Romney, Obama spar over U.S.-Israel relations

Mitt Romney’s stumbles over the nation’s “special relationship” with Great Britain aside, it’s the American relationship with Israel that’s fueling a lot of the fire this week between the presidential campaigns.

Romney will be in Israel on Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Kadima Party Leader Shaul Mofaz, and Labor Party Leaders Shelly Yachimovich and Isaac Herzog. The Republican candidate, speaking this past Tuesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Reno, had trashed President Obama’s treatment of Israel.

Romney at VFW (James Glover-Reuters)“President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem,” Romney said. “The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.”

Romney’s campaign also Tuesday issued a policy paper saying he would make Israel the destination of his first foreign trip as president; within 100 days of taking office, reaffirm as a vital U.S. national interest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state; work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge and increase military assistance; reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, while making clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations is unacceptable; and reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas.

Vice President Joe Biden shot back that same day.

“Governor Romney continues his long litany of untruths about our administration’s policies toward Israel. We’ve provided record levels of security assistance, funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system that intercepted nearly 80 percent of the rockets recently fired from Gaza, close collaboration on longer range missile defense systems, the largest joint military exercises in history, the most consistent and comprehensive exchanges ever between our top political, defense, security and intelligence officials,” Biden said. “And, contrary to Governor Romney’s outrageous accusation that the President joined in the chorus of insults levied against Israel at the United Nations, President Obama has stood up repeatedly, publicly and often alone against efforts to delegitimize Israel at the U.N. and around the world.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Updated info: California’s presidential ‘bundlers’

The Center for Responsive Politics has updated its list of President Obama’s campaign “bundlers,” those who gather other people’s donations and deliver them to the campaign en masse. Here’s the list for California, down to the $100,000 mark:

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg, Los Angeles – CEO, DreamWorks Animation – $2,329,092
  • Wayne Jordan, Piedmont – Jordan Real Estate Investments – $1,359,953
  • Sandi Thompson, Woodside – Attorney, wife of former Symantec CEO John Thompson – $891,556
  • Geoffrey Stack, Corona Del Mar – Managing Director, SARES•REGIS Group – $687,453
  • Colleen Bell, Los Angeles – Bell-Phillip TV Productions – $460,500
  • Marc Benioff, San Francisco – CEO, salesforce.com – $451,980
  • Robert Mailer Anderson & Nicola Miner, San Francisco – author; Oracle heiress – $396,450
  • Becky Draper, San Francisco – venture capital heiress – $359,642
  • Mai Lassiter, Los Angeles – wife of film producer James Lassiter – $350,837
  • John Emerson, Los Angeles – president, Capital Group Private Client Services – $319,695
  • Doug Hickey, San Francisco – President & CEO, GlobalCenter – $314,100
  • Brian Lee, Los Angeles – co-founder, Legalzoom.com – $299,800
  • Kathy Levinson, Los Altos – managing director, Golden Seeds – $202,150
  • Massi Joseph Kiani, Laguna Niguel – CEO & chairman, Masimo Corp. – $200,980
  • Mattie McFadden-Lawson, Los Angeles – president, MML Design Group – $165,680
  • Janet Keller, Laguna Beach – political consultant – $162,550
  • Imaad Zuberi, Arcadia – partner, Avenue Ventures – $139,023
  • Shefali Razdan Duggal, San Francisco – National Finance Committee member, Obama for America – $130,957
  • Azita Raji, Belvedere – National Finance Committee vice-chair, Obama for America – $130,322
  • The center notes that Federal Election Commission regulations only require disclosure of funds bundled by registered lobbyists. In 2008, both Barack Obama and John McCain agreed to disclose any bundlers who raised over $50,000 for their campaigns. Obama’s re-election campaign is again disclosing those bundlers for the 2012 election, but Mitt Romney’s has refused.

    So all we know is that 34 registered lobbyists have bundled a total of $5,250,506 for Romney’s presidential campaign; none of them are from California.


    The report from Mitt Romney’s SF fundraiser

    I’ve just filed my pool report from San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. Here it is, verbatim:

    Romney entered the Fairmont Hotel’s Gold room at 5:32 p.m. to a cheering, standing ovation. About 250 attendees had been sipping drinks and noshing on shrimp cocktails.

    Boyd Smith of Palo Alto – real estate development and investment mogul, a former Mormon stake president, and finance chairman for Romney’s campaign in
    California – before introducing Romney called for a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Aurora, Colo., massacre and their families. He said America is at one of its most important moments, in “a war of ideas, a war of philosophy – it’s a war that can be won however, by using that analogy, if Mitt Romney is our general. … I consider myself, and am proud to be a foot-soldier. I ask you to join me.”

    Romney began speaking at 5:38 p.m.

    “Our hearts are with the many people who’ve lost loved ones in Colorado,” he said, adding President Obama’s visit to Aurora was entirely appropriate and promising to deliver less partisan remarks today given the nation’s mourning.

    “We turn to a power greater than our own to understand purpose and if not to understand at least to be able to soothe the wounds of those who have been so seriously hurt,” he said.

    Romney noted a gathering in the audience of Gold Star and Blue Star families – those who’ve lost relatives in military service, and those who have relatives currently serving, respectively. He had them stand, and they were given applause. Romney noted “the great sense of unity that comes in this country as we recognize those who serve our country.”

    Romney told a story from his time as governor, of going to Boston’s airport to meet a servicemember’s casket as it was returned from a battlefield; people lined up several deep at the airport’s windows. “Every single person had a hand on their heart” and expressions of appreciation on their faces, he said.

    Turning to the economy, Romney said “these are tough times and even people working are having real tough times trying to make ends meet.” Consumer confidence is down, and economic growth is sluggish, he said.

    Why run for president when things are so tough? “The answer is: I think I can fix it.”

    “I’ve had the unusual experience in my life of working in places that were troubled,” he said, from a struggling company to a floundering Salt Lake City Olympics, to a troubled state as governor.

    “Boy, somebody’s got to do something for California,” he said, earning laughter and applause. “California’s got to make a couple of tough decisions; the right leadership would make a difference here.”

    “We are a hard working energetic patriotic risk-taking entrepreneurial people,” he said, praising those who strive to work or seek more education to get better jobs; he told several anecdotes about people who’ve built their own business in lawn-mowing, upholstery and other fields. “There is that entrepreneurialism in the American spirit which if tapped will allow us to reboot our economy, and soon.”

    To do so, Romney said he would “take advantage of our energy resources … this is our ace in the hole.” America has “massive new resources, both in oil and gas” which must be tapped, he said. “We have energy in massive amounts,” he said, citing an article he saw that said “America can be the largest energy producer in the world.”

    Second, Romney said, he would pursue more foreign trade, which he said “puts more Americans to work in higher-paying jobs.”

    “Number three, you’ve got to finally balance our budget, you can’t keep spending more money than you take it,” Romney said, adding “real leadership” in Congress and the White House would immediately end any talk of America being in decline.

    He said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has spoken of building human capital as well as financial capital in order to strengthen the economy, but that can’t be accomplished if schools are underperforming. Romney singled out Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, California’s 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee – who got a brief standing ovation – to report from the back of the room that California ranks toward the bottom of the nation in academic performance.

    “That’s got to change, and that’s number four in my plan to get America working again,” he said.

    And fifth, he said, “We have restore economic freedom in this country.” The founding fathers knew freedom comes from God, not government, and that freedom includes life and liberty – protected by our servicemembers – as well as the pursuit of happiness, the opportunity to pursue our own dreams. “This is a free land.”

    Romney said he was with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – rumored to be on his short list of potential vice presidential running mates – the other day, discussing what it was like to be an immigrant family in Florida, an embrace of the American dream of working hard and taking risks to attain one’s dreams.

    “I love this country, I love America, I love the principles on which America was founded, I want to restore those principles,” he said, noting 23 million people are out of work or have stopped looking. “These are real human beings, our fellow citizens. … We need to put them back to work.”

    “I’m going to get the job done. I’m going to do it. We’re going to do it together,” he said, as the crowd rose to its feet in applause.

    He said former British prime minister Tony Blair told him that what the world fears most is a weak America. “American strength is the best ally peace has ever known,” Romney said.

    America has a duty to hold aloft a torch of freedom and opportunity, he said, and as the “Greatest Generation” of World War II fades away, it’s up to use to take up that torch.

    “This is the time for us to step forward and take that torch,” he said.

    Romney concluded his remarks at 6:07 p.m.


    CBS’ Schieffer objects to Romney campaign’s ad

    The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched this ad yesterday:


    Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent and anchor of “Face the Nation” – and the first face you see in Romney’s ad – said yesterday he’s not amused.

    “Obviously, I have no connection with the Romney campaign. This was done without our permission. It comes as a total surprise to me,” he said on his show yesterday. “That was a question that I posed to David Axelrod, the president’s campaign manager. I wasn’t stating something there. I was asking somebody else a question.”

    Actually, it appears this was a question that Schieffer had posed to former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during the May 27 show. He did, however, ask similar questions of Axelrod one week later.

    I’m not a big fan of journalists’ words being taken out of context to score political points – but then again, Schieffer did choose to pose that question using those words. What are your thoughts?


    A bunch of links on something that won’t happen

    Boy, Matt Drudge really got the political media world buzzing with his unsubstantiated rumor that Condoleezza Rice is on Mitt Romney’s short list of potential running mates.

    She lives and works here in the Bay Area, so we had to do a story. But here’s some of what other people are saying:

    “Bull shiitake mushrooms.” – Erick Erickson, RedState

    “It’s not going to happen.” – Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

    “Zero chance.” – Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle

    “As trial balloons go, this was a fairly transparent one.” – Michael D. Shear, New York Times

    “Likely answer? It’s not happening.” – Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times

    “I’m not seeing any group of voters that she would automatically attract.” – Katrina Trinko, National Review Online

    “Unqualified.” – Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, via Politico

    “Condoleezza Rice would be a wonderful vice-president.” – Sarah Palin on CNN, via the Washington Examiner


    Romney, Obama and lots of protesters

    Bay Area residents can expect a double-whammy of presidential fundraising, and a bevy of protests to go along with it.

    Shortly after news broke of President Barack Obama’s fundraising trip to Piedmont and Oakland on Monday, July 23, invitations surfaced for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s events in Woodside and San Francisco on Sunday, July 22.

    And protesters will be sure to flock to both.

    In fact, a call for protesters to stage outside the president’s 4:30 p.m. event at the Fox Theater on Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue went forth Thursday on the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center’s website.

    “I hope you’ll be able to come out, so we can give our President a real East Bay unwelcome, and let him know we’re not happy that he does not have our backs when the big banks foreclose our homes, corporations are allowed to pollute and leave brown fields behind, neighborhood schools are being closed, the police kill people of color with no accountability, OPD kicks the s— out of peaceful protesters, and the feds are raiding our cannabis clubs,” the post said. “The time is now. This is our big chance.”

    All $100 and $250 seats for the Fox Theater event have sold out already; VIP seating tickets remain at $1,000, or $7,500 for event-sponsor status including admission to a photo reception; sponsors can then bring additional guests to the photo reception for $2,500 each.

    The president also is scheduled to attend a $35,800-a-head dinner reception starting at 4:15 p.m. at the Piedmont home of progressive activist/attorney Quinn Delaney & her husband, real estate developer Wayne Jordan; Jordan is among Obama’s foremost “bundlers.”

    And the president earlier that day will hold a roundtable for tech leaders — also at $35,800 per person — at an East Bay location yet to be disclosed.

    But Romney will be in the Bay Area sooner, with three events scheduled for the day before the president’s visit.

    Romney will have a $50,000-a-head luncheon at the Woodside home of Tom Siebel, founder of C3 and Siebel Systems. Among those scheduled to attend: former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman; Sun Microsystems cofounder Scott McNealy; and Howard Leach, the former U.S. ambassador to France.

    Then Romney heads for a 4:45 p.m. event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, with tickets ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Former San Francisco Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan will be among the hosts there.

    Romney will cap the day with a 6:30 p.m. dinner in Pacific Heights hosted by Shaklee Corp. chairman and CEO Roger Barnett, with a $50,000-a-head price tag.

    And might Romney, while he’s here, announce the Bay Area’s own former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate, as the Drudge Report predicted Thursday? Well, you never know. But RedState’s Erick Erickson says “bull shiitake mushrooms” to that.