On the eve of New York State's presidential primaries, Republican hopeful Ted Cruz received an estimated $250,000 in campaign support at an April 18 benefit hosted by NORPAC, the New Jersey-based nonpartisan pro-Israel political action committee.
A day later, Cruz finished in last place in the Republican primary, winning only 14.5 percent of the vote. Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich finished second with 35.1 percent, and New York builder Donald Trump swept the state with 60.5 percent.
The sum was more than double the amount the senator from Texas received last Dec. 9 at a NORPAC breakfast fund-raiser in Englewood, but less than the $400,000 earned when the group held an event for Democratic contender Hillary Clinton at a Jan. 14 fund-raiser in Manhattan.
NORPAC has held no benefits for Republican candidates Trump and Kasich or Democrat Bernie Sanders.
The morning after the gathering with Cruz at the Harvard Club in Manhattan (the candidate is a 1995 graduate of the university’s law school), NORPAC president Ben Chouake of Englewood told NJ Jewish News that “he spoke well, and everybody understood his support of our issues. A lot of the discussion was about his strategy for winning the Republican nomination, but he spent most of the time saying hello to the 200 people in the room and thanking them for their support. A lot of them had been with his campaign for a while,” said Chouake, a delegate who will be supporting Cruz at the Republican National Convention in July.
Although Cruz “didn’t bash anyone,” said Chouake, “he said it was important for him to be elected because if Donald Trump is the nominee, the Republicans will not only lose the race but probably the Senate, and seats in the House as well.”
Asked about NORPAC members’ support of Cruz’s key opponent, Chouake said, “There have got to be people in our organization who support Trump, but most Republicans I know support Cruz.”
“In terms of how Trump or Hillary Clinton would be supportive of U.S.-Israel relations,” Chouake said, “I don't think either of them would be as big a supporter as Ted Cruz, who happens to be a Christian Zionist. Israel is deeply important to him, not only policy-wise but as a spiritual matter. You are not going to get that in either Hillary or Trump. They will both be good on the issue and have long histories of supporting Israel — but Cruz is different.”