And this year’s top administration speaker at the AIPAC policy conference will be… Vice President Joe Biden.
You thought the Swine flu remarks were bad… you may recall the back in August, in a conference call with the Jewish media that was clearly aimed at trying to boost then-candidate Obama’s standing among Jews, newly named running-mate Joe Biden went off message to take a few swipes at AIPAC, suggesting that the organization isn’t always as smart as it thinks it is when it comes to understanding the ways to get things done in the U.S. Senate.
"AIPAC does not speak for the entire American Jewish community," Biden said. "There’s other organizations as strong and as consequential." Biden quickly added that his disagreements with AIPAC are always tactical, never about the big picture. Still, it’s not the boilerplate stuff that you usually get from senators when you ask about the pro-Israel lobby.
In the to-be-fair department…
1) The verbal jab seemed to be the product of a misunderstanding. JTA’s Ron Kampeas had asked him about the Republican Jewish Coalition’s efforts to highlight times when he broke with AIPAC on specific issues; but Biden apparently missed that it was RJC voicing criticism, not AIPAC.
2) Obama campaign spokeswoman Wendy Morigi quickly came out with this attempt to put out the fire: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden have both enjoyed close and effective cooperation with AIPAC over many years, grounded in their respect for its important mission to support Israel’s security and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. That is a mission they share, and they look forward to continuing to work closely with AIPAC on their common goals."
3) Biden and AIPAC officials had a kiss-and-makeup meeting a few weeks later.
So… what will Biden say Tuesday morning to thousands of AIPAC delegates in the "go gettem" speech before they head off for a day of lobbying on the Hill?
As I noted the other day, there is a debate unfolding about whether AIPAC’s push for tougher Iran sanctions — a cornerstone of AIPAC’s legislative agenda — is aimed at undercutting the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran or just what the president ordered back in his campaign days (or both). It’ll be interesting to see if he offers any sort of support or criticism for the specific legislation now being considered, or just gives more of a generic pro-Israel, pro-AIPAC and anti-Iran speech.