Las Vegas, Oct. 17 – Likely Republican primary voters in Las Vegas, NV expressed interest in strong support for Israel from the next U.S. administration. These comments come less than 24 hours before a scheduled Republican presidential debate. The discussion of foreign policy was held in an open-to-the-press focus group conducted by Dr. Frank Luntz, and sponsored by The Israel Project.
One participant poignantly said: “I think it is a sense of loyalty… We see the loyalty that Israel gives us and we should give it back.”
All of the participants in the group are planning to vote in the Republican primary elections in Nevada, to be held January 14, 2012. The group did not focus on individual candidates, but rather gave voters an opportunity to discuss their hopes for future U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
In the group of likely Republican primary voters, every respondent expressed the opinion that the United States is spending too much money on foreign aid. But, not a single respondent felt that too much is spent on foreign aid specifically to Israel. Israel is the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid at approximately $3 billion a year.
“When I see missiles being lobbed into Israel, kids having to go into their bunkers, I don't have a problem sending money to protect that state,” a male participant said in the focus group.
These Republican voters reject the concept of American isolationism, strongly believing that it is imperative that we remain involved with, and supportive of, Israel. Israel is viewed as a bastion of Western values in a difficult region, and these voters recognize both strategic and moral reasons for their support.
Assessing the threat of Iran, most of the voters are aware of the recently unveiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and bomb the Israeli and Saudi embassies. These primary voters have strong opinions as to the implications for U.S. policy. The belief among this group is that America must stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons – which if realized, could lead to Iran’s regional hegemony – at all costs. Said one participant: “The leader of that country is a very dangerous human being.”
“We have to remember with Iran that one of their goals in life is to destroy Israel, and we have to be partners with Israel to prevent that.”
In discussing how to deal with Iran, one respondent said, “Make sure that they understand that all of the options are on the table.” In another’s opinion, “We should support the [protestors]; we should be backing the people… There is a huge undercurrent of people that want to get rid of that current regime.”
The Israel Project (TIP) is a nonprofit educational organization that provides information about Israel and the Middle East to the press, policy makers and the public. TIP is not affiliated with any government, is nonpartisan, and neither rates nor endorses political candidates. In this educational role, TIP’s President has already met with all of the presidential candidates including President Obama.