Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush unveiled his Jewish support team on Friday, vowing to “confront anti-Semitism wherever it exists” and “restore our alliances around the world, especially with the brave and democratic State of Israel.”
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Dubbed the "National Jewish Leadership Committee," the group consists of 71 prominent members of the United States Jewish community, among them former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Sam Olens, Attorney General of the state of Georgia.
The new team gathered for a pre-launch dinner on Thursday at the home of Glenda and Ronnie Krongold in Miami Beach and held its first meeting on Friday morning.
“When I launched my campaign, I was proud to count some long-time friends as my supporters," Bush said in a statement posted on his website Jeb2016.com. "They have been with me since my earliest days in Florida, and we have shared great memories together.
"Among them include members of the Jewish community who have welcomed me into their homes for Passover Seder, taken me as a travel companion to Israel and worked with me on issues of shared concern, such as religious freedom, school choice and economic opportunity. Having their support has meant so much, and we are looking to build that team.”
The purpose of the group is to raise funds and support for Bush's campaign within the American Jewish community.
Bush has reportedly been met with skepticism from some major Jewish donors because of the inclusion of former Secretary of State James Baker in his inner circle. Baker is widely seen as a critic of Israel and spoke earlier this year at a convention of J Street, a progressive Jewish lobby that is anathema to many Republicans.
“I am privileged to know Jeb Bush," Cheryl Halpern, a major GOP donor and former national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), said in a statement to Jewish Insider. "I am certain that Jeb will not only be a staunch defender of America and American values, but will also be a 'Shomer Yisrael,' a guardian of the special relationship with the State of Israel as well.”
While Bush led the Republican polls earlier this year, he ranked only fourth in a recent RealClearPolitics survey, behind political outsiders such as business people Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.