Audio: Sherrod Brown's Controversial Comments on Obamacare, Iran, Israel

Senator Sherrod Brown delivered controversial remarks on Iran, Obamacare, Israel, and J Street at a Jewish center in Columbus on October 18. At the time of writing, this journalist is the only one to have a complete audio copy of the remarks during the Q&A segment in New Albany, OH on October 18, 2012. 

The Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center, in conjunction with the Herbert Weyl Jewish Business Network, featured the senator as speaker to a group of approximately 50 voters. Members of the public could attend pursuant to a $25 donation. At least one citizen present during the discussion decided to record the remarks, although the Brown campaign has a history of hostility towards such actions. Recently, a Jewish constituent was forced to leave a Sherrod Brown event after asking a pointed question about the senator’s policies towards Israel. 

Although Senator Brown talks often about bipartisanship, he is ranked by the non-partisan Heritage Foundation as further to the Left than Senator Bernie Sanders, an admitted socialist. 

Brown’s veneer of moderation could not contain his liberal bona fides last week, beginning with his touting of E.J. Dionne as “the most reflective” journalist besides “perhaps Connie Schultz.” Dionne is one of most reliably leftist opinion leaders in the nation. For instance, although a recent Gallup poll shows there are nearly twice as many conservatives as liberals in the United States,  E.J. Dionne “reflected” and boiled down the beliefs of more than 100 million Americans to this juvenile line:

Forgive me for noting that conservatives seem to believe that the rich will work harder if we give them more, and the poor will work harder if we give them less.

Brown vowed to defend Obamacare; he stated there is “no chance it will be repealed even if Romney wins; too many of us in the Senate will fight too hard to stop it because it’s the right thing to do.” He furthermore proclaimed, “It’s the most important vote I’ve ever cast and it’s the best vote I’ve ever cast.” Voters favor the repeal of Obamacare by a ten-point margin.

Brown portrayed himself as a hardliner on Iran; he stated he has “been part of this [imposing Iran sanctions] on the committee.” Yet, the Council for a Livable World funded the Brown campaign to the tune of more than $72,000. This organization actively opposes Iran sanctions—going so far as to suggest Iran may be ten years away from developing nuclear weapons capabilities.

Senator Brown then claimed Obama's nuclear treaty with Russia may have restrained Iran’s nuclear ambitions, asserting, “I think our START ratification helped at least to get the Russians to put pressure on Iran.” Just last week, Russia reiterated its opposition to new Iran sanctions. 

Expanding on the subject, Brown declared, “foreign aid is generally very important to me. When I say foreign aid, I mean to Israel AND Egypt.” He continued, “Is Israel more important to us than Mexico? I don’t know.”

An attendee asked the senator about his relationship with J Street. In the 2007-2012 election cycle, JStreetPAC has contributed more heavily to Sherrod Brown than any other organization, including Ohio State University. Many within Israel consider J Street hostile to Israeli security concerns. Its Director, Ben Ami, penned an article in the Huffington Post opposing Iranian sanctions. Yet, Senator Brown boasted last week, “Whatever my relationship with J Street is, I’m proud of it.”

One attendee asked the senator the following:

Is there anything that would make you reconsider [1] your initial opposition to the security barrier that has saved the lives of countless Israelis, both Jewish and Aras, from suicide bombers…[2] [anything to make you reconsider] your signature on a letter…opposing Israel’s embargo of Gaza, an embargo that was in fact recognized by the UN to be lawful and [3] do you endorse the President’s insistence in  defiance of UN Resolution 242 which calls for secure and recognizable borders, that Israel return to the indefensible armistice lines of 1949, erroneously sometimes called the 1967 borders, with only minor adjustments?

The senator refused to affirm Jerusalem as capital of Israel, merely stating the following:

I understand the symbolism of it, I’ve been to Jerusalem a number of times. I understand the importance of it, I understand the volatility of it. The Dome of the Rock is the center in many ways of three religions, at least three religions say that. So I understand all that. I think that at the risk of sounding partisan, a number of Republicans are trying to divide [on the Israel issue]...

Brown neglected to directly answer the concerns over his opposition to the security fence, his opposition to the Gaza embargo, and his viewpoint on the “pre-1967” lines. The senator simply stated, “I think are relations, between our intelligence forces and Israel’s are stronger than they’ve ever been. I think the cooperation between our military and the IDF are stronger than they’ve ever been.” 

Senator Brown claims his biggest mistake in his career representing Ohio was taking “a while to learn the difference between the two Houses” and failing to adapt “more quickly to the different set of rules.”

The full audio of Senator Brown's remarks can be heard below:


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