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ELECTION WATCH

Bloomberg considering presidential run

(JTA) — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly exploring a presidential run in the event that Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders win the Republican and Democratic nominations respectively. Bloomberg, a media magnate and three-term New York mayor (2002-2013), Bloomberg, 73, was a Democrat until his first run, in 2001, when, unable to secure the party’s nomination, he became a Republican. He became an Independent in 2007.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Bloomberg commissioned a poll to test how he would fare in a presidential run. Bloomberg previously considered presidential runs, but had concluded that an Independent’s chances are near zero. Now, however, he reportedly feels that the prospect of Trump, a populist whose campaign has been fueled to a great degree by anti-immigrant rhetoric, facing off against Sanders, a social Democrat who like Trump rails against the political establishment, could change that calculus. According to reports, Bloomberg would consider spending up to $1 billion of his own money on a run. He is not likely to enter the race if Hillary Clinton emerges as the candidate.

Bloomberg, who like Sanders is Jewish, has maintained close ties to Israel, making a last-minute visit to the country during its 2014 war with Hamas to show that travel was safe in the face of a brief Federal Aviation Authority ban. He won the 2014 $1 million Genesis Generation Challenge, a prize awarded for “engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel.” His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has provided $1.5 million to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in urban innovation grants.

 

Clinton camp cites Israel in taking aim at Sanders

(JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign took aim at her rival Bernie Sanders’ Middle East policies, saying they would leave Israel vulnerable. Jake Sullivan, a foreign policy adviser to Clinton who also served with her when she was secretary of state, depicted as dangerous Sanders’ proposal to normalize relations with Iran, made during the most recent debate for Democratic presidential candidates.

“Iran seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran is a leading sponsor of terror in the region, Iran is flouting international law with its ballistic missile tests and its threats against our allies and partners,” Sullivan said in a video the Clinton campaign posted to social media this week. The candidates were commenting during the debate on the sanctions relief for nuclear rollbacks deal achieved last year between Iran and six major powers. Like President Barack Obama, the candidates back the deal, while the full slate of Republican candidates opposes it, as does Israel’s government.

Sullivan also focused on Sanders’ argument in an earlier debate, in November, that Muslim nations, including Iran, should contribute troops to combating the Islamic State. “It’s like inviting one of the arsonists to join the firefighters, not to mention the fact that it would be putting more Iranian firepower right on Israel’s doorstep,” Sullivan said.

 

Trump ‘100%’ for moving U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

(JNS.org) Donald Trump, the front-runner in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, said he supports moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a move would be “very good” to Israel, Trump said in an interview with CBN News, adding, “I am for that a hundred percent.” At a Republican Jewish Coalition event in December, Trump was booed when he stopped short of making the same assertion about the embassy and the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

Trump also called the newly implemented nuclear deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran a “tremendous liability” to Israel that may lead to broad nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. “I will be very good to Israel,” Trump said. “I will back Israel. We have a president that I think is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel, but I’ll be backing it very strongly. They’re our best ally; they’re our best ally in the Middle East. They’ve really been loyal to us—we have not been loyal to them.”

 

Clinton taps veteran Jewish community campaigner as outreach director

(JTA) — The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign named a veteran campaigner for Democrats with strong ties to the organized Jewish community as its Jewish outreach director. Sarah Bard, 35, served on Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign and then switched to President Barack Obama’s campaign when he won the nomination. She led the Jewish Leadership Council during Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, a fundraising body for the campaign.

She also worked for the Democratic National Committee, as an aide to its chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., one of the most prominent Jewish lawmakers. In that capacity, Bard worked on Jewish outreach. The daughter of a Boston area rabbi, Dov Bard, she has lived in Israel and has held leadership roles in the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Young Leadership Division. Jewish outreach directors shape messaging for the community and help fundraise.

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