(JTA) — The chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition said its members are “thrilled” about the performance of President Donald Trump, especially with his approach to the Middle East.
“I think they’re feeling thrilled,” said former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman in an interview with McClatchy at the weekend’s annual RJC leadership conference in Las Vegas. “If you look at the change of what has happened with Israel, in terms of moving the capital to Jerusalem, the tough approach to Iran, holding the U.N. finally accountable … I think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm in the center-right, pro-Israel community about President Trump.”
The McClatchy reporter noted that in March 2016, Coleman wrote an op-ed titled “I will never vote for Donald Trump” in which he called the then-presidential candidate “A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully.”
Reminded about the op-ed, Coleman replied, “There are things I agree with the president on, things I disagree with. When it comes to Middle East policy, when it comes to what he’s doing in Iran, absolutely I’m thrilled he’s doing it, I’m thrilled he’s here.”
The annual gathering took place at the Venetian/Palazzo Hotel, owned by one of the RJC’s and Republican Party’s main benefactors, Sheldon Adelson, who was in Israel for a friend’s funeral and did not attend.
While others at the event were similarly enthusiastic about Trump’s Middle East policies, McClatchy noted mixed feelings among the RJC membership.
“For center-right Jews such as myself, that’s been the problem, is that on certain things he’s been overall positive — on the U.S.-Israel relationship, no question he’s better than Obama,” said Noam Neusner, who served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. “But on so many aspects of how he’s handled the presidency, how he’s conducted himself, perhaps certain issues of leadership, fitness — it’s been a challenge.”
Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and made plans to move the U.S. Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv. He also has declined to certify the Iran nuclear deal and pulled the United States out of the United Nations’ economic and cultural agency over its anti-Israel bias.