Romney raises more than $1 million in Jerusalem

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 10:39am

Mitt Romney's final stop in Israel - a fund-raising breakfast at a historic hotel in central Jerusalem Monday - was a chance for the presumptive Republican nominee to describe in personal detail the impact of his trip to the country.

It was also an opportunity to bring in more than $1 million to his campaign coffers, and make inroads with a few of the Republican Party's biggest donors, including the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who sat directly to Romney's left at the breakfast.

Speaking about his two day stay in Jerusalem, Romney said he was again impacted by the city's profound spiritual significance.

"I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God," Romney told the group.

Joining Romney at the King David Hotel was his wife Ann, who also accompanied him Sunday for a trip to Jerusalem's Western Wall, and his son Josh. Both Romney's wife and son spoke to the donors, which included Adelson and his wife Miriam, and Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets.

Adelson was a major backer of Newt Gingrich during the GOP primary, donating tens of millions to the super PAC supporting the former House speaker. In June he made a major donation to the super PAC supporting Romney, and a source with knowledge of his plans said he could donate as much as $100 million to GOP causes this election cycle.

Adelson - whose wife Miriam is an Israel-born physician - is also a major backer of Birthright, which helps finance trips to the country for Jewish young people.

At Monday's fund-raiser, Romney drew a connection between Israel and America, saying both were successful countries that others were trying to harm.

"We face some real challenges, nonetheless, and perhaps in part because of the great success of these places, this home of yours, my home of America, that some are troubled by our success and seek to bring us down," Romney said.

The candidate compared Israel's GDP with other Middle Eastern countries, saying higher personal wealth among citizens was an indication that Israel was accomplishing something its neighbors were not.

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," Romney said.

Figures on the United Nations' website actually indicate a much greater disparity between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel had a per capita GDP of $27,060 in 2009, while the 2009 per capita GDP of the occupied Palestinian territory was listed as $1,367.

Romney said that looking at Jerusalem and the achievements of the Jewish people, "I recognize power of culture."

Ann Romney, speaking about her son's first trip to Israel, said it was impossible not to be "touched" when visiting Jerusalem's holy sites.

"I think your heart would have to be made of stone not to feel what is still here, with the molecules of the stones, and everything, still testifies of something that was so extraordinary that happened in this place," Ann Romney said.

Monday's fund-raiser was the final stop in Jerusalem, which also included meetings with Israeli leaders and a speech. The candidate's final stop on his week-long foreign tour is Poland.


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