Tuesday, September 30, 2014 — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas will be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America in late November, giving him an audience of some of the nation’s most influential Jewish leaders, including casino magnate and political financier Sheldon Adelson.
“We’re inviting him because he’s one of Israel’s greatest friends,” the organization’s president, Morton Klein, said. Klein said he expects as many as 1,000 attendees at the dinner, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Nov. 23.
Cruz, who is considering a bid for the White House in 2016, has been focusing heavily on foreign policy in recent weeks to carve out a space for himself in what’s expected to be a large Republican presidential field. He has also been outspoken in his defense of Israel, including at a recent event for Christians in the Middle East where he was booed for saying, “Christians have no greater friend than the Jewish state.”
Other potential 2016 candidates have courted ZOA, as well. In 2013, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and is considering another bid in 2016, was the headline speaker. And Sen. Rand Paul has spoken to ZOA’s annual lobbying missions to Washington.
Klein said the invitation to Cruz was about his support of Israel, not his presidential aspirations.
Perhaps the most important audience member for Cruz will be Adelson, who spent nearly $100 million with his wife trying to influence the 2012 campaigns. The Adelsons will be at the dinner to hand out an award named after them.
This article appears in the September 30, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.