Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Blog

The GOP presidential field is filling in nicely. Seven contenders have either officially announced their candidacy or have established exploratory committees. Declared candidates include Herman Cain (CEO of Godfather’s Pizza), Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty.  In June, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romey, and Rick Santorum are expected to announce their candidacies (in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, respectively). John Huntsman, Roy Moore, and Buddy Roemer have launched exploratory committees, and Huntsman is expected to announce his decision soon. Texas Governor Rick Perry has said that he will consider seeking the Presidential nomination, and NY Congressman Peter King, best known for convening the February hearings on homegrown radicalization of Islam, has said that he’ll run if there’s broad enough GOP support for his candidacy — and has recently been sending constituents e-mails with links to press speculation about his intention to run in 2012.

Sara Palin hasn’t announced her intentions, but she did come in second to Romney in a recent Gallup poll of GOP preferences. This is the update of the field since Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Mitch Daniels declared they would not run. The sole Arab American in the list of possible contenders, Daniels announced his decision not to run on May 22, although there is speculation that he may yet be in the race as a running mate.

AAI is already beginning to track what these candidates and contenders are saying on our issues. Several had some choice words following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent visit (see below). If these are any indication, we should see some interesting debates on Middle East policy in the next 18 months.

Michele Bachman spent an untold amount on a Google ad announcing that President Obama had “betrayed Israel” and declaring that “it is now very clear Barack Obama simply does not support one of America's closest allies.”

Businessman Herman Cain made clear his stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict when he said he would offer the Palestinians “nothing” and that he is “not convinced the Palestinians are really interested in peace.”

John Huntsman, Obama’s former Ambassador to China, stated “"If you respect Israel, we probably ought to ask what they think is best."

Peter King criticized President Obama for going “out of his way to be rude” to Netanyahu during his White House visit.

Ron Paul said "Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs. There can only be peace in the region if those sides work out their differences among one another. We should respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate her policy from Washington."

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said "The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided… At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and presumed front-runner for the Republican nomination, claimed Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus” and had “disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.”

Rick Santorum, noted for his statement that "Radical Islam is extending its tentacles from Africa to America," said faulted the Obama Administration for  “fostering the overthrow of our allies in Egypt."

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