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Posted at 08:31 AM ET, 07/12/2012

The Morning Plum: Hitting Republicans on Israel — from the left

Is it possible to make Republicans pay a political price by hitting them from the left for being too confrontational on Israel’s behalf, and too hostile towards Palestinians, when it comes to Mideast peace issues? The left-leaning group J-Street is launching a new experiment to find out.

J-Street, which is having some success in injecting moderation into a conversation that is overly dominated by aggressively “pro-Israel” voices, is launching ads against two House Republicans who are given to incendiary comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, who recently earned headlines for suggesting Dem opponent and double-amputee veteran Tammy Duckworth isn’t a “true hero,” has described the idea of a two state solution as “insane” and has said that “too many American Jews aren’t as pro-Israel as they should be.” Rep. Allen West has denounced Obama’s support for a two-state solution as potentially “the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state,”and has said Palestine is “not a people.”

The J-Street ads take direct aim at both of them. The ad running in Walsh’s district hits him for wanting Israel “to take permanent control over Palestinian territory”:

The ad hitting Allen West, which will be placed online, actually goes as far as criticizing him for dehumanizing Palestinians. That one is here.

What’s particularly interesting about the spots is that they accuse both GOP Congressmen of posing a danger to Israel with their incendiary rhetoric, and flatly state that opposing a two-state solution “isn’t pro-Israel.”

Duckworth has firmly embraced J-Street and the two-state solution, arguing that supporting it is actually in Israel’s interests. Many Congressional Dems have proven too skittish to engage the debate in the manner Duckworth has, so it will be interesting to see how these ads are received. What this is all about, ultimately, is whether more liberal voices on these issues can break the monopoly Israel hawks seem to think they have on what it means to be “pro-Israel.”

* Here comes the pushback from the Romney campaign: The other day I noted here that there had been curiously little pushback in the way of ads from the Romney campaign against the massive onslaught of attacks on his Bain years and offshore accounts. Well, here it comes — the Romney campaign has launched a new ad hitting back:

The ads suggest two possibilities: Either the Romney campaign is feeling the heat from critics who say it hasn’t been aggressive enough in responding to the Obama camp’s attacks, and wants to quiet that criticism. Or the Romney camp has decided that those attacks are, in fact, working. Or, obviously, both. But it’s clear that the Romney campaign has decided to ratchet up its engagement in the argument about the true meaning of his business background.

* Doubts rising among conservatives about Romney campaign: Here’s somethign that helps explain the above ad: The New York Times goes big with the rising chorus of complaints from the right about Romney’s lackluster response to the Obama/Dem onslaught.

The question is whether the above ad will mollify critics. Articles like this one have the potential to be a real headache for campaigns.

* Romney stayed at Bain three years longer than he said: Big scoop from the Boston Globe:

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time....
The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.

This could prove to be particularly awkward timing, given the new Romney ad above. And it will give Dems more fodder for their attack on Romney for not being transparent about his finances.

* Mixed polling on health reform: A new Quinnipiac poll offers still more mixed messages: A plurality (48 percent) supports requiring people to have health insurance, but a majority (55) thinks the law is a tax. A plurality (48) supports the Supreme Court decision, but a plurality (49) wants the law repealed. (The poll doesn’t offer the choice of repealing part of the law, skewing the numbers.)

But perhaps this is the key finding: 59 percent of Americans, and 63 percent of independents, say the SCOTUS decision will make no difference in whether they vote for Obama. Reminder: Romney says the decision should redouble people’s urgency to oust the president.

* Widespread public support for Obama immigration move: The Q-poll also finds that 55 percent of Americans, and 55 percent of independents, back Obama’s ban on deportation of DREAM-eligible youth. Reminder: Romney still has not clarified whether he’d repeal this policy if elected president.

* Money gap won’t decide this campaign: T.W. Farnam takes a stab at debunking the Republicans’ chest thumping about their fundraising advantage, as well as the Obama camp’s cries of urgency: Challengers have repeatedly outspent incumbent presidents in the past, and in the end, both sides will have all the resources they need to saturate the swing states with ads for months.

* But Obama supporters are growing concerned: Nervous Democrats rightly point out that we really don’t know how the money gap will impact the race, since we’re basically entering uncharted territory when it comes to the tsunami of outside money that’s about to hit the campaign.

* And another Romney quote from that NAACP speech: Via Taegan Goddard, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow flag a doozy:

If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free.

More free stuff from the government! As Steve Benen points out, this gets at an actual policy disagreement between the two campaigns that’s rather important.

What else?

By  |  08:31 AM ET, 07/12/2012

 
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