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Romney, Paul, Sununu

 At the Forward, JJ Goldberg makes the case that Mitt Romney as a weak first and Ron Paul as a strong second add up to bad news for pro-Israel Republicans.

His reasoning: For Romney to keep Paul from bolting and launching a third-party bid — all but guaranteeing Romney’s loss to President Obama — he needs to defer to some of Paul’s positions.

Romney already has said he would vote Paul if he were the candidate. 

Now that’s hardly a deference to Paul on policy.

And should it come to such a deference, Romney could conceivably nod to Paul policies that have nothing to do with Israel — smaller government, for instance, or bringing troops home.

But JJ detects something a little ominous in Romney’s alliance in New Hampshire with former governor John Sununu, whose Israel antipathy is well known now — but wasn’t so much in 1988:

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For those with long memories, it harkened back to the 1988 election, when Sununu was Republican candidate George H.W. Bush’s national campaign manager. Pro-Israel hawks were beating the drum for Bush that year, warning that Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was a threat to Israel because Jesse Jackson was prominent in his party. Bush was Israel’s true friend, they said.

Nobody paid much attention to Sununu until after Election Day, even though the press was reporting some alarming facts about him (I remember, because I wrote the stories). One of the highest-ranking Lebanese Americans in national politics — and the only one then active in Arab-American community affairs — Sununu was also the only one of the 50 governors who refused to sign a 1987 proclamation saluting the 90th anniversary of Zionism and calling on the United Nations to rescind its Zionism-racism resolution. His reasoning was that governors shouldn’t dabble in foreign affairs — though he’d issued proclamations honoring Bastille Day and saluting Polish freedom on Pulaski Day. In 1988 he issued a proclamation honoring the veterans of the U.S.S. Liberty, an American naval vessel mistakenly attacked by Israeli jets in June 1967, causing 34 deaths. Sununu called the attack “vicious and unprovoked.”

Bush’s Jewish supporters insisted Sununu’s views didn’t reflect Bush’s. When word came out that Sununu was to be White House chief of staff, they said he wouldn’t be involved in Middle East policy. They said Bush was a devoted friend of Israel. Then we found out he wasn’t.

We hadn’t seen much of Sununu lately, until Romney went and found him. Or they found each other.

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