GOP presidential contenders quick to praise Netanyahu after Israel vote
© Getty Images

Potential Republican presidential contenders were quick to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following his apparent victory in Tuesday's parliamentary elections.


Netanyahu and President Obama have long had a tense relationship, one has grown more publicly strained during Obama's negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and Netanyahu's decision to speak to Congress at the invitation of Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word Left flexes muscle in immigration talks MORE (R-Ohio), who did not consult the White House. 

Republicans have looked to use those tensions show that they're the only true friends to Israel and woo Evangelical Christian as well as Jewish supporters. The comments are the latest example of that.

Nearly every candidate in the Republican field sent out notes praising Israel's democratic elections and celebrating the better-than-expected showing Netanyahu's conservative Likud Party had. The one glaring exception is libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), who was mum about the elections.

Here's what each candidate had to say.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), via Facebook

"Congratulations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his re-election. He’s a true leader who will continue to keep Israel strong and secure."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), via twitter:

"Congratulations to @Netanyahu on a hard-earned victory. Now the U.S. and Israel must stand together and stand up to Iran."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Fla.):

"Today's parliamentary elections in Israel remind us of what unites our two countries and what distinguishes Israel, as the only true democracy in the Middle East, from its neighbors. Millions of Israelis took to the polls to choose their representatives, and ultimately shape the government that will guide their country in the coming years.   

"Now that the Israeli people have made their decisions, it is time for the Israeli political process to work.  Whatever the outcome of that process, the United States will continue to stand firmly with our ally, Israel. We will stand by the Israeli people and their duly elected political leadership."

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzEl Chapo's lawyer fires back at Cruz: 'Ludicrous' to suggest drug lord will pay for wall Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again MORE (R-Texas):

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has been an extraordinary leader for Israel, and I congratulate him on what appears to be a victory today. His electoral success is all the more impressive given the powerful forces that tried to undermine him, including, sadly, the full weight of the Obama political team. American officials should not be undermining the elected leaders of our closest allies, especially when Prime Minister Netanyahu's heroic – even Churchillian – opposition to a nuclear Iran has done such tremendous service to U.S. national security. The American people are proud to stand steadfastly with our Israeli brothers and sisters. May our friendship grow and prosper, and may the Nation of Israel stay forever strong."

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Warren: Officials have duty ‘to invoke 25th amendment’ if they think Trump is unfit MORE (R-S.C.):

"I want to congratulate the people of Israel on a successful and peaceful election.  The Israeli people, by their casting of ballots and voting for their leaders, showed the power of democracy in action.  I eagerly await the final results and the organization of a new government in Israel.

"Israel and the United States have a long and valued friendship and alliance.  We also have common values and share common enemies.  I look forward to continuing to build on a strong US-Israel relationship as we both seek to address the rise of radical Islam and the threat posed to both our nations by the Iranian nuclear program." 

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R):

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coming out on top proves that not even Obama's team could do the magic when Israelis know their existence is on the line.  Netanyahu is a Churchill in a world full of Chamberlains and I applaud his victory today and hope that it will result in the formation of a strong government.  As an American, I am embarrassed that the Obama Administration trusts Iran yet undermines and undercuts Israel. The polls have closed, the people have spoken and it is time for the U.S. government to stand with Israel once again."

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina (R), on CNN:

"I think this is a pretty clear mandate that the people of Israel respect and appreciate a very strong leader, and that is what Bibi Netanyahu has been."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.):

"Congratulations to my friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, on his re-election.  The Prime Minister has been a true friend to the United States and I join millions of my fellow Americans in congratulating this man of courage, candor, and strength.  In times like these, the World needs leaders who will stand up to the evil of Radical Islam.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is such a leader.  It is my great hope that our next President will be able to stand side-by-side with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as past presidents have and as we need if we hope to defeat this Radical Islamist enemy and ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon."