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The Brief: Sept. 21, 2011

Rick Perry's been to Israel more times than any other presidential candidate. But will his Mideast policy win him Jewish votes?

Gov. Rick Perry listens to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's speech at an event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Aug. 14, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Rick Perry's been to Israel more times than any other presidential candidate. But will his Mideast policy win him Jewish votes?

At a press conference in New York City on Tuesday, Perry, flanked by pro-Jewish leaders, issued a strong defense of Israel, accusing President Obama of pursuing a policy of "appeasement toward the Palestinians." Perry's comments came as Palestine prepares to push the United Nations for membership as a state.

"Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous," Perry said, later adding, “Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.”

With Obama straining to maintain relations with some Israeli leaders and pro-Israel hardliners, and with the GOP having captured a congressional seat in a heavily Jewish New York district last week, some Republicans see an opening in 2012 among a constituency that has reliably voted Democratic for decades.

But as Politico reports, despite his trips to Israel for trade missions as agriculture commissioner, Perry's outreach to Jewish leaders has rarely extended outside the state, and his overt religiosity — including The Response, the massive prayer rally he held in August before announcing for president — has given some of them pause.

“I think The Response was a tremendous mistake,” Fred Zeidman, a major Jewish fundraiser in Texas who otherwise calls himself a longtime friend of Perry's, told Politico. “I thought it was a major mistake to do, and I thought it was an even bigger mistake to partner with the people he’s partnered with.”

But Perry's spokesman Mark Miner said the governor has drawn strong Jewish support in Texas for years. “He’s always enjoyed support from the Jewish community because of what he believes,” Miner said. “He’s a man of strong religious convictions, but he’s always been a supporter of the Jewish community and Israel through his words and actions.”

Culled:

  • The Perry campaign has released a thundering new video that bypasses the Republican primary and instead takes direct aim at Barack Obama, whom it gravely dubs "President Zero."
  • The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Gov. Rick Perry has dissolved his blind trust, where his investments have been held for the past 15 years. In 2010, the use of blind trusts — which politicians often use to avoid conflicts of interest — emerged briefly as a campaign issue between Perry and opponent Bill White. By revealing the contents of the trust, Perry appears to be prepping for 2012 and, as Politico notes, taking a "modest step toward addressing the perception that he and his administration have been something less than transparent."
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, for the third time this year, halted the execution of death row inmate Cleve Foster, whose lawyers say received deficient legal assistance at his original trial. Foster's reprieve is the second the Supreme Court has granted in Texas within the past week.
  • In the latest conference realignment twist, the Austin American-Statesman reports that Texas and Oklahoma's hopes of joining the Pac-12 were dashed Tuesday night amid concerns over the Longhorn Network. A "well-placed administrative source from a league school" told the Statesman earlier Tuesday that there was a 50 percent chance that the Big 12 could stay together — a scenario that Texas favors.

"That is how those schemes work." — U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., asked Tuesday whether he agreed with Rick Perry's characterization of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme

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