Thu, December 08, 2011
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GOP candidates woo Jewish support

2011-12-07 21:46:22 GMT2011-12-08 05:46:22(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

U.S. Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, capital of the United States, on Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Republican presidential contender Rick Perry delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum delivers a speech during the 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Forum hosted by Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Dec. 7, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- All but one major U.S. Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday attended the Republican Jewish Coalition's forum to woo support of the group, touting their commitment to Israel.

Except for Texas Representative Ron Paul, main GOP candidates took turns to speak at the Washington forum to charm the group. Mitt Romney, who is facing a surging Newt Gingrich in polls less than a month away from the Iowa caucuses, repeated his pledge to make Israel the first destination of his foreign visit, should he win the White House next year.

Romney blasted President Barack Obama for being weak against Iran, whose nuclear program worries Israel. The Islamic state insisted its nuclear program is for civilian use only.

"I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them dearly," said Romney.

Jon Huntsman also said it is "unacceptable" for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, saying for him, "all options are on the table" to stop that scenario from materializing.

Gingrich, who is emerging as a front-runner in the field, said he would support efforts of "regime replacement" in Iran and Syria, while Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is struggling in polls because of a series of blunders, promised to increase "strategic aid in all forms" to Israel.

Although small in number, the Jewish community has an outsized influence on politics thanks to their generous contribution to political figures. It is one of the most loyal voting bloc for Democrats, but its support for Obama has been waning.

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