I am pumped up about Mitt Romney's speech in Israel -- for both political reasons and policy ones -- and believe it may represent a turning point in the campaign.
Politically -- and this is important because it is critical that he win, or he won't be able to implement any policies and set America back on the road to recovery -- Romney has shown again he is going to take the gloves off, deal with the issues directly and draw a stark contrast between his policies and Obama's record. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Some of the reasons John McCain lost in 2008 were his lackluster campaign, his refusal to showcase Obama's extreme liberalism and, thus, his failure to demonstrate why he would make a better president than Obama.
According to Gallup, Obama has already lost support among Jewish voters, down from 78 percent to 68 percent. If Romney shows that he is genuinely committed to Israel and that Obama is not, he'll make further inroads.
In an earlier piece, I expressed my view that to maximize his chances of victory, Romney has to attack Obama's record forcefully and comprehensively -- and what a target-rich record it is. He must keep Obama so busy answering criticisms that he doesn't have as much time to obfuscate, scapegoat and level deceptive charges against Romney. In addition to highlighting Obama's disastrous policy failures, he must also present a positive, uplifting agenda. In short, he must communicate to voters his undivided commitment to America's greatness and its first principles and inspire confidence in the electorate that he will lead us to reclaim our greatness.
With his economic speeches in response to Obama's "you didn't build that" fiasco, Romney proved that he does have fire in his belly and that he is fervently dedicated to free enterprise, entrepreneurship and pro-growth policies. With his Israel speech, he laid down another marker -- telling us he is going to take the offense and make Obama accountable for his unacceptable and misguided policies. He has no intention of allowing Obama to get away with misrepresenting his record -- on the economy or on foreign policy, including his behavior toward our great ally Israel. Any concerns that Romney will adopt McCain's milquetoast campaign model are quickly diminishing.As with his business speeches, Romney was animated and hard-hitting. There was none of this McCainish "Obama is a fine man and he'll make a wonderful president" nonsense. He called Obama out for his mistreatment of Israel and, at the same time, pledged his unwavering support for the Jewish state.
Like Los Angeles Dodgers base-stealing legend Maury Wills, who reputedly reached full speed on his second step, Romney opened up his speech in a full sprint, affirming our spiritual ties to Israel and virtually repudiating Obama's moral equivalence approach to the region.
Romney said, "To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land." As Middle Eastern expert Daniel Pipes observed, this opener was in direct contrast to "Obama's crabbed statement in Cairo about 'the aspiration for a Jewish homeland (being) rooted in a tragic history.'" Indeed.
Romney's deliberate recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was set against White House press secretary Jay Carney's rhetorical silence on the issue and against the gleeful reference to that city as "Al-Quds" -- the Arabic term for the city -- by John Brennan, Obama's deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism.
He called Obama to the carpet for openly rebuking Israel, as Hillary Clinton had over Israel's decision to proceed with settlements on its own land and as Vice President Joe Biden had when he said, "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem." Also, in an interview, Romney lambasted Obama for criticizing Israel before the United Nations and for ignoring the rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza.
Romney denounced Obama's reckless and disloyal campaign for Israel to return to its 1967 borders, calling those borders "indefensible." And, in contrast to Obama, Romney said he would respect a decision by Israel to take action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities.
High praise for Mitt Romney for unapologetically pledging his administration's support for Israel and for taking his campaign to a new and promising level. Bravo.