Oct 18, 2023

How GOP Candidates are Approaching the Middle East

The GOP Candidates all agree on one thing.
How GOP Candidates are Approaching the Middle East

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Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: Politicians of all stripes have responded to Hamas’s violent attack on Israel and its aftermath, including GOP 2024 primary candidates. While the GOP has been facing a rift — between those who prefer American intervention in world affairs and those who want less of it — its candidates are somewhat united policy-wise when it comes to Israel.

What they’re saying:

  • Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner, drew controversy by critiquing Israel in the wake of the attack, calling Islamic terrorists “smart.” He later argued that he would be the only president who could protect Israel.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been clear in his support of Israel, though he stopped short of calling for direct American military action. He recently chartered flights back to Florida for Americans stuck in the country.
  • Vivek Ramaswamy called for reducing aid to Israel in mid-August but now says the U.S. should provide it if requested.
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley claimed that Hamas’s actions were an “attack on America” and argued that President Joe Biden’s hostage deal with Iran is to blame.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence wants America to provide military aid and labeled Trump, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy as “voices of appeasement.” He has also argued that the U.S. should send in Special Forces to free American hostages in Gaza should Hamas refuse to give them up.

No clear dividing lines: Unlike the issue of aid for Ukraine, which fell on the standard GOP dividing lines of interventionism versus isolationism, the dividing lines here are less clear — there is no disagreement on assisting Israel.

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