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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. David in Florida

    Romney is a Mormon. The Mormons, over the objections of every Jewish organization, 3 or 4 months ago the Mormon Church proclaimed that they had "baptized" all of the Jewish Holocaust dead as Mormons. That action by the Mormon Church is beyond disgusting. It insults the memory of all of those Jewish victims who were murdered solely based on the fact that they were Jews. Romney has not disavowed that action by the Mormon Church. How can a Jew possibly vote for a Mormon?

    July 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  2. no

    Okay I thought it odd that Christ Jesus gave a indegiouness native of the America's Golden Tablets that the late Joesph Smith said they were written in Eygptian Reformed Heiroglytic's and only a certain Angel Moroni knew who to read them . Now he is in Israel and does anyone there know how to read reformed Eygptian Heiroglyptics?

    July 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  3. Sampson Simpson

    Anyone who has catered a bar mitzah can sympathize with Iran's views on Israel.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Tom. Tom, the Piper's Son

    Is it really surprising that non-Christian Mitt should go to no-Christian Israel to garner support from American Jews and American pro-Israel quislings? What a patriot Mitt is!

    July 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not my post. Troll, get a life and a name of your own.

      July 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Aden

      Tom etc. is obviously positioning for a run for high orifice.

      July 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      @aden
      The pig stealing will have to hushed up. God bless

      July 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Meli

      I would invite you to research his beliefs, and even go to a Church meeting so you can find out for yourself whether we are Christians or not,,,

      July 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I would posit that just lyin is unfit not only for public office but for the right to vote, since the imbecile obviously isn't of sound mind.

      July 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  5. Satan

    Christians ignore Jesus

    Christians are Liars

    Jesus made a number of very clear statements about money and wealth in the Bible. For example:

    Matthew 6:19
    Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    Luke 14:33
    Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

    Matthew 6:24
    No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money.

    Matthew 19:21-24
    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Matthew 19:28-29
    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

    Luke 9:23-25
    Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

    Matt 13: 22
    The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

    Hebrews 13:5
    Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

    Phil 2:3
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

    Acts 2:44-45
    All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

    The message is clear. If you want to follow Jesus, you need to “sell your possessions and give to the poor.” It is a very simple message, and easy to do. Have you done it? The fact that you are reading this page would indicate that you have not. Chances are you own a computer, pay for an Internet connection every month, live in a home or apartment, have a car, etc. In other words, you live a life at a level of wealth unimaginable in Jesus’ time. Meanwhile, billions of people on the planet live in startling, abject poverty.

    Why don’t you sell everything and follow Jesus, as he requests in the Bible? The reason is simple: Jesus and God are imaginary, and you know it. If Jesus were real, you would do what he says.

    July 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • PAUL

      THE EVIL THAT IS WITHIN US ALL!!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw_zVjLhzcU&w=640&h=360]

      July 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  6. Reality

    Dear Mitt,

    And now in the 21st century:

    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.

    Added details available for the asking–

    July 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  7. antihacker101

    ALIGNMENT of MIND, BODY, and HOLY SPIRIT(elements)

    Its time to align with one another and stop worrying about judgements through expectations(human nature).
    We have to learn what WORD OF GOD really means and how beliefs really work.

    I will start off by saying that in order to see, We have to set down our RIGID beliefs and teach our beliefs how to grow(like from a child to adulthood)(that next step).

    If you protect yourself from evil(as a perfect example) by defending your beliefs(false prophet for example),
    then not only do you make evil stronger(by puting up defenses)(through blocks),
    but your beliefs wont allow you to grow and you will never find what you seek(we will always get our validations to our inner programming through our own limited structures). Our truths build themselves around our mental tools(from our soul(inner self)) through expectations(created pre-anylitical assumptions(processes started at birth)).

    One trick is to become aware that we all share the same MIND(god). We all have the ability to communicate through
    FEELINGs that we project as (WORD)PHYSICAL EVENTs(everyone is connected at a physical level(through elements))(WORD).
    As we shape the concept of free will for example, the concepts shape US(added to belief structures).

    The data is all around us. Our experiences become WORD(MIND as phsyical events). Our feelings show direction....
    and our purpose(unconsious most of the time) becomes truth...

    if you want to see a memory, then look at the stars and planets(they follow the same physical laws as memorys).
    The physical world is the BODY which we all share from mind(everyones truths(focus) and UN-truths(unfocus)).
    Our truths( that shapes our experiences) are lived and ever changing. The events(we experience) become WORD(misinterpered as ink in a book).

    Of what i learned, and if i go by what i say and believe, I could still fall into a trap of rejection through conflicting truths through other
    portions of self(other people(human HEART)). If you find your purpose and others reject what you represent, then that tells us something about
    ourselves(as a whole).... Think of it as TIME telling us how much we rejected our being since birth(and even before). Its now time to RE-ALIGN.
    That means that everyone(feelings from human heart) on the planet has to find similaritys in beliefs and truths() instead of using beliefs and truth to reject all other
    portions of SELF(creating many religions)....
    Our thoughts and memorys are the experiences(in physical form) that we live.

    Our mind(everyone connected(god)) allows us to electromagetically(and chemically) connect with our surroundings using frequency and rate
    to communicate with the elements that make us whole.
    We all share the same physical body which is the reflection of god(mind). Our expectations(source of judgements) become our experiences..
    This is why its important NOT TO JUDGE others(unless thy choose to judge thyself).

    Life is created through purpose(infinity amount of energy). Any god only represents MIND(purpose(space) and direction(time)).....(attraction)
    Our coding is in an invisible field that i would call an emotional cloud(source of feelings)(THROUGH MIND). That cloud(eachother as probabilitys) represents OUR inner programming that affects all physical matter for everyone(miracles).

    If we project revengful(anger and hate) thoughts on eachother(always someone elses fault), then those thoughts always come back to the creator(karma)...
    that means that if we are angry at the world, then we power terrorist and give them strength while claiming to be PURE OF HEART(while creating evil and deny responsibility). We feed on eachother's feelings(creating physical events(physical laws of GOD(MIND(living our own expectations seperately througth our own concepts)).

    the trick is to find the connections and take responsibilitys for ALL of our physical(good and bad) events. Its easier to fall to the loss of the connection that we share(as a whole) than to know that the source of our own pains come from SELF(everyone)...

    July 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  8. dscon

    “I’ll take the Mormon over the Moron"

    July 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  9. Vietnam Vet

    The repubs would rather give corperate welfare to big oil than help vets keep their benefits.Especially peaople like me who lost both their legs in vietnam fighting for our countrywhile Mitt Ran to France like a coward to pass out books of Mormon and passing out free Mormon Magical Underwear to aspiring cultists.Romney akes me sick being a draft dodger when many good men died and he bailed on us like a typical privileged rich boy..........Romney Show us your taxes ,or are you a coward to show them just like you were a coward when you were called for service in Vietnam. Mitt and his party have a lot of nerve to try and take benefits away from vets,or tell them they deserve and what they dont deserve when they hapily defend rich fatcats who never did a damm thing for this country other than take advantage of the middleclass....... What a sicko Cultist COWARD

    July 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • DRAKE MALLARD

      From Draft Dodging to War Mongering Mitt Romney is George W. Bush

      Mitt Romney was in favour of the war in Vietnam, but was too chicken to
      fight in it. He had his little pro war sign, and was happy to see
      other people be sent and get killed, but wouldn't go himself

      like father like son

      while the middle and lower class of America sent their sons and daughters off to war during the past 10 years…. a war started by Republicans…. NOT EVEN ONE of these 5 Romney son’s (all who were of military service age) served their nation during that time frame. No, not even one!

      Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and now Romney along with the rest of the Republican CHICKENHAWKS never have a problem sending other people's children to war

      July 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Mike500

      Say what you will about a religious deferment, but Republicans serve at a rate much higher than their percentage of the population and Democrats serve at a rate much lower than their percentage of the population. Independents serve at about the same percentage as their percentage of the population. So when you look at who is pulling their weight overall, Republicans do more than their fair share, Democrats don't.

      July 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • KATHY minneapolis

      My heart truly goes out to you, i can feel your pain in every word. I think it's a da** shame the way vets are like through away people, after they serve their country. So very sad.

      July 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  10. truth be told

    Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation.

    July 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • alien

      God has nothing to do with it. Remember those famous words from Bmitch Mc connell the gop's NUMBER1 goal is to make President Obama a one term prez. What a pitiful thing to say.

      July 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • truth be told

      God has everything to do with it.

      July 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • phoodphite

      I see religious zombies everywhere. They just don't know they are religious zombies. They can appear to function like normal people, but they SO easily programmed into thinking whatever you want them to think, it's not even funny. And really, it's not funny since there are too many of them. So it's really a political thing – this programming of one another's minds.

      July 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  11. jason

    Jews are the wisest people on earth unless backed into a corner Israelis never elect some one as stupid like GWB. I respect their right to defend themselves but they should defend themselves and we should assist them omnly assist not fight for them.Jews believe in surgical strikes alike they did with Idi Amin and target Hamass terrorists regularly. Jews understand the importance of financial prowess and teach their kids well. To hate them for that is insane. Even the arabs respect the jewish strength. Robmey is just another conman I seriously doubt the jews would fall for him. For the right amount he will have bain recreate the nazi gas chambers in the same way as he gets rid of dead fetuses and profits from it

    July 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    July 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • 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 30, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  13. Dontae

    I'm ready to here his point on Israel

    July 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Kenjitheman

      Apparently you didnt "hear" that lesson in school spelling. What else do you want to "here"?

      July 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  14. Mitt the Twit

    Beware of mormons bearing white flags and promise of safe passage! Mountain Meadow, Utah

    July 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin

    Looks like Romney is willing to step up and take on uniting many. The future does look bright if he gets in office.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • jason

      The prime reason behind the Mormon apathy to others is that most believe they have to face gods justice for their deeds but mormons believe that they will be GOD. What kind of sociopath would fire workers for Christmas?
      you got it right Robmey! the future does looooookkkkk very bright

      July 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  16. retief1954

    Like most of the little shows Romney puts on, this one is laughable. Read his public statements. He's not saying anything different than the President has already said dozens of times with respect to Israel and America's commitment to it. This whole Republican fairy tale that the President doesn't support Israel, its right to exist, and its right to defend itself, is a canard. Why do Republican candidates always feel the need to swagger in and start making dark threats? Do they think the Iranians haven't already made the calculations about what would happen if they somehow decided to use a nuclear weapon (if they succeed in completing its development)?

    Allied leaders don't need to be like boyhood chums up in the treehouse with a sign on the door saying "girls not allowed". They need to be calm, reasoned, and clear-eyed about their mutual interests and the geopolitical challenges that surround them.

    The last Republican POTUS and his VP, you'll recall, took America's military into an ill-fated adventure in Iraq that wasn't necessary, and from which, ten years and trillions of dollars later (not to mention thousands of servicemens' lives and many times that number of casualties) America is still trying to extricate itself. No WAY should another very similar Republican be handed the power to make the same hasty, uninformed decision in the Middle East again. All you conservative, masculinity-challenged forum posters out there – this is not about "having balls" or any other male shortcomings with which you may be preoccupied. It's not the school playground, although that's how your politicians and presidential nominees seem to regard it.

    Every time I hear Romney speak or see him with that faux-pious, faux-gravitas countenance, I want to run for the shower.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  17. k kim

    True christians embrace the Great Commission and go out to preach the gospel of the kingdom to everyone including the Jews. Mormons and many evangelicals only seek converts to their own church.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  18. Learn about mormonism

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z4iaUFSkME&w=640&h=360]

    July 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  19. Mitt the Twit

    No harm can come to me. I am protected by my magic mormon underpants.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Derek

    It is interesting that American Evangelicals care more about the country of Israel than American Jews. I guess it goes to show that American Evangelicals tend to be more gullible than their American Jewish counterparts.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
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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.