Midday on Thursday, Donald Trump gave a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition. These are three real things that he said:
- "Stupidly, you want to give money. ...You're not going to support me because I don't want your money."
- "I'm a negotiator, like you folks."
- "Is there anyone in this room who doesn't negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I've ever spoken."
The nicest thing that you can say about these comments is that they play on ancient stereotypes of Jews as money-grubbing merchants. The meanest thing you can say is that they're outright anti-Semitic. The crowd appeared to laugh it off, but observers watching the speech were struck:
Trump to the Republican Jewish Coalition: "You're not going to support me because I don't want your money." What the hell does that mean?— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) December 3, 2015
You have to give plaudits to Donald Trump for chutzpah. Who else gives a border line anti-Semitic speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition?— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) December 3, 2015
The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) December 3, 2015
That wasn't the end of Trump's problems during the address. When asked about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the candidate whiffed. He refused to tell the strongly pro-Israel group whether he thought Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, and was outright booed. He appeared to apportion blame to Israel for the failure of the peace process, and the room was dead silent.
Trump doubles down at RJC: "I don’t know that Israel has the commitment to make it" You can hear a pin drop— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) December 3, 2015
Trump on peace process is like having a conversation with an 11 year-old.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) December 3, 2015
Again, there was some applause for other pro-Israel comments, as well as digs at President Obama and Bernie Sanders. But overall, it was an utterly baffling address to give to a group of Republican Jews. It suggests that Trump isn't just "politically incorrect" when talking about Democratic-voting groups like Latinos and women but rather that he actually can't help himself from engaging in nasty stereotypes. And he can't even figure out the right talking points to use when speaking to a pro-Israel crowd, a deeply important constituency in the Republican Party.
People Trump has insulted in this campaign (partial list): 1. Jews 2. The disabled 3. Muslims 4. Women 5. Immigrants 6. Refugees 7. Blacks— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 3, 2015
So to recap: Trump stood in front of an audience of Jews and told them that they were all about money and making deals. He stood in front of a pro-Israel crowd and told them Israel was (at least partially) to blame for the failure to come to terms with the Palestinians.
Despite the applause, it's hard to characterize that as anything but a disaster.