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Ted Cruz Woos the Jews

Republican presidential hopeful gears up for 2016 with some schmoozing

Stephanie Butnick
December 15, 2014
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz on November 4, 2014 in Austin, TX. (Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz on November 4, 2014 in Austin, TX. (Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has a long way to go to make it to the ballot in 2016. But as Jonathan Chait points out, the presidential hopeful has a plan, laid out plainly in a new National Review profile of the could-be candidate.

He has already gone to great lengths to court Jews, making it clear that he wants their approval, acceptance, and financial support. He turned up, for example, at Commentary magazine’s annual dinner in September 2013, the only potential 2016 candidate to do so. The senator also attended New York City’s Israel Day concert and parade in June — and then raised $100,000 at Abigail’s, a kosher restaurant in Manhattan. He gave an address last month to the Zionist Organization of America, preceded by a meeting with New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and followed by meetings with Sheldon Adelson and the hedge-fund manager Michael Steinhardt, former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. Steinhardt hosted Cruz in his office around a table with some of the Jewish community’s most influential political donors.

Cruz has been noticeably vocal about his support for Israel and Jews in recent months. At an In Defense of Christians summit in September, Cruz scandalized the audience when he said during his keynote address, “The very same people who persecute and murder Christians, who crucify Christians, who behead children, are the very same people who target Jews for their faith, for the same reason.” (He left the stage to boos.)

It’s too early to tell if getting in with the Tribe help Cruz get the Republican nomination for 2016. Let’s just hope he knows not to wish anyone Molotov this Hanukkah.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.