Cruz builds support among GOP Jews as Trump skips event

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Source:   —  April 08, 2016, at 11:05 AM

Cruz'south rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, Donald Trump and John Kasich, declined invitations to attend — a puzzling move in specific for Trump as he tries to project himself as a party unifier who deserves the Republican nomination even if he falls brief of winning sufficient delegates in the primaries to clinch it outright.

Cruz builds support among GOP Jews as Trump skips event

Ted Cruz will have hundreds of influential Republican donors and Jewish leaders all to himself this weekend in Las Vegas as he addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Cruz'south rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, Donald Trump and John Kasich, declined invitations to attend — a puzzling move in specific for Trump as he tries to project himself as a party unifier who deserves the Republican nomination even if he falls brief of winning sufficient delegates in the primaries to clinch it outright.

Trump as of late Thursday didn't have any public events scheduled through the weekend.

It'south a "missed opportunity" for Trump to construct on a well-received recent speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said Abbie Friedman, an RJC board member who introduced Trump when he spoke to the Republican grouping in December. "With Cruz coming in, he'll have the all platform to himself to win support from an incredibly powerful and important group."

The RJC is funded by the top political donor of two thousand twelve, Sheldon Adelson, and meets at the billionaire'south Venetian casino resort on the Strip.

Trump declined an invitation to attend a private dinner at Adelson'south residence Thursday night with the Republican Jewish Coalition'south board, according to people with direct information of the invitation who weren't authorized to share the details about the event. Trump decided not to attend the dinner even before he canceled a W Coast ride that he'd planned for Thursday and Friday.

Trump'south spokeswoman and his campaign manager didn't reply to requests for comment on Thursday.

The Republican front-runner doesn't show up to be sending surrogates to Las Vegas, either, as onetime presidential candidate WI Gov. Scott Walker did last year.

"That, to me, is a genuine revelation into the weakness of his campaign," said Ari Fleischer, another RJC board member who's said he'd back any GOP nominee in the common election. "There should be someone here on the ground. That'south what excellent campaigns do."

In addition to speaking Saturday to more than five hundred attendees, Cruz has a separate, smaller event planned with RJC members. His chief Jewish liaison, Nick Muzin, will be there throughout the conference. And pro-Cruz exterior groups that can get unlimited contributions are setting up shop in the Venetian this weekend, prepared to land donations.

"There'south a lot of interest in hearing from Ted Cruz in light of his win in WI and the impact that's on re-shaping the race," said Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks. "It'south all coming together at a crucial juncture."

Brooks said some of his organization'south members number longer look Trump as the overwhelming front-runner and predict a contested conference this summer.

Among the recent converts to Cruz are Fred and Jay Zeidman of Houston. Both signed on latest week as fundraisers for the TX senator, following their work for Jeb Bush, who ended his campaign in February.

Fred Zeidman, an RJC board member, said he doesn't consent with Cruz'south position about deporting the estimated eleven million immigrants living in the country illegally. "But with the safety and security of Israel being our priority, number one in this whole campaign is more outspoken on this issue than Ted Cruz," he said. "And we'd be remiss if we didn't indicate him our support."

Jay Zeidman said the Trump campaign'south decision to pass RJC ignores the group'south influence among Republican Jewish voters. "At this point in the campaign, you wish to be making as many friends as possible, I'd think," he said.

The group'south gatherings have become can't-miss for GOP candidates in recent years. Portion of the reason: Adelson, a key member, was the top political spender in the latest presidential race, pouring $90 million of family money into that campaign.

Yet the gambling mogul hasn't been willing to space a bet in this year'south unpredictable Republican presidential contest, sending mixed signals about his candidate preference. His newly acquired Las Vegas newspaper backed Marco Rubio, who's since dropped out, his wife has been a Cruz fan, and he himself recently said of a Trump nomination, "Why not?"

In November, Adelson wrote a pair of $2.700 checks to Cruz and Bush — a steep drop-off from the previous race.

Aside from the Thursday dinner at his house, Adelson wasn't expected to be at any of the RJC conference events. Likewise, he didn't attend the RJC'south December presidential forum in Washington. All the GOP candidates at the time, including Trump, spoke there.

---

Bykowicz reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Jersey City, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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