Democrats target Republicans on 'zeroing out' policy
November 16th, 2011
09:24 PM ET
11 years ago

Democrats target Republicans on 'zeroing out' policy

(CNN) - National Democrats hammered GOP presidential hopefuls over foreign policy on Wednesday, arguing that three major candidates aim to cut all foreign aid to Israel.

The Democratic National Committee teamed up with President Barack Obama's re-election campaign to target Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for saying they would start all foreign aid commitments at "zero," then force governments to prove why they should earn assistance from the United States.

The candidates made their points in a Republican presidential debate on Saturday in South Carolina.

"Every country would start at zero," Perry said. "Obviously, Israel is a special ally. And my bet is that we would be funding them - at some substantial level. But it makes sense for everyone to come in at zero and make your case."

Both Gingrich and Romney said they agreed with Perry that the U.S. should "start everything at zero."

Democrats responded this week saying the three candidates "raced each other to the extremes of Tea Party isolationism" and sought to paint the three Republicans as misguided on Israel in a statement Wednesday.

"It's outrageous and dangerous - and it shows a critical ignorance of how a president needs to act," said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. "It is never responsible to raise doubts about our commitment to the security of a key ally like Israel."

Wasserman Schultz directed readers to Obama's campaign website where they can sign a petition in protest of the three candidates' comments.

"The cuts these candidates propose wouldn't make a dent in the deficit, but they would wreak absolute havoc on our foreign policy and America's standing in the world," Wasserman Schultz said.

But Romney's campaign has since maintained he was referring to Pakistan when he sided with Perry on the "zeroing out" policy and said he supports increasing military aid to Israel.

"The Democrats dishonest attack is a desperate attempt to distract from President Obama's derisive remarks about Israel's Prime Minister," said Andrea Saul, spokesperson for Romney. "At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House."

Perry's team said the Texas governor has long been a friend of Israel and would continue to support the state if elected to the White House.

"Governor Perry has always been a strong supporter of Israel and was very clear in the recent debate that his support for Israel would continue as President," said Mark Miner, spokesman for Perry, in a statement.

Gingrich's campaign also expressed support for Israel in responding to the Democrats' attacks:

"In a merit-based foreign aid system, Israel is the last country that would need to worry about losing American support," press secretary R.C. Hammond said in an e-mail.

Also see:

Gingrich touts strategy chops in lobbyist defense

Citizenship check causes controversy at Perry event

Romney remains overwhelming favorite in New Hampshire

Filed under: Debbie Wasserman Schultz • DNC • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Rick Perry
soundoff (15 Responses)

    Once again we see that neither of these war mongers need to be trusted with the safety and security of America. Neither one of them can lead a pack of hungry wolves to a side of fresh beef! Leadershi*

    November 16, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Oh please. Just like at that photo of the "big" three! If that doesn't scare you to vote against the teapublikans nothing can.

    November 16, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  3. CR

    I totally agree all countries should start at zero and stay there until we get on our feet.

    November 16, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. New Age Independent

    As opposed to Obama who has single-handedly damaged our relationship with Israel more than any president in our history? Please, spare me the partisan drivel.

    November 16, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Ziioon!

    When will the Democrats realize that Republicans congressmen/ senators or even a republican president is just a mere stooge of special interest groups basically GOP is wholly owned subsidiary by lobbyists , wall streets and big oil. Look forks who writes their tax code? of course its mr. Grover Norquist and they have to sing a loyalty pledege to him. Again whats their foreign policy! its just start with a single word fearmongering!! the Republicans haven't moved from " you are either with us or against us" their narrow, shallow world view makes Cheney looks like a genious!!..

    November 16, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. T'sah From Virginia

    ►"At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House."◄

    OMG – Really??? The Republicans project that THIS PRESIDENT – President Obama – is NOT going to back Israel if the ShitZ-kabob hits the fan!!!! Come on now!! We don't have to WIPE ash to KICK ash!!!!

    The Republicans want the American people to believe that they go to bed with Israel every night.............GET REAL!!!

    OBAMA 2012!!!!

    November 16, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It doesn't sound like they really understand how aid to foreign countries really helps us in "soft power." I don't think that they understand how soft power works and only understand hard power like soldiers fighting and tank firing their guns.

    November 16, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. Max Powers

    Shut up Debbie. Neither party needs to be handing our tax dollars to Israel.

    November 16, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. DaveinSC

    Romney and Perry.... Don't believe a thing I said just because I said it. LOL

    November 16, 2011 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. F Daniel Gray

    talk about red herrings? There is NO dispute. First, there is a "new/different" plan. Then, the "uproar" about how dangerous and upsetting it all is. Then The retraction: "well, I didn't mean Israel, we know it's a special case." I don't know why it is or should be, but no matter. Oh, Pakistan? Uh, we need Pakistan more than they need us, so they will also, get a "pass." WE don't send any aid money to Cuba, the DPRK, so that's not an issue. We pay Venezuela for the oil they sell us. The presidential campaign hasn't even started and the contending "parties" are running out of things to say already?Boy, I tell you, those OWS better get busy and stir something up. On the other hand, there are fires burning all around us at home, and no one is interested. Especially the media who will reply, if asked, "yeah, yeah, yeah, all that stuff is "old" news. That is, unless someone named Lohan, kardashian, Moore, Hilton et al is involved. Oh, one more thing, another/different flavor of the week, read republican contender, "emerges" at the top of the "tag you're it" circus.

    November 16, 2011 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  11. Henry Miller

    We should have cut all foreign aid to Israel decades ago–if we had, the Gulf wars, Afghanistan, and 9/11 would likely never have happened. Is Israel really worth all that–the thousands of lives lost, the trillions of dollars wasted–to us?

    November 16, 2011 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. Marla

    Wow, it's funny to watch them say one thing for their base, and then back-pedal when the media calls them out on it.

    November 16, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  13. Cody

    We should always re-evaluate who we give aid and why. That doesnt mean we need to drop it to zero and cause panic just to re-evaluate it.

    November 16, 2011 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  14. Larry L

    Oddly enough I support the elimination of aid to Israel. What is the actual benefit of that expenditure of American taxpayer money? They don't have oil, they spy on us as if we were their enemy, and they continue to expand their realm into land traditionally used by others.

    November 17, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  15. Augustine zamora

    We the pepole of the U.S of .A havent one bit of shame on the fact that the U.S was not ours to begein with. Every non native indian or mexican in the U.S today no matter wear your origanlly from. How would like sum stranger from across a major ocean run up on your land telling you an your family : were more important then you so get out an dont come back: i dont recall the holy bible saying god ever had an army of pepole not his owen. To rise up in my name sail across great bodys of water an claim your land i set aside for every body who knows my name. Act like an adult not needy chilldren. People stood up for the freedom of south africa only not even once for the freedom of north mexico or north america. Americans who think other wise are full of hate an lies. The fact is your origanl countrys wear you belomg dont respect you for leaveing them claimimg its the only way to a better life. Why should they when you turned your backs on your own people an land. Thats a real fact of life. America was stolen by u

    November 17, 2011 03:59 am at 3:59 am |