Two Republican party superstars leveraged the conference to pitch themselves as potential 2024 presidential candidates.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
An A-list roster of lawmakers spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual conference over the weekend, including former president Donald Trump, who used the event as an opportunity to recap his achievements for the Jewish State, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“No president has ever been a better friend to the state of Israel, and I’m very proud of that,” Trump said during the conference.
Trump demurred as to whether or not he would run for another term in the nation’s highest office, making way for two Republican party superstars to leverage the conference as an opportunity to pitch themselves as potential 2024 presidential candidates.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose pushback against vaccine mandates and school shutdowns have attracted nationwide attention, introduced himself as the leader of “the freest state in America.”
“We have to stand right now against these Biden mandates,” he said. “He does not have the constitutional authority to do what he’s trying to do, and if he can get away with this — trust me — you haven’t seen nothing yet.”
“No mandates, no restrictions, we are going to take our freedom back, and we have to do that right now,” DeSantis said to cheers.
He also denounced the teaching of “critical race theory” (CRT) in Florida schools, stating: “We are not spending taxpayer dollars to teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other. That is not happening,”
He attributed a massive migration from the New York metropolitan area — especially of Jewish communities — to more than the Sunshine State’s enviable weather.
“When I got elected governor in 2018 there were about 300,000 more registered Democrats in the state of Florida than Republicans,” said DeSantis.
“And as I stand here before you today I can happily report that, for the first time in the history of the state of Florida, we have more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.”
Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned that “Israel should not count on Biden to stop the Iran nuclear program,” calling on Israel to defend itself.
“The Iranian nuclear threat is existential for Israel. If Israel makes the grave decision that its security depends on removing that threat, it should not wait for an American green light that might never come,” she stated, while addressing the RJC over the weekend.
Haley’s criticism extended to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group. “Why do they invite politicians to their conference who strongly support the Iran nuclear deal?” she asked at the beginning of her speech, drawing applauds from the crowd.
She argued that AIPAC and other bodies that support Israel are taking the principle of bipartisanship too far, losing sight of the very thing they are fighting for.
“I want all Democrats to support Israel as much as Republicans do,” she said. “But if you make bipartisanship the whole reason for existence, then you lose sight of the policies you’re fighting for in the first place,” she continued.
Haley’s warning is joined by that of former Vice President Mike Pence who cautioned that President Joe Biden has “turned his back on Israel.”
“Make no mistake about it, President Joe Biden has turned his back on Israel,” Pence told the RJC.
Biden has “restored funding for the Palestinian Authority, announced his intention to rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal, and now the Biden administration is planning to open a consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinian people,” Pence said, noting that the consulate opening “is an unlawful step and it’s time for Congress to act to deny President Biden from opening a consulate in Jerusalem.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also expected to throw his hat in the ring for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said the party needs to move forward from the 2020 election.
“We can no longer talk about the past, and past elections,” Christie said, to applause from the audience.
“No matter where you stand on that (2020) election, no matter where you stand, it is over. Every minute that we spend talking about 2020, all the wasted time that we’re there, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are laying ruin to this country. We better focus on that and take our eyes off the rearview mirror and start looking through the windshield.”
The Review Journal reported that while Christie was also well-received by the audience, the crowd appeared to be more enthusiastic about DeSantis.
Tobias Siegal and Aryeh Savir(TPS) contributed to this report.