In what’s sure to draw fire from Democrats and Barack Obama’s campaign, the Republican Jewish Coalition unveiled two tough new ads sure to evoke strong emotions, not to mention controversy.
Under the headline, “Concerned about Barack Obama? You should be,” the ads shown below feature a series of pictures of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, other Muslim leaders and protesters burning an Israeli flag.
The text quotes Obama telling an audience that “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela…don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.” The ad notes Obama’s willingness to hold direct talks with nations such as Iran, though Obama has said that doesn’t mean options including the use of force would be off the table. It also cited his opposition to legislation designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist entity.
Another ad says “History has shown that a naive and weak foreign policy has resulted in tragic outcomes for the Jewish people” and claims Obama “surrounds himself with anti-Israel advisors…”
UPDATE: Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, responded: “Because Republicans Jews are intellectually brain dead, the only thing they know how to do is fear and negativity. They have nothing positive to say about their candidate.”
He went on to compared the RJC’s tactics of taking text out of context to bolster their political arguments to the tactics employed by the former KGB.
“It’s hard to imagine that somebody would have no shame to distort a record the way the RJC does,” Forman said.
Responding to some of the specifics of the charges, Forman noted that Obama made clear he supported targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, but opposed the Kyl-Lieberman legislation along with other Democrats, who feared it would be interpreted by the Bush administration as a blank check to invade Iran.
Forman downplayed the impact of the ads, noting that GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is “the perfect example of inexperience in foreign policy.”
NJDC plans to unveil its own ads as early as this week.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks responds with the following statement:
“Rather than engaging in name calling and ad hominem attacks which Mr. Forman does, I would simply point out that all the points in our ads are undisputed facts and are all listed with citations. I invite people to look for themselves and judge if in fact we are taking things out of context. Or is Mr. Forman trying to deflect attention from the reality of the situation – compared to most Democratic candidates, Barack Obama is underperforming among Jewish voters. Every poll reflects that many Jewish voters have doubts and concerns about Barack Obama.”
Here are the two new ads from the Republican Jewish Coalition:
With a recent U.S. intelligence report concluding that Iran has likely halted its nuclear weapons program, the Democratic candidates wasted little time before attacking the Bush administration over its handling of the Iranian nuclear issue — and decrying the president’s response to the report.
The L.A. Times reports on what the candidates said on the matter during a national Public Radio debate:
Senator Hillary Clinton:
I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing’s changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. We do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect. I think that is an important lesson.
Senator Joseph Biden:
It was like watching a rerun of his statements on Iraq five years earlier. Iran is not a nuclear threat to the United States of America. Iran should be dealt with directly, with the rest of the world at our side. But we’ve made it more difficult now, because who is going to trust us?
What I believe is that this president, who, just a few weeks ago, was talking about World War III, he, the vice president, the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. We know that they’ve prepared contingency plans for a military attack.
Senator Barack Obama:
What I’ve been consistent about was that this saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq, a war I opposed, and that we needed to oppose George Bush again. We can’t keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, knowing the ways in which they manipulate intelligence.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich:
When people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric. What I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mindset that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.
According to Newsday, Edwards and Senator Chris Dodd both ripped Hillary for backing a resolution in Congress calling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
“This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we’re in a global war on terror,” Edwards said.
Dodd said that Clinton’s vote “specifically eliminated any option except the military one.”
Clinton, however, said that the resolution caused Iran to reduce its actions in Iraq. “”I think we’ve actually seen the positive effects of having labeled them a terrorist organization,” she said.
Dodd also said that he’s buying his kids Christmas toys from Iowa.
The Giuliani campaign is clearly reveling in being attacked by none other than Jimmy Carter on CNN last night. Carter – proving once again that he has zero intention of going quietly into the night – called Giuliani “foolish” for his contention the United States should be open to using force against Iran.
By this morning the Giuliani campaign was emailing around choice snippets from Carter’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, under the subject hearing, “In Case You Were Weren’t Clear That Rudy Is The Right Man To Keep Us On Offense In The Terrorists War On Us.”
Clearly, Carter’s barbs (like when he said the GOP contenders are “competing with each other to appeal to the ultra-right-wing, war-mongering element in our country,”) are only music to the ears of the GOP field. Carter acknowledged as much when he declined to tell Blitzer which Republican he fears the most.
“If I condemn one of them, it might escalate him to the top position in the Republican ranks,” Carter said.
As much as the Republicans love (to hate) Carter, the Democratic frontrunners are clearly going to spend the race hating (having to pretend to not hate) him.
Carter told CNN he disagreed with positions taken by Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have declined to promise to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq over the following four years if elected president next year.
Given the influence of the Israel lobby — the most powerful in the country, according to Carter — he is not convinced that another president would be willing to do what he considers necessary to bring peace to Israel-Palestine.
“Can the next president say that Palestinian rights need to be protected?” he asked. “Can the next president say that settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace? I don’t know.”
With a new, new book out – “Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease and Building Hope” (Simon & Schuster) – Carter is, by his own admission, on another book tour that feels “like being on the campaign trail.”
The question, down the road, is how will his potential criticism of Clinton and Obama play? It may make them seem trustworthy and mainstream to average Americans, but it may also help galvanize critics in the Democratic base.
The Israel Project took to Capitol Hill toady to launch its petition against Iran’s nuclear bomb. The initial invitation to the event stated that “all presidential candidates have been invited to speak” but none of them showed up in person. Barack Obama sent a staffer with a statement and the rest just emailed in their own. Actually, not all of them. Republican front runners Rudy Giuliani and John McCain didn’t even send a note, but their views on Iran are probably well known by now. The statements are strikingly similar: we will not agree to a nuclear Iran, if elected we will make sure they don’t get a bomb, we support divestment from Iran. Naturally, some are tougher than others -Newt Gingrich went all the way with the Ahmadinejad = Hitler comparison, while John Edwards, for example, spoke about “carrots and sticks” when dealing with Tehran. Some politicians did make it personally to the event: Democrats Brad Sherman, Eliot Engel and Republicans Jon Porter and Mark Kirk. They are probably less busy these days than their campaigning colleagues.
“The reporting has the potential of jeopardizing our national security,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “Stated quite plainly, it has the potential of affecting human life. We may never know.”
He said he did not support censorship, but that “the media has a responsibility to police itself.”
Senator Barack Obama has introduced The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007, a measure that would, according to this report, “authorize state and local governments and private fund-managers to divest assets for companies that invest over $20 million in Iran’s energy sector, which the U.S. government would publish in a list every six months.” The companion version in the House was introduced by two Democrats, Barney Frank and Tom Lantos, the respectives chairs of the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees.
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