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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Robert Wexler accuses Romney, Perry, Gingrich of undermining Israel w foreign aid stance



Former South Florida Congressman Robert Wexler on a DNC conference call this afternoon ripped Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for implying in Saturday's debate that they would zero foreign aide, including to Israel.

While Romney never mentioned Israel, Wexler said he had to know the implications of what he was saying. The Romney campaign, in turn, called it a "dishonest attack."

"Mr. Romney made a choice, and he chose to speak to the passion of the tea party constituency. He should just own up to it and say very clearly that the tea party and its allies have caused the Republican presidential candidates to articulate a foreign policy that is quite extreme,'' said Wexler, a leading Florida Obama supporter in 2008 who now leads the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.

 He noted that in 2007 the U.S. and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding committing to $30-billion in military aid to Israel over a decade, and that President Obama has implemented that agreement.

"On the one hand we have president who honors the 2007 memorandum of understanding, implements it and actually enhances it. Contrast that with Romney, Perry and Gingrich who with respect to the 2007 memo of understanding either ignore it or violate it and undermine the essence of what it seeks to achieve," said Wexler, suggesting they were emboldening Iran by sending the message Israel's military capability could suffer.

UPDATE: Romney spokesman Ryan Williams says Israel was not part of the equation.

"Gov. Romney clearly discussed zeroing out all foreign aid for Pakistan until certain conditions are met. He does not support zeroing out funding for every country," Williams said.

"Governor Romney supports reforming America’s foreign assistance programs. He has called for an end to foreign aid for countries that can take care of themselves or countries that oppose American interests. He has also proposed increased assistance for strategic allies such as Israel.

"The Democrats dishonest attack is a desperate attempt to distract from President Obama’s derisive remarks about Israel’s Prime Minister. At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House."

[Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2011 6:09pm]


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