JERUSALEM – Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s European tour concluded on a high note Tuesday, as a new Rasmussen poll showed the Republican had opened up a 5-point lead over Democratic incumbent Barack Obama in the State of Israel.
The poll was the first to be conducted in the state entirely after Romney’s trip last weekend, and it indicates a major lead in a region which several pundits have identified as one of the most crucial swing states in the upcoming general election. The region has been of increasing interest in recent years, with Senior Fellow David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noting that, increasingly “as Israel goes, so goes the nation.”
The 6-day trip–which included stops in England, Israel, and Poland–had mostly been notable for a series of perceived gaffes by the Romney campaign, including insulting remarks about London’s preparedness to host the Olympic games and a hostile exchange of words between a senior aide and the press corp. But spokespeople are pointing to the new poll results in Israel- which had been deadlocked prior to Romney’s arrival- as proof of the overall success of the trip.
“Mitt Romney has been a firm believer in an aggressive, assertive foreign policy, and that was a message that really resonated with the Israeli people,” said Romney chief spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom, who described the region as “underappreciated and often overlooked in the general election.” Added Fehrnstrom, “Mitt’s strong stance on the topics of Iran and Palestine are part of the reason why we believe the State of Israel will reject the socialist and Iran-friendly policies of Obama come November.”
The Obama campaign quickly downplayed the importance of the new polling numbers, with top Obama aide Robert Gibbs pointing out that “while technically the full name of Israel is the State of Israel, they are not actually part of the United States of America, and as such do not actually get to vote.” But the Romney campaign was quick to fire back, with Fehrnstrom replying that the Obama campaign’s lax attitude toward polling numbers in Israel further evidenced how out-of-touch Obama was with the average American.
“Barack Obama is continuing to distance himself from the American people. And while he continues to fail to fix our broken economy, we’re continuing to see real Americans from around the world support Mitt’s campaign. It’s further evidence that Mitt Romney is the one who understands the average American,” said Fehrnstrom, noting that Romney had successfully raised more than $1 million at a $50,000-a-plate breakfast in Jerusalem. Peter Brookes, a senior fellow for the Heritage Foundation, lauded Romney’s work in Israel, and added that “[it’s] clear that while Obama is content to court Hollywood and Wall Street, Mitt Romney is looking at a far more global, all-encompassing support base, which could very well be the difference in the general election.”
– TDM ’14