for them.
    The bad thing? Not all the Jews in Israel feel this. But it seems like they cannot get elected any longer.

    July 28, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Thinker22

      Do you have any reasons to believe that YOU know better what Israeli Jews feel toward the Christians than the Jews themselves? If so can you tell us what the Palestinians and other Muslims feel about them? (Hint: thousands of Americans were murdered by Muslims and NONE by Jews).

      July 28, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Taseko

      How true!

      July 28, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • mklsgl

      Please list the wars that the US has fought for Israel. As for your welfare state claim, consider that Israel gives back and provides tenfold in relation to what it receives from the US.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Mirthful

      The U.S. never fought a single war for Israel. Did it fight in 1948? 1967? 1973? In Lebanon? Gaza? No.

      Israel started receiving aid in 1973 because the Arab countries attacking Israel were supplied by the Soviet Union.

      And a welfare state? Israel receives only 2% of its GDP in aid and offers the U.S. a tremendous return on investment.

      More people should start doing their homework before opening their moronic mouths and spewing unfounded stupidity.

      July 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  9. ObamaUntil2016

    Hopefully someone will tell Romney not to order the ham and cheese on rye with a glass of milk while he's there

    July 28, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Thinker22

      Romney and anyone else can order anything he/she wants in Israel. Most Israeli Jews are non-religious and Romney is not even a Jew.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  10. JustWho

    Looking for Jewish money.

    July 28, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Thinker22

      Considering that the amount of petrodollars in the disposal of Arabs exceeds by far the wildest dreams of all Jewish moguls combined Romney would have to look for THEIR money in the neighboring Arab states... if, of course, your guess had anything to do with reality.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  11. Reality

    "I think Mitt Romney is going to Israel certainly to court the Jewish vote," said Randall Balmer, the chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College and author of "God in the White House."

    Why as there only 17 million followers of Judaism in the world and most live in Israel. The nitty-gritty: It is about Jewish monetary support for Romney's (and Obama's) election. http://www.pewforum.org/Income-Distribution-Within-US-Religious-Groups.aspx i.e. 46% of the Jewish population in the USA make over $100,000/yr.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Thinker22

      You're badly mistaken here. Most of the 17 million Jews on this planet are NOT RELIGIOUS.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • You are a joke

      Revelation 2:8-11, Matthew 23:29-36

      July 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  12. Flamespeak

    Why do politicians go to Israel for support in a US election in the first place? Always struck me as odd on so many levels.

    Maybe to cater to the Jewish voters in the US? But that is around 2% of the populace, so it doesn't make any sense really.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • damo12345

      Because, as the article says, it's not really about appealing to Jewish Americans, or to people that really give a tinker's cuss about Jewish people. It's about appealing to lunatics that believe there has to be a Jewish state for their mad religious prophecy to come true.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That particular 2% donates a lot more than the average American to political campaigns.

      The article has it right. It is to court Evangelical Protestant voters, not Jews.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Flamespeak

      I've never understood that either, Damo.

      If you are a Christian or other religious faith but believe that Jewish sect is so important or (as I have heard many Christians say) that the Jews are 'God's Chosen People', then why aren't you Jewish?

      July 28, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      2 % maybe, ... check on the $ total.
      It's all about the "promised land". 2500 years later, they are STILL justifying the expansionary land claims, by appealing to a fallacious myth system.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Thinker22

      Politicians go to Israel for several reasons. One of these reasons is the fact that Israel is the closest and the most reliable ally of the US in the Middle East. Another reason is the fact that the US and Israel have common ideals of freedom and democracy. Third is the fact that Israel and the US have common enemies, namely racism and militant Islam.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Mirthful

      Bucky's Balls, that's some expansion! Israel is only 1/5 of 1% of the Middle East, and Jews live on less Middle Eastern land than they did prior to 1948. Ever look at what the Arab and Muslim world looks like? And you keep blubbering about, "Jewish expansion?" Imbecile.

      July 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  13. Phil1`

    Romney continually misrepresents Obama: he says Obama wants to tax the middle class and that he is against small business, both of which run counter to what Obama says. These are blatant lies and the news media never even questions him when he says such untruths. He says Obama wants to make the U.S. into Europe, which is also not true, but this is issue is harder and fuzzier and harder to see it. Now he pretends he would be better at foreign policy, and he makes statements that would lead us into more war and Bush-like really major screw-ups, while Obama has done excellent work, as even the conservative editorialist, David Brooks admits.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  14. Shambler

    So....Mitt is going to Isreal just to shore up support with a group that wouldn't vote for Obama anyway???

    July 27, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Thinker22

      Most Israelis are not American citizens and will not vote for either Obama or Romney. This being said, however, according to the latest poll most American Jews will vote for Obama.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  15. Sam Yaza

    death to Israel, if there is no Israel the is no Christ coming back and if Christ don't come back the world wont end,...help save the world don't support Israel

    July 27, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Dave A.

      No worries Sam.... If Christ came back the repubes would nail him up again.

      July 28, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      damn it i want to do it,...

      July 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  16. Scott

    If Mitt is smart he will keep his mouth shut. How much more damage is he going to do with our international friends, He made a mess of things in England. He is not ready for the International Stage or much less being President, Offshore bank accounts, Hidden Swiss Bank accounts. No wander he won't release his tax returns we would find out just big of a crook he really is. The Republican sure picked a looser this time around, maybe they will wise up in the next election.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Scoto

      There is nobody else in this present day Repbublican party. It's a party of crazies. This is the best they have

      July 28, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Tony

      Scott, you need to get over your jealousy. Fat chance for you atheists.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  17. killaw

    Ah these appalling evangelical nutjobs brainwashed into support of the israeli far-right and warmongers: and these are the people Romney will be pandering for... Pitiful.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • gee

      A waste of US money in a land that will sell us down the road at the first opportunity.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • killaw

      The day you can prove that a prayer change anything just do not hesitate, for then we won't hold our breath.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • cecelia holland

      prayer. not god.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer is talking with God. Lives are changed, history has been changes and the power of prayer has been well doc umented on these blogs as well as in life. God bless

      July 28, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      July 28, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  19. Jack

    Good evening folks. Everyone is invited to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    July 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  20. llɐq ʎʞɔnq

    Maybe he won't be quite so totally inept here, as he proved to be in England. I wish I could vote for someone other than than Drone Strike/Children killer O"Bomba.

    BTW you Catholics, did you know your Vatican Bank is the largest shareholder in the largest munitions industry in the world. How very Christian of them, ...hypocrites.

    July 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Why do you think he'll be any less inept there?

      Hopefully he won't ask them whether they've found any archeological evidence for the lost tribes.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Reality

      "Ashtar Command – Spiritual Community Network: " Someone actually considers this group to have reliable information???

      July 28, 2012 at 12:35 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.