WASHINGTON – Today is the biggest day of the 2016 GOP presidential campaign for front runner Donald Trump. He will give his first major foreign policy speech before the very powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee and their 18,000 representatives who are meeting in the Nation’s Capital through Tuesday.
It will be the first scripted speech that Trump has given this campaign season and it will mark the first time he will be judged against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich along with lead off speaker former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If Trump wants to impress on the world stage then a strong speech to AIPAC today is very important.
Meanwhile, Trump will host a group of nearly two dozen influential Republicans on Monday afternoon for an off-the-record gathering that his allies hope will improve his relationship with the congressional GOP and the party’s Washington establishment, according to two people who were invited.
The meeting is Trump’s first major meeting with lawmakers and key Republican figures since last fall, when he met with a smaller group at the Capitol after his speech at a protest against the Iranian nuclear agreement.
Several members of the House and Senate are expected to participate, plus a bevy of consultants and veteran power brokers, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss the session.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the populist-right favorite who endorsed Trump last month, and Trump campaign counsel Donald F. McGahn organized the meeting along with Trump’s advisers. The venue will be McGahn’s law firm, Jones Day, which is a short walk from the Capitol.
Trump will have a chance to make his case why the GOP establishment should embrace him and more importantly he will have chance to prove he can unite the party. A good day with the party establishment could go a long way to making a possible convention hijacking of the nomination less likely.
However, there is no question that Trump’s most important time will spent speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The world will be watching Trump in his first big speech to the world on some of his foreign policy plans.
The Middle East will be center stage and the question will be about Trump who supports Israel, but has said in an attempt broker a deal with the Palestinians he would be neutral. Something that will no doubt cause some questions among the AIPAC delegates.
Trump supporters at AIPAC feel that if he gives a strong and well thought out speech could secure him a nod from pro-Israel sympathizers which he currently lacks, at the expense of widening splits among American Jews already sharply divided over Israel and domestic U.S. policies
At the same time, rabbinical leaders are calling for protests during Trump’s speech, and some even threaten a walkout. Rabbis Michael Knopf and Jesse Olitzsky write that when Trump takes the podium at the conference, “we plan on walking out, joined by hundreds of other rabbis and conference participants.”
They will be protesting Trumps attacks on his comments about women, immigrants, Muslims and the disabled. Any protest is expected to be quiet and most of all peaceful, something that AIPAC officials have made clear to all of its delegates.
We will see how the Trump handles both AIPAC and the Republican establishment on a very important day in Washington.