The Top Democratic Candidates for President Are Skipping AIPAC This Year

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Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren are all skipping the annual AIPAC conference this year. So are Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, and Jay Inslee. Howard Schultz, the Starbuck CEP who says he plans to run for president as an independent, is also passing on the AIPAC conference.

The #SkipAIPAC movement, which has its own moderately popular hashtag on Twitter, is being pushed by the left-wing Move On says that AIPAC peddles “anti-Arab” and “anti-Arab” points of view; the group is urging all Democrats to bow out of the three-day AIPAC conference, which will kick off in Washington DC on Sunday, March 24. So far, plenty of Democrats are still on board with the conference; New York Senator Chuch Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are both expected to speak at the event, among other high-profile Democrats and Republicans. Vice President Mike Pence will headline the event, as will Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bernie Sanders Says AIPAC ‘Provides a Platform for Leaders Who Express Bigotry

GettyBernie Sanders

A spokesman for the Bernie Sanders campaign told Bloomberg News that the Vermont Senator is skipping AIPAC because of his concerns about some of the group’s affiliations. Josh Orton, the campaign’s policy director, said that Sanders is “concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.”

The other Democrats skipping out on the conference didn’t respond to media inquiries about their motivations; they simply said they would not attend. Meanwhile, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, who has hinted that he’s considering a run for president in 2020, has confirmed that he will be attending AIPAC. (De Blasio has not confirmed whether he will run, although he has recently visited the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. His most recent events in New Hampshire drew only tiny crowds.) AIPAC thanked de Blasio for agreeing to attend the event, tweeting, “Looking forward to seeing you in D.C. for #AIPAC2019 @NYCMayor @BilldeBlasio!”

President Trump Reportedly Told Donors that ‘Democrats Hate Jewish People’ & Is Backing Calls for a ‘Jexodus’ from the Democratic Party

Attendees at a Mar a Lago fundraiser earlier this month told Axios that the president told donors that “the Democrats hate Jewish people.” Trump apparently talked about the recent controversy around Ilhan Omar, the freshman representative from Minnesota who has criticized AIPAC’s impact on policy making. The president apparently added that he could not understand how any Jew could vote for a Democrat.

President Trump has also echoed calls for a “Jexodus,” the name given to a movement that calls for Jewish voters to leave the Democratic party and vote Republican. The president tweeted earlier this month, “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.” Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus.”

Trump also told reporters that Ilhan Omar’s remarks prove that Democrats have become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party. white House press secretary Sarah Sanders refused to respond directly to questions about the president’s remarks, but she said, instead, “The president has … laid out clearly his position on this matter,” Sanders said. “Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that.”