NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, December 4, 2015, 7:22 PM
Donald Trump addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at a candidate forum Thursday.
Donald Trump led a field of faux pas at an awkward presidential candidate forum for the Republican Jewish Coalition Thursday.
The GOP frontrunner stoked outrage among Jews both in attendance and in Israel with his comments about money and foreign policy at the event. His speech played out as only a sampling of the strange moments from the event, though.
“I’m a negotiator — like you folks,” Trump said. Later in the speech, he asked, “Is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
The audience booed when Trump wouldn’t commit to Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, which he argued would hurt his negotiating position in the Middle East. Nervous laughs could be heard when the real estate developer and celebrity-turned candidate mentioned campaign donations, The Washington Post reported.
“You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money,” Trump said. “Isn’t it crazy?”
He added, “You want to control your own politician.”
The comments touched a nerve with former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer.
“Trump to the Republican Jewish Coalition: ‘You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.’ What the hell does that mean?” Fleischer Tweeted.
The Times of Israel headlined its coverage of the speech with “Trump courts Republican Jews with offensive stereotypes.” The newspaper quoted Marc Zell, the head of Israel’s Republican party, dismissing Trump.
“The voters understand that to lead the United States, you need a person who knows more than how to sell products, with all due respect to Donald Trump, and everything he has achieved in his career,” Zell said. “In my opinion, he cannot be president of the United States.”
Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called Trump’s remark about money “cringe-worthy” while writing that the event “showed his potential vulnerability when cornered on serious issues.” Some members of the audience told her they weren’t offended and reminded Rubin that Trump’s wife and daughter are Jewish. Yet one unidentified member of the crowd couldn’t conceal disgust.
“I threw up in my mouth so many times I need a mint,” the audience member told Rubin. “Trump will probably sell mints. We Jews are good at buying things.”
Republican candidate Ben Carson struggled to pronounce the name of the terror group Hamas, calling it “hummus.”
Trump’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night. He Tweeted that he had “won” the event and received the “only FULL standing O.” The Anti-Defamation League, a group that advocates against anti-Semitism worldwide, released a statement from CEO Jonathan Greenblatt saying ADL members don’t think Trump evoked stereotypes on purpose.
Sen. Lindsey Graham completed his speech without any apparent blunders but stumbled off the podium after he delivered it.
Greenblatt noted the organization had criticized comments by Trump before but pointed out that he has used his line about not needing any donations throughout his campaign.
“We do not believe he intended his comments regarding negotiations and money to relate specifically to their Jewishness, but we understand that they could be interpreted that way,” Greenblatt said. “We encourage him to clarify that this was not his intention, and that he rejects the traditional stereotypes about Jews and money.”
Trump’s remarks drew the most attention, yet they weren’t the only head-scratching moments from the event, which featured 13 different candidates.
Ben Carson struggled with the pronunciation of the terrorist group Hamas, maybe out of hunger. He called Hamas “Hummus.” Former Virginia governor and longshot candidate Jim Gilmore must have crammed on the Holocaust ahead of the event. He said, “Last night I was watching ‘Schindler’s List.’ Everybody here has seen ‘Schindler’s List.'”
Sen. Lindsey Graham stumbled down from the podium after his speech. And at least Ohio Governor John Kasich offered a positive note. He said his mother had told him to love the Jews.
“My mother told me one time, she said, ‘Johnny’ — when I was a very young man — she said, ‘Johnny, if you want to look for a really good friend, get somebody who’s Jewish.’ And you know why she said that? She said, ‘no matter what happens to you, your friend, your Jewish friend will stick by your side and fight right with you and stand by you.'”
With News Wire Services
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