Mixed News For Bibi From Iowa

Few people were more disappointed in Newt Gingrich’s distant 4th place in Tuesday’s Iowa Caucuses than Bibi Netanyahu.

The former Speaker of the House and the Israeli prime minister have been friends and cohorts for nearly 20 years since they first collaborated to thwart the peace policies of Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. 

It's no secret that Netanyahu and Barack Obama aren't close and have very different views when it comes to Arab-Israeli peace. 

The prime minister’s friends make no secret of the fact that Bibi, who once boasted to an interviewer, "I speak Republican," would prefer a Republican president like George W. Bush, who essentially put the peace process on hold for eight years, rather than an activist like Clinton or Obama.

Gingrich hasn’t officially given up and he may be able to stage yet another comeback in South Carolina, but it appears he may be putting more effort into blocking Mitt Romney than advancing Newt Gingrich.  His motivation is said to be payback for the costly and effective negative campaign Romney’s backers ran against Gingrich.

By all measures, Santorum was Tuesday’s big winner, coming from far back in the pack to finish only 8 votes behind the better financed and organized Romney.

Look for Santorum to make a strong pitch to Gingrich’s Jewish backers, especially billionaire casino mogul and Netanyahu backer Sheldon Adelson, in what may come down to a two-man race with Romney, who hopes to sew up the nomination in three potentially decisive primaries this month: New Hampshire (January 10), South Carolina (January 21) and Florida (January 31).

The former Pennsylvania senator can claim to be even more anti-Palestinian than Gingrich, who called them an “invented” people, going so far as to deny their very existence.

As reported here earlier, Santorum said, "All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis.  There are no Palestinians.  This is Israeli land."

Santorum is far more hawkish about bombing Iran than Romney.  He said on Meet the Press last week he "would tell Iranian leaders that either they open up those facilities, begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors – or the U.S. would attack them."

It is easy for an outsider to make such threats because he doesn't have to take responsibility for what he says at this point in the campaign.  There will be many opportunities for him to explain, "That may be what I said, but it's not what I meant." 

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has a totally opposite view of the Iranian nuclear program, came in third, but it is highly unlikely he could get the nomination because his libertarian-populist view on issues like Iran, Israel, the Afghanistan war, drugs and foreign policy are so out-of-synch with most of the party nationally.  If Paul, who confessed to an interviewer this week that he really can’t see himself in the Oval Office, goes anywhere it will be as a third-party candidate.

Has anyone heard from Wasilla, Alaska, lately?

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.