President Biden’s response to the terrorist attacks against Israel may have given him a point of contrast with former President Donald Trump on foreign policy and leadership style.
Biden has drawn plaudits from both sides of the aisle for his unequivocal support for Israel, speaking in personal and visceral terms about the impact of the violence launched by Hamas, which has left more than 1,000 Israelis dead.
Democrats have not been shy about comparing Biden’s response to that of Trump, who has drawn backlash from members of his party for his criticisms of Israeli leadership in the wake of the attacks.
A source close to the Biden campaign argued the terrorist attacks in Israel underscore the need for experience and empathy in the White House and suggested voters will remember the way Biden handled the events over the last week.
“When Donald Trump praises Hezbollah and bashes Israel, he’s reminding Americans just how dangerous, erratic, callous, and out of touch he is with the American people in a moment of unspeakable tragedy. It’s a choice Americans will remember next November,” the source said.
Biden has also found support from unexpected voices, with some Republicans praising the administration or withholding criticism over its initial handling of the unfolding situation in the Middle East.
The head of the Republican Jewish Coalition told The New York Times that Biden had shown “unwavering support for Israel at a critical time.”
David Friedman, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Israel, credited the Biden administration for its “moral, tactical, diplomatic and military support” for Israel following the terrorist attacks.
Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) on Thursday said now is “not the time” to attack the Biden administration, calling on lawmakers from both sides to give “unwavering support” to Israel.
“You know how adamantly I disagree with what they’re doing, but as Republicans and Democrats, as legislators here in the United States of America, now’s not the time to attack the Biden administration; now’s the time to stand with the United States of America,” Van Orden said.
Biden has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regularly since the Oct. 7 attacks, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to Israel this week.
On Wednesday, Biden held a roundtable of Jewish leaders at the White House and grew emotional as he talked about bringing his children and grandchildren to the site of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. He pounded his fist on the lectern and raised his voice, saying he wanted them to see so they could understand what happened. It drew praise from the leaders in the room.
While it’s unclear how long the positive reception will last, it has undercut Trump in an area where the former president has a lengthy list of accomplishments.
Trump frequently touts himself as a staunchly pro-Israel president, citing his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, his recognition of the Golan Heights territory and the signing of the Abraham Accords, which sought to normalize relations between Israel and Arab nations.
On Friday, Trump praised the “skill and determination of the Israel Defence Forces.”
But that has largely been overshadowed by Trump’s comments questioning Jews who do not support him and his remarks Wednesday in which he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called Hezbollah, an Iran-backed terrorist group, “very smart.”
Those comments prompted a cascade of criticism from his GOP primary rivals, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, both of whom have been reluctant at times to go after Trump directly.
“We can’t have someone who’s so clouded with the past that they can’t see the future,” Haley said at a USA Today town hall in New Hampshire.
Trump’s comments also play into the Biden campaign’s hands because aides to the president believe foreign policy and leadership on the world stage is an area where Biden is strongest against his former and potentially future rival.
Biden allies also viewed his comments empathizing with the Jewish community and his focus on bringing home Americans held hostage by Hamas as further fuel for a contrast between Biden and Trump.
“He’s supremely empathetic, compassionate, and unflinching in moments like these — exactly what you want in a leader,” Jim Messina, who managed the 2012 Obama campaign, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.