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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Romney arrives in Israel, most events closed to media

I thought he wasn't arriving in Israel until sometime on Sunday, but Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrived in Israel on Saturday evening, after the Sabbath ended. Reporters are not invited to much of the visit.
One thing Romney is sure to underline – in an effort to contrast himself with Obama -- is his cordial ties with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is scheduled to meet Netanyahu Sunday morning, and then again after the Tisha B'Av fast that day when he – and his wife Ann -- will dine at the Prime Minister's residence with Netanyahu and his wife., Sara.

In between those two meetings Romney will also meet President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Salam Fayyad.

Romney is also scheduled to give a foreign policy address in the late afternoon in Jerusalem, but reporters have not been invited to attend the event. Adding to the sense that Israel is a background prop for the Romney campaign is the fact that the press pool for the meeting with President Shimon Peres does not include any members of the Israeli media. Romney will also sit for an ABC interview from Israel.

Netanyahu and Romney are not scheduled to hold any significant joint public appearance, with Netanyahu very keen on not being perceived as in any way intervening in the US elections. The media will be limited to a photo op before the Sunday morning meeting.
The exclusion of the Israeli media is apparently Netanyahu's doing - he does not want to be seen as taking sides in the US election. Romney gave two interviews to the Israeli media before he left the US, although he also has said that he would not criticize President Obama on foreign soil.

Politico reports that Romney's Monday morning breakfast fundraiser will also be closed to the media.
Mitt Romney's campaign is barring members of the news media from attending a Monday fundraiser here, a change from their standard practice of making finance events open to a pool reporter.

Romney is slated to raise money from American citizens at the city's King David Hotel, but a campaign aide told reporters travelling with the Republican that they would not be allowed to have a representative present to record the event.

"Closed press," is all Romney press aide Rick Gorka would say when asked about the departure from their usual practice of letting reporters into fundraisers held in public venues.


But Romney officials may be uneasy about letting reporters listen to the candidate discuss sensitive foreign policy issues to what is expected to be a largely Jewish crowd given his pledge not to criticize President Obama on foreign soil. Romney has been harshly critical of the president on Israel policy.

Something else potentially giving pause to Boston: casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has given millions to Republicans and pro-Romney SuperPACs but is notably media-shy, is also expected to attend the gathering here.

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