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. jim

    Obama's already told Russia he will be re-elected with the open mic. Romney did his part well making sure Americans didn't have a real representative to elect out Obama.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  2. jim

    The nuclear armed Rothschild money mafia empire, Israel. Look at who built their knesset or supreme court or the country itself.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Thinker22

      WHY don't you reveal us this information?

      July 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Mirthful

      You're armed with racist idiocy.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • jim

      Your hilarious. As if your saying it is untrue will prevent it from being true. It's no secret that anyone can't look up. I love the racist name calling too, hilarious. Oh no.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Joseph

      Jim, those that took over Israel are

      Jeremiah 11:9
      Jeremiah 11:19
      Matthew 12:14
      Matthew 21:38-41
      Matthew 26:3-4
      Matthew 27:1-2
      Mark 3:6
      Acts 18:12
      Acts 23:12-15
      1 Samuel 22:8

      July 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • NO NAME

      Do you realize how crazy you sound. It is all one big Jew conspiracy isn`t it?

      July 29, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  3. easyrhino

    Let's see:

    American citizens are losing their homes their jobs and foregoing medical insurance and the tax dollars of those same citizens $3,000,000,000 + each year are being sent to Israel to support their lifestyle.

    Good plan!

    Why should a drop of jet fuel be burned flying to Israel to curry favor with Israelis?

    July 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • jim

      It's getting $9 billion this year. Straight from Americans losing their homes and infrastructure.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Thinker22

      The Arab countries receive FIVE TIMES more US aid than Israel. Don't you have a problem with it?

      July 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Mirthful

      Try $3 billion a year and we get way more back as a return on investment.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • jim

      Thinker and Mirth are obviously Israeli firsters. Going to be mostly lies and name calling from them. Save it for the sheeple.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Mirthful

      Jim is obviously a clueless imbecile, lying about Israel. If you present facts, the imbecile's best response is, "You're an Israel firster." Well, asshoIe, you're an Israel, "laster," even to the point of lying about Israel and it doesn't belong last, and your lies aren't credible.

      July 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • I'm with Jim

      Revelation 9:21

      Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

      July 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Israelforever

      I don't think Israel needs our money, or the muslim countries. Israel has done just fine throughout history. Empires have come and gone, but the jews endure. Can't say that about the arabs, who kill each other in the name of Allah. What has Romney in common with Israel? Nothing, as a mormon, he's not even considered christian.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • wordsdontmatter

      its been about 7 billion a year since 1979 for the egypt isreal peace treaty...

      its split between Isreal Egypt and Jordon in arms $$ cash transfers that go from US tax coffers thru these countries back to 'private' US arms contractors... so its worse than $$ cash transfer many complain about for the poor and its hardly capitalism and it spreads arms weapons abusing capitalism through false incentives to prop up dictators like mubarak, abusive otherwise weak likud government, and essentially provides them incentive to have lobbyist in DC too from these 3 countries to keep it up.. yeah it sucks all the way around and sounds satanic to me and non enlightenment practices ..so revelation or secular enlightenment calls this crap evil..

      July 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  4. jim

    Great, make him the president of Israel. We don't need this traitor here, he can support the government he supports over America and Americans.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Drew

      Actually, Israel has a prime minister. Way to be a stereotypical American.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • jim

      And a president, way to be a moron for the world to see.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Thinker22

      You have every right NOT TO VOTE for Romney, Jim... If you are an American citizen, of course.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • jim

      LOL vote for Romney, ha. Do you think I'm American? What's your guess lame-o. Obama also proved to be a sellout. Our, not your, last hope is a dead end.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  5. 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 and they are always looking for tax deductions.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Thinker22

      But of course!!! Non-Jewish Americans as well as those making less than $100K a year are NOT INTERESTED in tax deduction at all...

      July 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • jim

      AIPAC should be destroyed and everyone associated with them arrested for crimes against the American people and the infiltration of our government.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • DeFace

      Most live in the U.S.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Thinker22

      It's YOUR fault, "Jim", that AIPAC and everyone else you complain about were not arrested for their crimes yet. WHY did not you bring the evidence of these crimes to the FBI yet? Hiding the evidence of a crime is a crime by itself, by the way...

      July 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Mirthful

      Jews look for tax deductions? What do YOU look for, dumbåss? Ways to pay MORE taxes?

      July 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, a minor correction: The Jewish population in the Israel and the USA. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html

      1 Israel 5,703,700 42.5%
      2 United States 5,275,000 39.3%

      So Romney and Obama's interest in the Jewish vote is not number generated but money and Abrahamic-roots driven.

      But then you have this:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."


      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  6. TheMagusNYC

    Perhaps Mitt could give some unequivocal comments on substantive issues, like right of return, and expansion of settlements, and rights of Palestinians, amounts and types of aid in support of our firm ally, and views on having one's own religious symbol on a national flag.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Thinker22

      I can answer all your questions, my friend. It is NOT POSSIBLE for anyone to "return" to a place he/she never was. You may recall that 98% of the Palestinian Arabs WERE NOT born in Israel and never were Israeli citizens. The remaining 2% of Palestinian Arabs all of whom are at least 64 years old have every right to return to Israel if they'll CONVINCE Israeli immigration authorities that they will become loyal citizens of the Zionist state and will not pose any financial burden on it.

      Regarding the settlements there is no law prohibiting Jews from living in the West Bank but allowing Arabs to live there. Therefore, the Jews have at least as much right to expand their settlements as the Arabs have.

      The rights of Palestinians are determined by the government(s) of countries where they live.

      Amount and type of aid to foreign states is determined by the US Congress.

      Regarding the "one's own religious symbol on a national flag you may ask the governments of Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and some other states all of which have a religious symbol on a national flag Good luck!

      July 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  7. Truther

    Romney, like Obama, is just another bootlicker of the treasonous Israeli lobby which controls the U.S. government. They are bleeding us dry. No poiont in even voting anymore as they pick ALL of the candidates.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • WeKnow

      Jeremiah 11:9
      Jeremiah 11:19
      Matthew 12:14
      Matthew 21:38-41
      Matthew 26:3-4
      Matthew 27:1-2
      Mark 3:6
      Acts 18:12
      Acts 23:12-15
      1 Samuel 22:8

      July 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Reality

      Obviously the Jewish lobby is not the only tax-exempt group lobbying Congress.

      From guidestar.com:

      “The tax-exempt The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has a professional lobbying staff of approximately 528 in 28 offices nationwide, of those , two staff members based in Washington DC devoted 75% of their time, and the other devoted approximately 50% engaged in advocacy on (Congressional) legislative proposals related to federal hate crime laws, global anti-terrorism, the Middle East Peace Process, immigration issues, the use of government money to fund faith-based organizations and counter-terrorism proposals outside Washington, DC.”

      The total revenue for the ADL in 2008 was $59,960,134 mostly coming from contributions and grants.
      The largest of the lobbyists:(note the large sums of money being spent by health "profiteers" on lobbying )

      Lobbying Client Total 1998-2009

      US Chamber of Commerce $606,758,180
      American Medical Assn $220,832,500
      General Electric $196,410,000
      AARP $175,702,064
      American Hospital Assn $174,890,431
      Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $173,403,920
      AT&T Inc $150,471,757
      Northrop Grumman $143,005,253
      Exxon Mobil $138,886,942
      National Assn of Realtors $138,417,380
      Blue Cross/Blue Shield $136,317,077
      Business Roundtable $134,030,000
      Edison Electric Insti-tute $133,995,999
      Verizon Communications $132,534,841
      Lockheed Martin $122,340,423
      Boeing Co $121,528,310
      General Motors $106,914,483
      Southern Co $104,620,694
      Freddie Mac $96,194,048
      Altria Group $93,650,000

      Would the move to end tax exemptions for any group generate the added taxes/contributions needed to pay for universal health care?? No, but it sure would help!!!

      July 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • jim

      The truth, Amen.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Thinker22

      I fully agree, there is no point in voting anymore. Move to Saudi Arabia or North Korea or (even better) hang yourself on the nearest tree...

      July 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  8. Nietodarwin

    Romney is a mormon, and they like to baptize jews who were killed in the holocaust. They say they have stopped, but it still goes on. They say they are no longer polygamous, but it still goes on. ANY CHRISTIAN who votes for this man is sadly uninformed about the mormon "religion" (MORMONISM IS NOT A RELIGION, IT'S A BUSINESS, and a big one.)

    If you are a Christian, look into this "faith" and see what you're going to be voting for.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      All religion is business.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • TheMagusNYC

      Mormonism is explicitly unitarian, viewing Christ as a created spirit being, as such not Christian. Unitarian Christian is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, like Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormon rejection of Christ's eternally Divine nature is shared by all those who consider the deification of Christ to be blasphemy.
      There is no shame in being unitarian or tritnitarian, it's a choice based on faith in one's interpretation of Scripture.
      My rural MN Lutheran sister will vote for a non-Christian on the basis of promise to overturn Roe alone.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  9. steve

    I think he's there to get the latest obit lists of Jews so the Mormons can convert them.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • TheMagusNYC

      Speaking as a loving, respectful Christian, I accept the good intentions of Mormons to seek "salvation" as they view it for all people, and am in no way offended that they have baptized my Prussian Christian ancestors into a faith that denies the eternally divine nature of our savior.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  10. Monica

    We DO NOT need to be supporting Israel.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Ray

      Yea you should be supporting the radical islamists like you did and do in egypt syria tunisia and lybia.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • steve

      Yes we do. They are all that is standing between open training of terrorists throughout the middle east and we are their target. Don't be so foolish to believe that Islam stands for peace. They could have had it years ago but reject all overtures.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • netanyahu


      July 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • netanyahu

      google "10 commandments vs talmud" and see what the joo s really think of xtians.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Rational Libertarian


      The Palestine movement had been largely secular up until the nineties. Being against Israel doesn't necessarily mean you support Hamas or Islamism, and let's face it, the Jewish state has been committing the biggest acts of terrorism against the Palestinians.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • TheMagusNYC

      Also it might not have been a good move of the UN to create the separate Jewish state, we now have special interests in balancing the power in the region, and no politician can be elected opposing those interests.
      Note how the honorable President Jimmy Carter has been demonized for asserting rights of Palestinians, and any critic of Israeli settlement policies is labeled anti-semitic.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • TheMagusNYC

      Also it might not have been a good move of the UN to create the separate Jewish state, we now have special interests in balancing the power in the region, and no politician can be elected opposing those interests.

      July 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Thinker22

      Monica... The US has two options, support Israel or, alternatively, support Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda. You've, obviously, made your choice... Care to explain the reasons?

      July 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  11. kurian Varghese

    I hope this clown keeps his moth shut over in Israel what a fool are this Republicans they have no clue as to how the world is most of themare like the saying in India th frog in the pond there world never grew sick of this people so called concervative christian you know nothing about the Bible either nor any of the techings Jesus preached the first comand is Love your God and only your God no other god see you all love money and wine also love your neighbour you dont like Mexicans nor Canadians so how can you like anybody else foolish republicans

    July 28, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I love money far more than I could ever love a fictional deity.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  12. John

    Try to prove he is more loyal to Israel then Obama?

    July 28, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  13. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    We liberals fully expect Romney to make a fool of himself at every stop on this trip. He is his own worst enemy and his continued gaffes are the best possible gift to us liberals. What a plastic twit this guy is! Obama/Biden 2012!

    July 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      If there's one thing worse than conservatives, it's douchy liberals. Four more years of Obama will create an economic dystopia.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  14. JJ

    Great, now he will prove to another nation he is MITT THE TWIT.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  15. Kori

    His Presidency.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:19 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 11:21 am |
  17. atheism = common sense

    Regarding prayer: If what you are praying for is NOT in God's Great Plan, then your prayers are futile. If what you are praying for IS in God's Great Plan, your prayers are redundant. So why pray? It's all in your silly heads, believers: "God," the usefulness of prayers, salvation or damnation, etc. For Pete's sake! Grow up and see the light of logic and humanism vs. religion! And get up off your knees. You are only debasing yourself. Religion is disgusting, a kind of mental slavery.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      becomes atheism.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • TheMagusNYC

      simply disrespectful to insult theists, atheist having no rational grounds for their faith either.

      July 28, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  18. Jules

    Romney has no idea what is going on, this was just a nice distraction. He does not have the authority to speak for the United States and isn't even cleared for the information that would enable him to speak in an appropriate manner. This is just another dog and pony show. I so much wish for a viable third party...it brings tears to my eyes.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  19. Roscoe Chait

    If Mitt the Twit just keeps his mouth shut, he may do okay in Israel. A word of advice: Mitt, don't insult Israeli food when you are there. And don't say anything stupid, which means don't say anything.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  20. Jules


    July 28, 2012 at 11:14 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.