This weekend, leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition hold their annual spring meeting in Las Vegas–and, as in prior years, many Republican presidential hopefuls will be in attendance. The conference is hosted by Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate, philanthropist and Republican mega-donor.
This year, the contenders in attendance include: Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Rob Portman (OH), Gov. Mike Pence (IN), Gov. Rick Perry (TX), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC). The keynote speaker at the gala dinner is former President George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney is also featured at a kickoff event.
Last year, one of the major figures at the meeting was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has recently fallen out of favor with Adelson and other Jewish conservatives over his embrace of former Secretary of State James Baker. Baker is seen as hostile to Israel and recently addressed the far-left group J Street.
In an apparent attempt to walk back the controversy around Baker, Bush told a group of donors in Manhattan this week that he does not share Baker’s views on Israel, even though he invited Baker to be one of his foreign policy advisers. Baker also took a tougher stance against the Iran deal in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has already attacked the gathering, writing in a blog at the Times of Israel that “the casino magnate does not speak for the American Jewish community, and the GOP candidates’ courting of an Adelson-funded super PAC should not be mistaken for genuine outreach.”
Wasserman Schultz also attacked the Republican Jewish Coalition for allegedly politicizing the U.S.-Israel relationship. “I am proud of the efforts made by the Obama administration to solidify the relationship with one of our nation’s closest friends and strongest allies,” she wrote.