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."

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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. IDSWIzzard

    You want a God fearing man in the White House and one that adhears to religious beliefs. Question though. Would you alo be willing to let the gornment in your church and house of worship? We are supposed to have seperation of chuch and state, but if it goes one way, why should it go the other?

    July 29, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  2. Reality

    The Big Picture

    • There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    July 29, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  3. TewksburyBob

    Israel is a strong ally. Romney is smart to go visit them. Romney is very religious and his Democrat counterparts are pretty much atheists these days. Do the Obama's even go to church? We are still "One Nation Under God" until the Democrats try to change that too. Now I am not a fan of the Mormon religion but they all seem to be very good people and live their faith better than most Catholics I know. It will be a breath of fresh air to get a God fearing person back in the Whitehouse. I would prefer a Catholic but I will take what I can get these days.

    July 29, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • OneOf

      Ah, the life of bliss!

      July 29, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Louisiana Man

      MR is a fraud..but the gullible continue to eat up his BS by the truckloads..

      MR cares about one thing..his bottom line..he evades paying taxes whilst working Americans struggle to pay their obligatory taxes..

      a true patriot and citizen and American MR is NOT!!!

      July 29, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • joe

      Don't worry...he cant say anything when his foot is always in his mouth!

      July 29, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  4. jmm

    After three and half years, Obama's actions suggest that he's definitely not pro-Israel and I will not be voting for him in 2012. Obama may let Iran obtain nuclear weapons which may be used against Israel in the future. I could not live with myself knowing that by voting for Obama, I aided and abetted in the destruction of the Jewish People. My hands will not be dripping with Jewish blood! Also, can anyone imagine the pressure placed on Israel in an Obama second term without Obama having to answer to the electorate given his actions and behavior in his first term towards Israel ??!! Just close your eyes and think this thought: after Obama's victory in November/2012, Obama's policy of 'nuclear prevention' towards Iran becomes a 'containment policy' towards Iran. Is the fate of Israel and the Jewish People worth this possible risk ?? If not, then the answer is clear on which candidate to support in November/2012.

    July 29, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Broadcasting

      The answer is clear alright: USS LIBERTY

      July 29, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • palusko996769

      The problem is, that you're ASSUMING things, and at the same time, presenting them as facts. I don't know if you have a crystal ball you consult your theories with, but if anyone is in danger of being attacked, it is...Iran. BTW, would you feel better if the blood on your hands would be that of Iranians?

      July 29, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • jim

      crap post

      July 29, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • OneOf

      What a load! More real Americans really die every year from gun-related deaths right here at home, but I'd place a little wager that you are pro gun lobby and yet don't see the blood already dripping from your hands. But you'll chant Liberty! Freedom! What a crock. Besides, only 42% of the worlds Jews live in Israel; 39% live right here in the US. So even if the worst happened and the Iranian kooky president had his way and "wiped Israel off the map", it wouldn't wipe out the Jewish people, thankfully. (The point being that your overly dramatic statements are gross exagerations anyway.)

      July 29, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Ican't-?

      At least let the President clean up the two wars George Bush started before you get us into another one. Republicans talk a good fight but seldom wear the uniform while yelling patriot slogans-Chickenhawks!

      July 29, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  5. Alfredo

    Pathetically slow growth and high unemployment. Those are the main reasons why Romney can win the presidency.

    July 29, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • OneOf

      It's fascinating to hear Republicans continue to blame Obama for the economy when it was a Republican president's policies that put the hole in the US's economic boat, and Republicans like Boehner have ties the president's hands behind his back while he has tried to bail the boat out. And, impossibly, the GOP is offering a candidate who promises to turn the boat back to the heading it was on under Bush – like that's a good thing!

      July 29, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • jim

      Read oneof's post – he completely understands the problem

      July 29, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    July 29, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Kp

      Yes I am sure any minister will offer your child a "private" prayer session. Praise to god now give me your money. Pathetic believers.

      July 29, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  7. OneOf

    Romney has made so many gaffs at this point that a few more will just give the illusion to those who love him that he's consistent. Even though his statements are designed to reveal nothing he still manages to get both shoes into his mouth simultaneously. The hard core anti-Obama folks will never hear anything amiss in Romney's words. He could go to Israel and lambast their concentration camp style of "managing" the Palestinians and his followers would still coo in approval. He doesn't need to court their votes. He should instead be making substantive statements about what he really thinks, and then letting the chips fall where they may. The majority of Americans would have far more respect for such honesty than they currently do for his feeble attempts to not look bad, which shows a deep mistrust of the American voter.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Thinker23

      I have some news for you, bro... The Palestinians are being managed by their own democratically elected governments of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas in the West Bank. Please address all your complaints regarding "concentration camp style", etc. to THEM.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • jim

      "Thinker"23 – blah blah like all your posts

      July 29, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • OneOf

      You can't possibly believe that the political leaders within the Palestinian community have more power over the daily lives of average Palestinians than the Israeli government does. Who controls the gates into and out of the territories? Who metes out all supplies to the territories, which include medical supplies, food, fuel, blankets, clothing, and replacement parts? (Hint: it's not the Palistinian community or its leaders.)

      July 29, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  8. Dink Gerbers

    Even if Abe Lincoln was resurrected and would run against Obama, the Obama supporters would say that Abe is this, that and the other and not worthy of running against their leader. But the fact is that the US economy is in shambles, more people are out of jobs than ever and recovery seems a long way off. Don't you Obama groupies think that maybe a voice of opposition should be heard? Why not Mitt? Surely he could not do much worse than Obama.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • vernon

      Why not Mitt? Because he's a twit.

      July 29, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • luckyone4

      The US is recovering from the worst economic mess since the Great Depression. This is a mess left by the Bush Administration. Romney's answer to it, do more of the same. Tax cuts for the rich don't work, the rich have prospered incredibly the last few years. Tell me, why hasn't the economy floureshed, if the answer is to make the wealth wealther?

      July 29, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • OneOf

      Increasing the offshore savings accounts of the very rich does little to generate jobs here in the US. How can the GOP continually sell this stuff (give the rich more money and jobs will suddenly appear) with a straight face? Without the hate factor, the GOP would have nothing to sell this year at all. But I guess that's pretty typical for them. Other than the right to bear arms, I can't think of many individual-rights issues that the GOP has ever stood behind. They tend to be exclusive rather than inclusive.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Thinker23

      "OneOf"... The "rich" are usually the owners, founders and managers of companies where people work (have jobs). The main purpose of these companies is to MAKE PROFIT (yes, to allow the "rich" to have more money as a result). If it makes financial sense for Americans and foreigners to invest in American companies (and it ONLY makes sense when Americn companies are PROFITABLE) they will invest, the "rich" will have more money and the rest of us will have jobs. If, however, the "rich" are not allowed to make money they will take the money they have elsewhere and so will the investors... and the rest of us will LOSE jobs.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • OneOf

      Thinker, that's all nice in theory,but let me connect the dots for you. You see, the wealthy have never been wealthier; where are the jobs? Their tax rates have never been better; where are the jobs? You buy into the theory that if we just give them a little bit more THEN the jobs will pour forth. It hasn't worked so far, what leads you to conclude that it would suddenly start working now? How is it that Republicans do so well among the uneducated? Well, logic like yours sounds plausible, and sometimes plausible is all you need if you already have hatred on your side.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Ican't-?

      If Mitt would just say what he intends to do as president maybe people would see something to vote for-so far- crickets-and I have hid all my money offhore and covered up all the records or gotten rid of the evidence. Trust him? The truth is coming out about him and it shows a pattern of coverups.

      July 29, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  9. James

    Twit Romney should wait until he is elected fair and square by the supreme court, before he starts a war. His magic underwear doesn't protect him, because it leaves his head exposed. Perhaps he should stuff a spare pair in his mouth.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  10. mcskadittle

    wait for it, he can't help himself

    July 29, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  11. Jt_flyer

    GW Bush II. Everything he speaks he'll embarrass us.

    July 29, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Thinker22

      Well, if you feel embarrassed by the Presidential candidate of THIS country you're free to move to a country where such embarrassment can not happen.

      July 29, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • bob tower

      Unless you're an American...

      July 29, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Marsally

      thinker – what are you thinking. "America, love it or leave it?" We left that kind of thinking behind in the 60s. Didn't we? Wait a minute – tea party, right?

      July 29, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Thinker23

      Marsally... Let me say it again: If you don't like it or feel "embarrassed" in the country you currently live you're free to move to a country you like better. Is it clear enough now?

      July 29, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  12. luckyone4

    If I apply for a job at...let say staples, they will run a credit check on me. Why is that Mitt Romney thinks he's better then the "you people" of this great country. Republicans and Democrats alike have a great interest in demanding his tax returns before the national convention in Tampa (love ya Tampa) Aug 27th. If Mitt has been doing what most of us think, and it comes out after the convention it will be as if we only have 1 candidate running for the Presidency. I ask that you include this statement on any post you make "SHOW ME THE MONEY" in hopes that it goes viral. It will be as if we have our own super pac, representing our interests. Maybe the average Joe will start to get some answers. As they say in Missouri (the show me state) Don't p on me and tell me it's raining out. This is not meant to be partisan (I hate politics as usual) but rather protecting all our intrests. If you are sick of all the do nothing, say anything politicians, join our super pac. "Don't p on me and tell me it's raining out because my bull$h1# meter is going off the charts Americans for our kids future super pac." ( I know it's a long name but it's funny and how we all feel) and remember "SHOW ME THE MONEY" I'm sick and tired and I approve this message.

    July 29, 2012 at 6:14 am |
    • joe

      Show me his college work, show me how Obama as a public servant 10 years ago makes 7 million in one year??? All hidden deary. All hidden. When asked to show her taxes Pelosi shut up about seeing Romney's and so did every other person who asked to see Romney's taxes.

      July 29, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • Thinker22

      luckyone4... "If I apply for a job at...let say staples, they will run a credit check on me."

      ...but will Staples disclose the result of YOUR credit check to ME?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • Marsally

      thinker – if he's running for president of the US – then yes!

      July 29, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • luckyone4

      Thinker you didn't put much thought into your reply. We will be his employer. Get it?

      July 29, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Thinker23

      Marsally and luckyone... Is Romney OBLIGATED BY LAW to disclose his financial records to you? If he IS then he is violating the law and you have every right to sue him. If, however, he is NOT obligated by law to disclose his financial records then you have no reasons to complain.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Thinker23

      Marsally and luckyone... Is Romney OBLIGATED BY LAW to disclose his financial records to you? If he IS then he is violating the law and you have every right to sue him. If, however, he is NOT obligated by law to disclose his financial records then you have no reasons to complain...

      July 29, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  13. john


    July 29, 2012 at 5:40 am |
  14. Bob Ramos

    There are three legs of this trip. The first leg (England) was a PR disaster and the second and third ones will be too. Someone will ask Romney the capital of Israel and whatever answer is wrong so he will give one and the gaffes start all over again.

    July 29, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • joe

      "You didn't build that". Obama to ALL small business owners. Problem – It wasn't a gaffe. Obama meant what he said.


      July 29, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • Thinker22

      The capital of Israel is Jerusalem. Even five-year-old know it. Do you have any reasons to believe that Mitt Romney who is a well educated adult does not know this basic fact? On the other hand... Do YOU know the capital of Israel?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Mirosal

      Thinker.. are you amrter than a 5-year old? Apparently not ... try Tel-Aviv

      July 29, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Mirosal

      Dsamned typos ... THINKER... ask a 5 year old... because Jeruselem is probably the only city in Israel they have ever heard of. Look up the city of Tel-Aviv ... what does it say?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Thinker23

      Mirosal... The city of Tel Aviv? Yes there is such city in Israel. There are other cities there as well. Haifa, Ashdod, Askelon, Ber Sheba, Eilat and many oters. This being said, however, Jerusalem is the city where the government and the Parliament of Israel are located. Jerusalem (and ONLY Jerusalem) is the capital of Israel.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  15. 0rangeW3dge

    "The Mormon interpretation of "the curse of Cain", or the curse of black skin that befell Cain's descendants, is not the same as the "mark of Cain" set upon Cain himself by God." – – Wikipedia

    July 29, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • joe

      Wikipedia as a source!!! Ahahahaha. Did you write that yourself?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  16. sigmond seamonster

    Romney and Obama should be going to areas of America that need help and support instead.

    July 29, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • Thinker22

      I'm sure that when YOU will run for President you will go to those areas.

      July 29, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Sacmar

      I agree 100%., sigmond. We need to ba more concerned about our people than others.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  17. 0rangeW3dge

    I'm still confounded,, Why, if there are no white people in the Bible is it a best seller in the white man's library? It's NOT their heritage by any stretch of history, it it the story of the Semites and yet the Aryans have absconded the book and try to exterminate the very people that wrote it (about themselves).

    July 29, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Dave A.

      Good point Orange... Also. I bet no Jews in Romney's country club. Bank on it!

      July 29, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • john

      because some idiot decided long ago to attach the jewish bible to the christian bible even though the morality in both books is 180% opposite.....

      July 29, 2012 at 5:42 am |
    • Thinker22

      Did someone tell you that Abraham, Moses, Jesus were BLACK?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Thinker22

      John... The morality of the Jewish Bible is defined by the Ten Commandments. Are you sure that the morality of the Christian Bible is "180% opposite"?

      July 29, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  18. Tom Fox

    Christians United for Israel does not consider end times theology to be "urban myth," however reassuring that bit of spin may sound to outsiders. Brog is a tool.

    July 29, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  19. jonny boy

    well. the buffoon Ronmey made a fool of himself in the UK (mitt the twit) he will probably do the same in UK. I feel sorry for the robot man.

    July 29, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  20. Randy Johnson

    Wow – first London – now Israel. It's almost like its like he thinks he has won the election already. If so it is yours to lose now Mitt and so far you are doing a good job. As silly as it may seem just let your yappy wife do all the talking. At least it prevents you from putting both feet in your mouth at the same time!

    July 29, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • joe

      "You didn't build that".

      July 29, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Sacmar

      Joe, Obama did not say people did not build their business. Go to YouTube and look at the video. I just did and that's not what was said. Educate yourself before saying things. As for Romney, I don't trust him at all. There's something about that guy that I can't quite put my finger on.

      July 29, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Clint

      Mitt the Mormon Twit wants closer ties to Israel... holy cow Fatman... any closer will make Israel another state in the US of A. Ok, so I'm jealous.... Canajun donchaknow. 1812 was a very very good year. Drum roll please... best wishes to our Yankee buds, and hope you have another entertaining election. Here now is Michael Buffer with the intro....

      July 29, 2012 at 8:44 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.