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There is a lot of money and influence at stake for the GOP presidential candidates this week…
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, alongside up-and-coming rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, will bring their campaign ideas back to Washington, D.C. Thursday. That's where they'll attend the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Presidential Candidates Forum downtown at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
One wrong word could cost a candidate millions.
For example, Chris Christie got into a lot of trouble at the RJC in the spring of 2014 when he reminisced on time he spent in the Middle East. Christie noted that he'd taken a helicopter from "occupied territories" that helped him "understand the military risk that Israel faces every day." The "occupied territories" to which Christie referred, however, were the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Israeli government and many of its supporters believe it has a right to.
While the story was intended to forge commonality with the present donors to whom Christie was speaking, his use of the term "occupied territories" upset members of the crowd. To them, it validated "Palestinian challenges over Israel's presence," reported Politico on March 28, 2014.
One attendee, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told Politico that he considered Christie's mistake exemplary of a noncommittal candidate who doesn't know the issues. Which begs a few questions about the 2016 presidential candidates set to attend Thursday's event:
- Should GOP presidential hopeful and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson attend, considering his infamous lack of knowledge about sensitive foreign policy/affairs issues?
- Could attending the conference hurt Trump, whose gregarious speeches sometimes border on racially inappropriate projections?
- Will the RJC provide notably well-spoken but lagging-in-polls candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R- FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) an opportunity to gain headway?