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National

Trump Criticized For Using Stereotypes While Speaking To Republican Jewish Coalition

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Donald Trump's habit of speaking his mind has won him the praise of many Republicans who say they are tired of traditional politicians. But some who heard his freewheeling remarks to a Jewish group in Washington yesterday were taken aback by what sounded like Jewish stereotypes invoked throughout his speech. NPR's Sarah McCammon was there.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, most of the party's presidential hopefuls were careful to appeal to politically conservative Jewish voters. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among several who promised to help strengthen Israel's position in the Middle East.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: We need a president who will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: And, you know, the state of Israel is also great because it's underpinned by you.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I will finally move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAMMON: That was Cruz followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. And there was Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: You just like me because my daughter happens to be Jewish.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Right?

MCCAMMON: Who opted for a less traditional pitch.

TRUMP: The only bad news, I can't get her on Saturday. I call and call. I can't.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAMMON: Trump's reference to the Jewish Sabbath drew quite a few laughs, as did this line, where he promised to renegotiate President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

TRUMP: I really believe the Iran deal. Look, I'm a negotiator like you folks. We're negotiators.

MCCAMMON: And about 10 minutes later, Trump made the point again.

TRUMP: Is there anybody that doesn't renegotiate deals in this room? This room negotiates that. I want to renegotiate - this room...

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: ...Perhaps more than any room I've ever spoken to.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAMMON: Trump also said even though he'd be the best thing that ever happened to Israel, the crowd wasn't likely to support him.

TRUMP: Because I don't want your money. Isn't it crazy?

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: No, it's true. You know, if I wanted your money, I think I'd have a damn good chance, and I think I'd get more money than anybody else.

MCCAMMON: Trump added that he knew the crowd of Jewish voters wanted to donate candidates because, quote, "you want to control your own politician."

LARRY HABER: He called out virtually every standard Jewish stereotype.

MCCAMMON: That's Larry Haber of Stamford, Conn. Haber said he found Trump's comments possibly anti-Semitic.

HABER: I found it completely disgraceful and disgusting. He's possibly the only person that would give me reason to vote for Hillary Clinton.

MCCAMMON: Trump's speech provoked similar criticism online. A headline from the Times of Israel read, Trump courts Republican Jews with offensive stereotypes. But not everyone saw it that way. The Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying Trump's comments did not appear to intentionally invoke stereotypes but also asking Trump to clarify his remarks. Phil Rosenthal of New York City said he wasn't offended, but he thought Trump made a misstep with another comment.

PHIL ROSENTHAL: Obviously, there was one moment where he got in a little trouble because everyone here, I believe, is united that there must be a united Jerusalem.

MCCAMMON: Asked the politically sensitive question of whether Jerusalem should be Israel's capital, Trump said he'd answer after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

TRUMP: I'm leaving for Israel in a very short period of time. I know. I know what you're saying. I just want to...

MCCAMMON: That provoked boos from the crowd to which Trump responded...

TRUMP: Who's the wise guy? Do me a favor. Just relax, OK. You'll like me very much, believe me, OK.

MCCAMMON: And with that, Trump essentially told the audience of Jewish Republicans the same thing he's promised other groups he's been accused of insulting. Trust me. I'll be great. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.