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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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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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

soundoff (761 Responses)
  1. korkea aika

    Making Mitt Romney President is like making an alcoholic the bartender.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  2. korkea aika

    I support Mitt Romney for President of China. Maybe from there he could outsource some of our jobs back to the USA. Yeah!

    July 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  3. Diversity

    Sounds like all religion is bs! It's good to believe God as the source of all goodness in this wonderful world, a supreme being to thank everyday for these exciting experiences of mortality we each have. Of all these religions don't you think one must be right? I live my religion after I understand it fully well. I hear a lot of negative and rediculous comments about my religion but honestly I can tell those people that bigotry, ignorance, hate, racism and other negative human behavior is their driving force. Knowing right from wrong is a trait to master but it should start from doing right.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • chubby rain

      All religions cannot be true, but they can all be false.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Julie

    Between Obama and Romney, I choose Romney for so many reasons, hands down he has my vote. Israel should embrace Romney as those of us who support him are totally with Israel – And I don't think Jesus will come back – I know He will come back – I feel so sad for those who cannot understand or so blind they cannot see.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • saywaaat

      i am king of confused.are you voting for the president of the United States or the doorman for the king david hotel???

      July 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • korkea aika

      I also support Romney for President of Israel. Maybe from there he could outsource some jobs to the good old USA, and you might get one. Good luck!

      July 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  5. saywaaat

    is he running to become the president of the United States or israel??? imagine ,flying thousands of miles to smooch the behinds of foreigners to help you become the president of the United States.wooooow just woooow.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  6. Obama Is the Greatest Ever

    I can hear Mitt the Twit now: "Can I have one of those beanies when I go to your Great Wall? And why do they call it the Whaling Wall, it is not close to the ocean."

    July 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  7. Stan

    Romney and Obama are always on their knees, sucking the Ziioonnisst coocck when it comes to Israel. Israel ask for billions of dollars in aid, no problem, they ask for the newest most powerful weapons subsidized by the US taxpayer, no problem, they ask for unequivocal support for their apartheid system, no problem. The amount of the power the Ziionnisst wield in Washington is sickening. They got our first black president supporting apartheid, what the fuucckk.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Thinker23

      It's time for yoour medicines, bro...

      July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Stan

      No real reply, just a dumb "insult", which i knew would happen because their is no way justify why we give so much to Israel for nothing in return, except that their lobbies run our government when it comes to foreign policy

      July 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • korkea aika

      Stan: you make a point. Israel and the NRA, you just can't touch 'em. Your post is crude. If you want to make your point, remind people of what happened to our Baptist President Jimmy Carter when we wrote a book and criticized our uneven hand toward the israel/palestine conflict. And if you don't know about that, google it. Good luck

      July 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  8. Stan

    they wont even post my reply

    July 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Whey would... if you had something making sense to say.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  9. mike

    Lets all await The Rapture what a load of bunk we have some real loonies in this country. ext they will be doing the Jones thing and killing themselves etc etc.It is amazing to me how gullible and igonorant people can be sometimes

    July 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • korkea aika

      i'm always shocked how people who claim to believe in G-d are so looking to get outta here. And how they are not interested in the awesome nature all around, or in natural conception where a sperm enters an ovum, instead looking for heaven and virgin births. I'm awestruck by my surroundings. Don't wanna exit on a cloud or in a rapture. I'll trust goodness for goodness sake and let them get all hysterical about the rapture and other miracles so they don't get bored with their G-d and His creation. hahahaha

      July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • saywaaat

      rapture happens each time i eat bean burritos.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      i'm always shocked how people who claim to believe in G-d are so looking to get outta here. And how they are not interested in the awesome nature all around, or in natural conception where a sperm enters an ovum, instead looking for heaven and virgin births. I'm awestruck by my surroundings. Don't wanna exit on a cloud or in a rapture. I'll trust goodness for goodness sake and let them get all hysterical about the rapture and other miracles so they don't get bored with their G-d and His creation. hahahaha

      if you agree with the following you may be a Pagan

      July 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      and yes atheist can be a pagan to you don't need to believe in a god or goddess just, awestruck in nature will do, that's Gaia
      nature is wondrous in its complexity truly more worthy of worship then a warmongering God

      July 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  10. korkea aika

    The State of Israel has written a formal letter of complaint to the Mormon Church leaders in Salt Lake City, where Romney is a 'life time member'. Israel has respectfully requested Mormons from refraining from the obnoxious practice of Baptism for the Dead, where converted Jews to Mormonism 'stand in' for dead relatives, vicariously baptising faithful jews who have died into the Mormon faith. Not only does this action negate 'free will' which judeo-christian traditions are based on, it is intentionally hurtful to new converts who cannot bring their whole families into the Mormon heaven. I personally don't want to go there anyway. But would come back and haunt anyone who tried to force me into Mormonism, even after death. Israelis and Jews are not stupid. We know that Romney is a fake, just as his religion is a hurtful myth.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Thinker23

      WHY don't you SHOW THE LETTER writen by the State of Israel itself?

      July 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. sayquitter

    I would reject any politician who feels the need to travel half way around the world to k!$$ @$$. The elections are right here in this coutnry and he should explain to us what is he going to do that would be better for us the working classes than what pres. Obama is already doing.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. Mcshannon

    Before Bush left office he had passed legislation that Israel would recieve 30 billion spread over the next ten years. Consequently 3 + billion dollars is due Israel each year unless there is legislation to the contrary.

    July 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  13. sayquitter

    I would reject any politician who feels the need to travel half way around the world to k!SS A$$. The elections are right here in this coutry, and he should explain to us what he's going to do that would be better for the working classes than what pres. Obama is doing.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Thinker23

      "I would reject any politician who feels the need to travel half way around the world to k!SS A$$."

      In this case, pres. Obama is the first whom you should reject.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. W.G.

    Romney´s policies and ideas so mirror "W" Bush even his antics in England were an embarrasment to our country
    and he isn´t even pres. . so now he´s on his way to Israel . Hey , Israel , sorry about that . If you want you can
    keep him . Please ?

    July 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What I find appalling is that in the two years that Mitt Romney has been on the campaign trail, he is yet to put before the American people, an economic plan than is different than the economic policies of GWB. That is ludicrous! Haven't you right wingers been paying attention to Romney's economic plan? Mitt Romney said he would grow the economy by "lowering taxes and lifting regulations." Well I'm afraid that alone won't do the trick Mitt Robme! And Mitt can manipulate, exploit, brainwash and mislead the right but democrats aint that dumb! Let's face it, lowering taxes andl ifting regulations aren't going to grow the economy and put Americans back to work because the economic situation is affected by alot of relative factors. Under GWB's leadership, the 1%ers got lucrative tax breaks and plus there were NO corporate regulations in place, yet we didn't end up with a stable and thriving American economy. No, instead we ended up with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Hypocrisy! And what about the 8 million Americans still unemployed? How are lower taxes and lifting regulations going to help them find a job in a changing job market? There are still millions of available jobs in America today but not enough skilled workers because half of the unemployed are unskilled workers. I'm glad President Obama has already adressed this situation by advocating, funding and supporting educational and vocational programs for the unemployed to learn a new trade where they can re-educate and retool themselves to find work in a changing job market. Mitt Romney, you don't know diddly squat!

    July 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • korkea aika

      If Romney wanted to get the ball rolling on JOBS JOBS JOBS he would visit China (where he sent ours), India and Brazil where the economies are still growing. UK (deep in recession), Israel (a political bomb) and Poland (birthplace of the last popular pope) tells you what he's about. Deep politics of smoke screen. Obama is not perfect but he's got my vote in 2012.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  16. 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 3:34 pm |
    • zometimer

      spam

      July 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      I get the feeling you're a Keanu Reeves fan.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • korkea aika

      If Jesus is the biggest concept of G-d you can think of, then that's ok. But to call Jesus 'G-d' is like calling earth 'the universe'.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  17. ChristardMingle.com

    I had a friend a few years ago that worked for Tyson Chicken and he said it was the most frightening experience in his life. They force the employees to listen to evangelicals on their break times and at lunch and they make everyone take pop quizzes about bible pa.s.sages. Part of his goals for earning a good review and perhaps a raise was to lead his department in prayer and heal the sick. The worst part was the ceremonial chicken dances. All employees are made to strip naked and rub each other down with chicken blood and dance by fire-light while the executives form a drum circle and have a circle jerk. Sad, really sad.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of the San Diego Padres mascot, the San Diego Chicken. Classic!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • zometimer

      chik-a-filla!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • pervert alert

      Qu eers the people who gave the world AIDS. No one buys your bull sh it, except other qu eers. The 99 % of the world that is normal has no use for you.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      They stole that ritual from the Freemasons.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Ricke1949

      Slander is evil. Repent

      July 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Mormonism and other world religions explained

    Here is a useful video when navigating world religions.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX_R-V5Cws&w=640&h=360]

    July 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • zometimer

      true story bro!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  19. HeavenSent

    Satan impregnated Eve with Cain. If you read Jesus' truth you would know that. I know you atheists to be fools.Christians are on these articles to ensure Jesus Christ's truth is posted. I smell like spoiled milk. You athiests should start your walk with Jesus and stop being blinded by satan's lies. Here is a test from God. Do you have what it takes to pass? Jesus' truth stands for eternity.

    Amen.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • zometimer

      more spam

      July 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      You smell like spoiled milk?

      July 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    July 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • zometimer

      yawn

      July 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Obama enjoys almost a 40 point margin among the American Jewish population. Better start praying now and don't stop until the election. Otherwise, if Obama gets elected, it's YOUR FAULT, because prayer changes things. Get praying, damnit.

      July 28, 2012 at 4:04 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.