By Manny Behar
I hear the laments wherever I go. The choice of Presidential candidates gets worse with each election. We are headed for a new low with the impending general election showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There are good reasons to be concerned.
Hillary Clinton’s record of support for Israel is mixed at best. She was an early proponent of a Palestinian state, kissed Mrs. Arafat after she had accused Israelis of poisoning wells, supported the Iran deal, and served as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. Bill Clinton’s relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu was almost as bad as President Obama’s. Beyond that, there is the question of the paid speeches and large contributions by foreign governments and special interests to the Clinton Foundation. The Torah tells us, “Bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts words that are just.” Rashi explains that when good people take money, they cannot help but be influenced by it. While Hillary Clinton may never have promised anything in return for the millions of dollars in speaking fees and contributions, it is impossible to believe that she will not be influenced by them.
Donald Trump has proclaimed himself a “neutral guy” when it comes to the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. His insults against Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, and women have insulted more than half the population and will make it impossible for him to govern effectively. In particular, his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States is the perfect recruiting slogan for ISIS and other jihadist groups.
Some of the alternatives do not inspire much confidence either. Bernie Sanders, who would be the first Jewish president, has consistently run away from the legacy. He has made a point of his father being a refugee from Poland. He is the first candidate in recent memory to decline an invitation to the AIPAC convention and has accused Israel of killing 10,000 innocent civilians in a “disproportionate response” to rocket attacks from Gaza. He personifies the term “self-hating Jew.”
Ted Cruz has a solid record on two issues of great importance to us. In his standard stump speech, he says that he “will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel” and that he “will never compromise away your religious freedom.” But his record in the Senate is one of a grandstander. His attempt to shut down the government over the funding of Obamacare won him applause from the faithful but antagonized almost all his colleagues and most of the public while making the goal of actually repealing Obamacare harder than ever to achieve. Successful presidents are the ones who work with others to achieve principled compromise, accomplishing what we can now, and bringing us closer to our goals. Ted Cruz’s record as a senator indicates that he is unlikely to even attempt, let alone, actually achieve, principled compromises.
There is only one candidate who can win the general election, who has a proven track record of achievement, who has demonstrated the skills necessary to be a successful president, and is rock solid on the issues of concern to our community. That candidate is John Kasich
But we need not despair. There is a candidate with a proven track record who is worthy of our support.
As chairman of the House Budget Committee, John Kasich was the architect of the only balanced Federal government budgets since 1969. This achievement is even more significant, because it was achieved in cooperation with Bill Clinton and demonstrates his ability to work effectively across the aisle. It is safe to say that neither Bill Clinton nor John Kasich was completely happy with the budget that was adopted. But by both giving where they could, and standing firm where they had to, they achieved an important national goal. For the only time in our generation, the Federal government actually balanced its books and started paying down the national debt.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, John Kasich worked closely with Ronald Reagan to rebuild the military. In a poll of national security and foreign policy experts, 70% of them rated John Kasich as the Republican candidate most capable of facing the serious national security challenges that confront us.
As Governor of Ohio, John Kasich turned an $8 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus, cut taxes more than any governor in the nation, and created more than 300,000 jobs, making Ohio the leading job-growth state in the nation. And he did it while making sure that Ohio did not turn its back on people in need.
This is the kind of leadership we need in Washington.
John Kasich has an unwavering record of support for Israel. On his first trip to Israel, he met Avital Sharansky. He was so impressed that he organized the first rally for Sharansky at the US Capitol. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee he wrote the legislation to provide the original funding for the Arrow/Iron Dome anti-missile program, which is so crucial to Israel’s defense, and was a strong supporter of the Phantom 2000 Program, which guaranteed Israel’s air superiority. His first visit to the floor of Congress after leaving the House of Representatives was to show his support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Governor Kasich is unrelenting in his opposition to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has called for the suspension of the Iran deal in response to Iran’s test of ballistic missiles, which had “Israel must be exterminated” imprinted in Hebrew on them, and has pledged to lead the world community in putting sanctions back on Iran “if it violates one crossed “t” or one dotted “i” of the nuclear deal.
Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and John Kasich recognizes that. He has said that there will be no more “delusional agreements” with the enemies of America and Israel. He will work to stop Iran’s aggression, to interdict the supply of weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah, and to defeat ISIS.
As a long-term expert on national security issues, John Kasich recognizes the recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis for what they are – “part of a culture of death that the Palestinian Authority and its forbears have promoted for over 50 years.”
John Kasich has been a proven friend of Israel for more than 35 years. When he says that he will work to “strengthen and expand” on the legacy of America’s support for Israel, we can count on it.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism on college campuses is another issue of concern, and he has pledged to use the full force of the White House to fight this scourge.
When it comes to protecting our religious freedom, Governor Kasich has said clearly that when a florist refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the couple should “find another florist, not go to court.”
Until this point, media coverage of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination has focused outrageous statements, insults, and personal attacks between the candidates. John Kasich has refused to go down that path, saying he “will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.” As the field of candidates has narrowed, John Kasich is getting more attention and his message is starting to resonate. Polls show that while both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would lose the election to Hillary Clinton, John Kasich would win by a significant margin.
There is a strong possibility that there will no first ballot nominee at the Republican convention. With our support, John Kasich can come to the convention with the momentum of victories in the later primaries and polls showing that he is the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton.
The choice on April 19 is clear. There is only one candidate for President this year who can win the general election, who has a proven track record of achievement, who has demonstrated the skills necessary to be a successful president, and is rock solid on the issues of concern to our community. That candidate is John Kasich.