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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. The Head Toucher

    Mormons are really into group intercourse. Men on men, if you catch my drift.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Dennis

      How long were you a Mormon?

      July 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  2. Steve

    Romney is an elitist. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but that's what he is. He has been running for POTUS for 5 years and he's still maintaining off shore accounts. That's called hedging your patriotic bet. He tries to be "one of the guys" (I was afraid I was going to get a pink slip) but he never will be. He won't release his Tax Returns because this will move him further away from the average citizen and he won't be forthcoming about Bain because it will do the same.
    Now. How can someone who hedges his patriotism and has offshore accounts for tax purposes fairly compose a tax system that appropriate to the average citizens income?

    July 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • no nothing

      But he can waive a magic and make everything better, and that is what America needs, right?

      July 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Dennis

      He won't release his taxes because he didn't pay any.

      July 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  3. nolimits3333

    Does anyone really want Mitt Romney answering the phone in the White House at 3 am???

    July 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  4. liberalandproud

    I wish that most of you out there would learn to spell and use basic English sentence structure before you write on these blogs. It would make reading your inane messages a little easier to read if not accepted.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Super Shocker

      Thank you!! You are a bona fide genius. Under Confucianism, you would be considered a Gentleman Scholar. Please write more posts. They are extremely insightful pertaining to the enigma that is life. Thank you, oh brilliant Master!

      July 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  5. TamarS

    this will be very interesting to watch what romney makes a mess iof next. voting for him would be to repeat GH and GW Bush and the mentality and economic mess they created. GW pushed for the tax breaks that resulted in the mess we are in – in spite of having been advised it would happen. romney is equally self-serving.

    July 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  6. Rob

    Will he backpedal in baptizing dead Jews? He is after all a sort of Mormon priest, right?

    July 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Gideon Asche

      They baptized Anne Frank a couple of months ago.

      Just another sick expression of the Mormon cults desire for control and children

      It would not make any difference to a Jew if he did backtrack on cult baptism. The anti-Semite side of the Mormon Cult is well known and we do not easily forgive.

      I have a hard time believing any minority would even consider a Mormons just based on the Mormon teaching that only whites are human.
      Non-whites could not even be part of the cult until the 70’s when the feds offered to pull the cult’s tax exempt status

      July 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    prayer changes things .

    July 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Dennis

      Which religion? I don't want to waste any time.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      There is only one God and thousands of idols. Seek God. God bless

      July 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • no nothing

      so say you. To pray on the week minded.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • truth be told

      Are you talking week as in seven days or weak as in lacking strength. You give the impression of being less than a rocket scientist in communication.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Dennis

      @just sayin...So Mormon is the correct religion?

      July 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5QqEmBi8iw&w=640&h=360]

      July 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  8. Dennis

    This is a good fund raiser event in Israel

    July 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  9. southernwonder

    obama is totally wrong in gifting away 70mils to israel. romney is wrong in chasing theological inanities. israel must be treated no different than any other ally nation if and when we must cross that bridge. where would we be if our president must chase votes of every ethnic goup in usa? he would be going around the earth most part of the year. put an end to this theo nonsense.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Mirthful

      Are the Arab countries going to treat Israel just like any other U.S. ally nation? No? Until then, Israel should be treated differently.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Gideon Asche

      Israel isn't just any ally, our revolution was mostly paid for by Jews,
      (uncle sam has his foundation in historical truth).

      consider Gen 12:3

      July 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • southernwonder

      we already _are_ helping israel resolve dispute with arabs. there is doing just fine and dandy. obama is off base in giving away taxpayers' 70mils.

      July 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  10. Kat

    So all politicians seeking higher offices go to Israel to seek its blessing and declare their unquestionable loyalty and support....just goes to show that America is not goverened in DC, it is in Tel Aviv...and who said Jewish lobbies do not have overt influence in America....how many unnecessary wars and terror should we endure for Israel's interests?

    July 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Mirthful

      We haven't had ANY wars for Israel, dingdong. And if you bail out on your friends because a bunch of radicals terrorize you into no longer being friends, you're not a good friend.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Kat

      It's pretty-much a "have to do it" if one wants to be elected. The Christians see the Jews as playing an important part in the 'end times.'

      That's just 'one' of the reasons they do it.

      Peace...

      July 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Kat

      with "friends" like israel who needs enemies...dump israel

      July 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Mirthful

      With imbeciles like Kat on the planet, the average human IQ has been dragged all the way down to 100.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • NoWarForIsrael

      This needs to stop immediately. Our government is taken hostage.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  11. HeavenSent

    All hail Moroni, bring us your children and we will service then good.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • heavenSent

      Phony heavenSent you just steal my handle to spew your lies and deny jesus's truth. I eat out of my diaper. Stop following the ways of your father satan if you don't want your fat drippings to feed your own personal worm in hell for all eternity.

      Amen.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      But I want that tight little hole, joseph smith says " if it has hair around it it has already spoiled", we mormons want it to taste like peeeeeee! weeeeeeeeeeeee

      July 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • heavensent

      Nooooo it is you who stole my handle I'm the real mormon.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  12. harpo

    The more-men cult is no different than the Jehovah’s witlesses and Mooners, heavens door, or the Jimmy Dean cult all have a true false prophet who claimed to have an old revelation, (too bad they didn't read the first chapter of the last one) and had enough of a healthy mind that they needed to figure out a way to remove water sports as part of the cult!

    8th day subtractventist ignore the scriptures, they have a different disease but they are christards. Morons are no more christarn than been laiden was. And this a.s.s-slapping erect Jews and claiming them a poormens is an insult to any unreasonable person. But please worry, Cresentroll will never allow an anti-Semen in the whyhouse.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  13. ChristardMingle.com

    The mormon cult is no different than the Jehovahs witnesses and Moonies, heavens gate, or the Jime jones cult all have a false prophet who claimed to have a new revelation, (too bad they didn't read the last chapter of the first one) and had enough af a sick mind that they needed to figure out a way to make Pedophelia part of the cult.

    7th day adventist adhere to the scriptures, they have a different interprertation but they are christian. Mormons are no more christin than bin laden was. And this baptizing dead Jews and claiming thenm a mormons is an insult to any reasonable person. Not to worry, Israel will never allow an anti-Semite in the whitehouse.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  14. Mr Mister

    ONE WEEK BEFORE KENNEDY CARRIED OUT HIS THREAT OF SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL, HE GOT SHOT DEAD.

    WHEN BILL CLINTON CHOSE TO BE MORE EVEN HANDED IN THE MIDDLE EAST PROCESS AND WAS ACCUSED OF FAVORING THE PALESTINIANS, A JEWISH WOMAN (MONICA LEWINSKY) SEDUCES HIM.

    NO WONDER AMERICAN POLITICIANS ARE SCARED. IF OBAMA WERE TO GO AGAINST ISRAEL, HIS KENYAN BIRTH CERTIFICATE WILL MAGICALLY APPEAR.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      As long as the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl the Jews don't win.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • iSpew

      I tend to not agree with that crap about the thing, but looking up to find some of it.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Mr Mister

      Looks like someone may be guilty here of several..."Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc" fallacies.

      Yikes !!!! 😯

      Peace...

      July 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Mirthful

      Basically, what I got out of all that was, "Idiocy in Caps."

      July 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The morning of JFK's asas'sination, the sun came up.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • NoWarForIsrael

      They're a leach to our government. They're sucking the life/money right out of it.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  15. iSpew

    Ok, seriously though. I do think that of it on the grounds that he could consider it a wise if not uneasy choice to not have to make. Therefore, it stands that Mitt is on the path to celebrate and I think it is good manners too. So let's step forward on this back track and look to the East. It is not time but stepping up to the platter will be ideal and needs to be grounded in facts or not.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Steve

    I've always wondered how many jews are in the US? Can they make a difference in terms of vote count?

    July 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • iSpew

      Steve, I don't know if they can count for sure but I heard they could.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Gideon Asche

      Actually Steve one of the things to consider is that the Jewish population is not only numerous, we are spread out and as a general rule have enough money to donate and get involved.

      No president has ever been elected if Israel voiced opposition and every president that Israel has openly supported has been elected.

      The fact is that 90% of us will vote with Israel and Netanyahu makes a point to mention his support for Obama every time he speaks.
      Every Hebrew newspaper in the world has run recent stories about the fact Netanyahu considers Obama the best friend Israel has ever had. Even Adleson dropped his support of the GOP when Israel voiced support for Obama.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  17. HeavenSent Blog

    Welcome HeavenSent Thrill Seekers! Wow, what a great job you are doing. Thank YOU for making this HeavenSent event a huge success! Our HeavenSent engineers are working around the clock to make your HeavenSent experience the best ever.

    Stay Carnal!

    July 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  18. PAUL

    WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN!

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

    July 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      @paul

      Jesus told us to send r-apists and murderers back to Him. I stink like cat food. Atheists lie when they talk about freedom of speech. I know because Scotty ran off all the Christians from the other site he oversaw.

      Amen.

      July 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Fruffy the Gerbil of Doom,went to the Far East, looling for Bippy

      Mr. Paul. Please knock this off. You obviously have a 1" weenie, and are obsessed with this crap. Everyone, hit abuse.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  19. Meat Wad

    Arise chicken! (Everybody do it) Arise!

    July 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  20. I am Intern

    Chicken arise! Arise chicken arise!

    July 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
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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.