Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will visit Israel this summer (NYT) to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority leader Salam Fayyad, and other officials, a senior aide to the prime minister confirmed late Monday.
The trip will be an opportunity to appeal both to Jewish voters and donors, whose overwhelming support of President Barack Obama has softened according to some polls, and to evangelical Christians, whose trust he is still fighting to win. At the March conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Romney said Israel would be the destination of his first foreign trip as president, underscoring the fact that President Obama has not visited here since his election, a sore spot among some Israel supporters.
Presidential candidates rarely leave the United States during the heat of the campaign, but analysts and GOP lawmakers have been encouraging such a trip to burnish Romney’s foreign policy credibility. The candidate, who was chief executive of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, also plans to attend the Olympic opening ceremonies in London, and it is yet unclear whether Israel will be tacked onto that trip or be scheduled separately.
As the healthcare debate evolves into a discussion on the economics of medical coverage and tax issues, a Romney aide Monday sided with President Barack Obama’s camp on one aspect of the healthcare issue (WashPost), agreeing with the administration that the health insurance mandate is not a “tax” but a “penalty.”
The comments by Romney senior strategist Eric Fehrnstrom (MSNBC) puts the Romney campaign at odds with the Supreme Court, which ruled the law was constitutional in large part because Congress is permitted to levy taxes, and GOP leadership, who plan to continue opposition to the 2010 law on the grounds that it is in fact a new tax though the Obama administration insisted it was not.
Voters say they are divided over the U.S. Supreme Court decision on healthcare, with 36 percent approving and 40 percent disapproving of the decision, but only 55 percent of those polled even know the court upheld the 2010 law, according to Pew Research Center polling.
The poll found the top single-word reactions to the court’s decision were “disappointed” and “surprised.” Overall, the data since last week’s decision suggests the Supreme Court’s call is still sinking in, with either no real advantage for either side. The Supreme Court’s health care decision is the month’s most closely followed story, Pew says, surpassing the economy and the presidential election though the decision ties into to both.
— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor