WASHINGTON — Given her audience, Michele Bachmann’s chosen topic during a visit to Washington on Wednesday was an obvious one: Israel.
Bachmann spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition during a presidential forum on Wednesday. She opened by telling the assembled crowd of a few hundred about her trip to Israel after she graduated from high school. She pledged that her first act as president would be to move the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and that her first overseas trip would be to Israel to meet with its prime minister and to speak to the Knesset.
Bachmann used her speech to paint President Barack Obama as actively weakening the American alliance with Israel. She knocked Obama’s summer pronouncement that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians should be based around the 1967 borders in the region. That caused tension between the U.S. and Israel, Bachmann said, and it “emboldened the Palestinians to seek statehood at the U.N.”
She said the onus is on the Palestinian Authority to meet its current legal obligations (collecting illegal weapons and pursuing terrorists, for example) before peace talks can take off again. Bachmann said there is “a complete misunderstanding about this process” from the Obama administration, and hit several Obama administration officials for their recent comments about Israel, and joined the growing crowd of Republicans demanding Obama fire Belgian ambassador Howard Gutman after he tied anti-Semitism to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Bachmann segued into her standard economic stump speech material by saying the United States can only protect its allies abroad by stabilizing its finances at home. From there, she called for an end to crony capitalism, simplifying the tax code, lowering corporate tax rates to increase competitiveness and repealing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
She revisited her foreign policy at the end of her address and focused a good portion of the speech on Iran. Bachmann said Obama has not worked hard enough to discourage Iranian development of nuclear weapons. She harkened back the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was 70 years ago Wednesday, and said she fears “that we are ignoring the warning signs and I wonder what other Pearl Harbors might be in the future of the United States.”
“[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] intends to wipe Israel from the face of the earth,” Bachmann said, pledging a robust set of sanctions against Iran should she be elected president. “Once he obtains nuclear weapons, he will use them against the United States … make no mistake about that. When a madman speaks, world, pay attention.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry