(JTA) — Never Trump? Always Trump? Never-doesn’t-last-forever-Trump?
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, presents a quandary for Jewish conservatives. He said in December that he doesn’t want Jewish Republican money, and that he would be “neutral” when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.
He walked the “neutrality” back in his speech in March to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but his peregrinations on foreign policy (hawk? dove? anything?), his lack of political and policy experience, his appeals to nativist, isolationist voters and his broadsides against Muslims, Hispanics and women continue to chill some conservatives, many Jews among them. On the other hand, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are both Jewish and involved in pro-Israel and Jewish activism, and both have played prominent roles in his campaign.
We’ve started a running list of where prominent Jewish conservatives land when it comes to how to deal with The Donald. Expect updates, with new names (please tweet them to me @kampeas) and possibly changed positions.
Ari Fleischer, former spokesman for President George W. Bush: “There’s a lot about Donald Trump that I don’t like, but I’ll vote for Trump over Hillary any day,” he said on Twitter.
Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate, Republican powerbroker, major pro-Israel giver: “I think that Donald Trump will be good for Israel,” he told the BBC. “I’m a Republican, he’s a Republican. He’s our nominee.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.: “He is by far a much better candidate for president than Hillary Clinton,” he told the New York Jewish Week.
Jeff Ballabon, heads a strategic communications firm: “We’re on the Trump train because we know where Hillary Clinton wants to go. She is committed to continuing, enshrining, and accelerating the destruction of the past eight years,” he wrote, with Bruce Abramson, on the CNBC website.
Sid Dinerstein, former chairman of the Palm Beach, Fla., Republican Party: “A 35 point victory is a statement rocking the world: Donald will be the Republican nominee and then he’ll do to Hillary what he did to the Republicans — take no prisoners,” he wrote on Newsmax after Trump’s New York primary vote.
NOT VOTING TRUMP OR HIS DEMOCRATIC OPPONENT
Norm Coleman, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota: “Not voting Trump or Clinton,” he said in an email.
Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard and the Emergency Committee for Israel: “I feel like we should do better than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I suspect the Lord would reward us if we try hard to find a better president for the country than those two people,” he said on WMAL, a Washington, DC-area talk radio station May 5.
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist: “There have been and will continue to be efforts to find an alternative candidate to Trump and Clinton,” she wrote on May 3, the day after Trump clinched the presumptive nomination. “Honorable men and women who find Trumpism repugnant and are willing to step into the fray should be commended regardless of the election’s outcome. They will have a ready answer to the question: What did you do to stop Trump?”
Noam Neusner, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush: “Not Trump, not Hillary,” he said in an email.
NOT VOTING TRUMP, NO DECISION ON HIS OPPONENT
Seth Mandel, New York Post Op-Ed page editor: “I haven’t truly decided yet,” he said in an email.
Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations fellow, foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential run in 2008: “I’m literally losing sleep over Donald Trump,” he told Vox. Hillary Clinton “would be vastly preferable to Trump.”
Bethany Mandel, blogger, contributor to N.Y. Post, The Federalist and The New York Observer: “I would be open to voting third party if there’s a decent choice, or not voting if there’s no,” Mandel told JTA. “If New Jersey is close (where I’m registered) I would vote for Hillary in a heartbeat.”
WOULD VOTE CLINTON
Robert Kagan, Brookings Institution fellow and foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential run in 2008: “For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be,” he wrote in the Washington Post.
Joshua Muravchik, neoconservative thinker, author of “Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel: “I’m voting for Hillary” if she wins the Democratic nomination, he told JTA. “I am very skeptical of her. But Trump has degraded American politics in a way unlike anything I have ever witnessed. I can’t say enough bad things about him. His ignorance is staggering and his personality is revolting.”
OPPOSED TRUMP, BUT OPEN TO PERSUASION
Nick Muzin, senior adviser to the campaign of Ted Cruz: “I am a Republican and want to vote for the Republican nominee, but Mr. Trump still has to prove himself,” he told the New York Jewish Week May 5.
Fred Zeidman, former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, backed Jeb Bush and then Ted Cruz: “I think he will be fine, but we need to sit down and be comfortable with him,” Zeidman told the New York Jewish Week May 5.
Tevi Troy, former deputy health secretary under President George W. Bush: “Over the next 6 months, Trump will have a chance to earn my vote, based on how (if) he changes his rhetoric; what the GOP platform looks like at the Trump-led convention; who Trump selects as his vice presidential candidate; and — assuming I am comfortable with that selection — what areas of responsibility Trump grants to that person,” Troy told JTA in an email.
OPPOSED TRUMP, BUT WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Paul Singer, hedge fund manager, backed Marco Rubio and major anti-Trump SuperPAC: Back in March, Singer was reportedly helped arrange an anti-Trump advertising campaign in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin and other states.
Eric Cantor, former majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, backed Jeb Bush: Cantor, who backed Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination, told CNBC May 3 that he had underestimated Trump, and that the billionaire could best Clinton. “I think there could be more states in play. I really do, because I do not think that the American people overall want to see more of the Clintons,” he said. Cantor did not volunteer where he now stood. “I’ve sat it out until now, and I will see.”