With American attention turning toward the growing war between Israel and Hamas, Republican presidential candidate suggested Saturday in Iowa that America’s other war-torn ally may be running out of runway.
The South Carolina Senator has backed past military support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. But speaking Saturday to an audience at a Maquoketa restaurant, Scott said he believes America should be shifting its focus to supporting Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, and that he believes the U.S. could meet its goals in Ukraine “in the next several months.”
Asked what he believes would constitute victory in Ukraine, Scott raised three main points: degrading the Russian military, dismantling the “axis of evil” rising between Russia, China and Iran “to the extent possible,” and keeping U.S. service members out of the conflict.
“If we can achieve that in the next several months, and I think it can be achieved, I think we’ll be better off,” Scott said.
Although there is no sign the war in Ukraine will end in the coming months, Scott criticized a recent $105 billion budget request from President Joe Biden, including $61 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel. He called that proposal “a bad deal” and said America should be focusing its resources on Israel over Ukraine.
The two nations face very different military challenges, however, and the $14 billion Biden has proposed to send to Israel exceeds the $10 billion Israel has reportedly asked for, according to the New York Times.
Scott defends Israel’s actions in war
Although many attendees applauded Scott’s promises to support Israel, one attendee argued the country’s campaign against Gaza has gone too far. Jaclyn Terrell of Maquoketa asked Scott, “How can we target Hamas and not target the innocent women and children, not giving them water, not giving them food, bombing hospitals?”
Scott responded that reports earlier this week that Israel had bombed a Gaza hospital appear to be unfounded, and contrasted Israel’s conduct with the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7.
“(Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu) sent out the word days ago to leave that region of Gaza,” he said. “He gave them what his people did not receive.”
Terrell, 30, said afterward that she was a registered Democrat who is open to voting for a Republican in 2024, but that she wasn’t satisfied with Scott’s answer.
“I can’t jump Republican with a non-humanitarian response that’s just ‘kill them all,'” she said.
On speaker race, Scott warns division strengthens Democrats
Scott also was asked for his thoughts on the tumult in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is in now in its third week with no elected speaker amid bitter infighting among Republicans.
Although he didn’t voice support for any particular candidate, Scott expressed exasperation with a process that has seen numerous Republicans oppose a succession of candidates.
“We need to make sure every single Republican in the house gets behind a closed door to figure out who they want to be the speaker, and then come out and vote,” Scott said. “(Republican representatives) need to remember that every single bad thing that’s happened in the past two years is because the road to socialism runs right through a divided Republican party.”
Several candidates have announced bids to replace the ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmert currently considered a frontrunner. Scott declined to comment on Emmert but called on Republicans to “work in lockstep” to fill the speakership and resume legislating.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Tim Scott in Iowa defends Israel, criticizes GOP over speaker fight