The week in politics: Dueling convention rabbis, Nazi name-dropping, Huckabee vs. DWS

Charlotte, N.C. (JTA) — A weekly roundup of political news. 

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Elephants, donkeys and rabbis

Republicans and Democrats may not agree on much, but they do share a bipartisan commitment to rabbis. Both parties called on big-name rabbis to bless their respective conventions. Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a rising star in Modern Orthodoxy and a member of a famed rabbinic family, delivered an invocation on the first full day of the Republican convention. Democrats, meanwhile, tapped Rabbi David Wolpe, a bestselling author and spiritual leader of the Conservative-affiliated Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, to give an invocation on the second day of their convention.

Nazi name-dropping

The chairman of California’s Democratic Party drew a bipartisan backlash when he invoked the Nazi propaganda minister in criticizing Republicans. “They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie,” the state party’s chairman, John Burton, said in a radio interview on Monday. “As long as you lie, Joseph Goebbels, the big lie, you keep repeating it, you know.” He said that GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan in his convention speech told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt  criticized Burton’s remarks. “That obviously doesn’t represent the views of the campaign,” LaBolt said. “There’s no place for that in the political discourse.”

Romney, Israel and Iran

Mitt Romney’s speech to the Republican convention included some digs at President Obama’s record on Iran and Israel. After acknowledging President Obama’s green light for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Romney added: “But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat.” And, repeating a formulation that he has used previously, Romney accused Obama of having “thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”

Biden pans Romney speech

Unsurprisingly, Vice President Joe Biden was not so fond of Romney’s convention address. Biden slammed the GOP nominee’s foreign policy pronouncements. “He implies by the speech that he’s ready to go to war in Syria and Iran,” Biden said. Romney, however, actually did not mention Syria in his address.

Huckabee mocks Wasserman Schultz

Mike Huckabee, in his address to the Republican National Convention, took a swipe at Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chair of the Democratic National Committee. “Tampa has been such a wonderful and hospitable city to us. The only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine,” the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister said. “Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz practicing her speech for the DNC in Charlotte next week. Bless her heart.” Wasserman Schultz suggested that the dig “shows that Mike Huckabee has a problem with a strong woman’s voice.”

Israel takes center stage

Israel got passing mentions in several Republican convention speeches. But the Jewish state took center stage at the convention with a video shown to the entire gathering that highlighted the GOP nominee’s commitment to Israel. The one-and-a-half-minute video featured footage of Romney’s July visit to Israel and several excerpts from his speech in Jerusalem.

Saluting Ron Paul selectively

Was the Republican convention embracing Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) or keeping him at arm’s length? The National Jewish Democratic Council had slammed convention organizers for their decision to show a tribute video to the former GOP presidential hopeful, while the Republican Jewish Coalition praised the party for not allowing the congressman to address the gathering. The video featured GOP luminaries praising Paul’s dogged advocacy for radically limiting government’s size and scope. It made no mention, however, of Paul’s equally passionate advocacy on behalf of foreign policy ideas that have helped make him anathema to supporters of Israel and many others. Yet in a defiant rally in Tampa before the GOP convention, Paul stressed that his foreign policy ideas are central to his movement. Paul was introduced at that rally by his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who, unlike his father, endorsed Romney and addressed the Republican convention.

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