Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Summer Bash on Sunday, June 12, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the most extensive foreign policy speech of his now- embattled Presidential run.
If elected, Gingrich said that on his first day in office he would move the United States embassy to Jerusalem. He also pledged to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority until it breaks its ties with Hamas, “explicitly reject the concept of a right of return for Palestinians,” reestablish the United States Information Agency as a vehicle of public diplomacy and fundamentally reform the U.S. State Department.
Gingrich also said that, in the event the United Nations General Assembly votes to recognize an independent Palestinian state in September, “the United States must be prepared to suspend all funding to the United Nations.”
But the first thing Gingrich did on Sunday evening was dismiss reports that his run for President might be on the skids in the aftermath of the resignations of the core members of his campaign staff.
“I knew full well the rigors of campaigning for public office. In fact, I’ve had some recent reminders,” Gingrich said. “I will endure the challenges.”
The Presidential hopeful took shots at the President Barack Obama’s foreign policy record, and he wasn’t the only speaker to do so. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chair of the House committee on foreign relations, critiqued Obama’s mention of the 1967 lines in his speech to the State Department last month. She called for the United States to take on a “pro-Israel foreign policy, unabashedly.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal.), the house majority whip, even went so far as to quote Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech Sunday evening. Asked about the strength of bipartisan support for Israel, McCarthy averred that his colleagues across the aisle did demonstrate their support of the Jewish state. “In Congress, I think, it has been strong,” he said. “The President is another matter.”
Other Republican elected officials in attendance included South Bay businessman Craig Huey, who will face off against Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn in a second round of voting next month to replace former congresswoman Jane Harman. When RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks announced State Assemblyman Jeff Miller’s name, he also said that Miller, a Jewish Republican, would be formally announcing his candidacy for congress at an event on Monday, June 13.
The evening’s final speaker was Andrew Breitbart, the self-described “biased journalist” who released one damning photograph of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) after another over the course of recent weeks.
“Why is this night different from all other nights?” Breitbart asked, winning a few easy laughs. “Well, on this night, the American political agenda is being held hostage by a schmuck.”
If Gingrich had his sights set on Obama for his record with Israel, Breitbart shot directly at his preferred nemesis—the so-called mainstream media—and its coverage of the Middle East.
“You cannot be objective when it comes to right and wrong,” Breitbart said. “And Israel is in the right. So I’m a biased journalist, and I’m having a great time doing it.”
Earlier in the evening, in an interview with the Jewish Journal, Breitbart called the former House speaker “a very smart man, a very wise man,” but said he did not want to see Gingrich become the Republican nominee.
“I hope that he becomes the top adviser to the future President of the United States,” Breitbart said.
Although Israel and foreign policy were central to most of the evening’s speeches and conversations, they were not sole subjects of discussion.
Alex Fass, 24, was attending his first RJC Summer Bash with his father. Asked whether he supported Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare, which would remake the program into a defined benefit program to a defined contribution, Fass unflinchingly said yes.
“I’m paying taxes on something that I’m never going to see the benefit of anyway,” he said.
Being a young Jewish Republican isn’t always easy, though. Even at his “apolitical” college, Rhode Island School of Design, Fass said he felt lonely on the night in 2008 when Obama was elected. Most of his classmates went off to celebrate. “I felt so alone,” Fass said, “because I had no one to commiserate with.”
Here’s a clip from Gingrich’s speech, courtesy of CNN: