Tags: Barack Obama | Donald Trump | netanyahu | mclaughlin

Netanyahu Will Win Again, John McLaughlin Predicts to Newsmax

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Benjamin Netanyahu (Ronen Zyulun/AP)

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Friday, 07 June 2019 10:53 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu gears up for Israel’s “do-over” Sept. 17 election, one thing that can be assured of the controversial five-time prime minister is that he will have American pollster John McLaughlin at his side.

McLaughlin, who has worked for Netanyahu since 2005, predicted to Newsmax another no punches-pulled campaign by the conservative prime minister.

“And Bibi Netanyahu will win again,” the pollster said without hesitation. 

New Yorker McLaughlin was a pivotal player in Netanyahu winning the last election on April 9. He also is a longtime pollster for numerous winning Republican candidates in the U.S., notably Donald Trump.

As Netanyahu was in the throes of the last campaign, he actually brought McLaughlin out to meet Israeli reporters and give a selective view of the strategy he utilized that eventually put Netanyahu’s Likud Party over the center-left Blue-and-White Alliance  led by former Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

“Bibi’s strength is security,” McLaughlin told Newsmax, recalling how the prime minister’s party was losing to Gantz on Thursday before the balloting April 9.

But on Tuesday, Election Day, Netanyahu had pulled ahead after the Palestinian fundamentalist group Hamas fired rockets into Israel.

Coupled with a brief spurt of advertising “that defined Gantz and [Alliance partner Yair] Lapid as leftists,” the attack by Hamas underscored Likud’s theme that “Bibi was a strong leader and Israel desperately needs him,” McLaughlin told us.

In a photo finish, Netanyahu’s Likud won 35 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament).  But the 30 seats won by religious and secular right-of-center parties were enough for Netanyahu to get the mandate to form the government once again. The remaining 55 seats went to Blue and White and other left-of-center and Arab parties.

But it was not to be. Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman refused to commit his secular right-of-center Yisrael Beiteinu party to a coalition headed by Netanyahu. The sticking point was a proposed change in the law making it easier for Orthodox men to be exempted from conscription into military service. 

Orthodox parties who backed Netanyahu supported the measure, but secular Jew Liberman was adamantly opposed. His party refused to commit its five seats to back Netanyahu and kept his coalition below the 61-seat threshold required to form a government.

Accordingly, the government was dissolved and a new election ordered for September by the Israel's president.

With the voting in three months, McLaughlin left little doubt that “Team Netanyahu” would continue to pound home the themes of security and that opposition leaders Gantz and Lapid were leftists. 

In addition, Netanyahu closely identified himself with another famous McLaughlin client.  Posters and billboards showing Netanyahu with Trump were common sights in Tel Aviv and other voter hubs.  Netanyahu frequently spiced campaign speeches, with references to “my friend Donald.”

“Trump is almost considered a Jew by most Israelis,” former Reagan Administration official Marshall Breger, who has known Netanyahu for four decades, told Newsmax.  He cited the president’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

“And Obama,” Breger noted, “is considered an Arab by most Israelis.”

The Iran deal crafted by former President Barack Obama and scrapped by Trump in his first year in office also has been a potent issue for Netanyahu and Likud.

“The last election [in 2015] was all about the Iran deal,” McLaughlin recalled, noting that then-House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress and Obama’s refusal to meet with the prime minister during his visit all helped to boost Netanyahu and Likud to victory.

McLaughlin recalled that the ’15 campaign clearly evinced signs Obama wanted Netanyahu out as prime minister. 

“Jeremy Bird, a top Obama campaign strategist, was advising an independent expenditure known as V-15 that was reaching out to 750,000 Israeli voters to support ‘Anybody but Bibi,’ he said.

One problem the pollster sees as a perpetual stumbling block for Netanyahu is that “the left-wing press in Israel continues to hammer at him, just as they do here against Trump.  The only difference is that Israel doesn’t have its own Fox News to hit back.”

McLaughlin first met Netanyahu in 1994.   Nine years later, the American pollster was advising the Israeli politician, who was finance minister under then-Prime Minister and fellow Likud member Ariel Sharon.  When Sharon broke with his party and formed his own Kadima Party, Netanyahu stepped up to be Likud’s leader. 

It goes without saying that just as Obama very much wanted Netanyahu to lose in 2015, his successor in the White House is just as committed to seeing him remain in power.

“President Trump will do what he can to keep Bibi as prime minister, but at the end of the day, it’s running a campaign based on strength and security that will make the difference,” said McLaughlin, “If it’s done right, Bibi Netanyahu will win again.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu gears up for Israel’s “do-over” Sept. 17 election, one thing that can be assured of the controversial five-time prime minister is that he will have American pollster John McLaughlin at his side.
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2019-53-07
Friday, 07 June 2019 10:53 AM
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