House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's recent suggestion that Jewish voters are “being exploited” by Republican leaders for political gain drew a sharp response Sunday from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the country's highest-ranking Jewish Republican, who said the remarks were “patronizing” and “insulting.”
The California Democrat suggested that Jewish voters were “being exploited” by Republican leaders trying to portray President Obama as un-supportive of Israel’s national security efforts.
Pelosi made the comment when asked during a weekend interview with Bloomberg TV whether she thought Obama would win the Jewish vote, which historically goes to Democrat candidates.
Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, first said the election would answer the question, then said yes.
"I think that he will, because the fact is when the facts get out," she said. "You know, as many of the Republicans are using Israel as an excuse.”
She suggested Republican leaders were using the Israel issue to divert attention from what they really want -- tax cuts for the wealthy.
“So Israel, that can be one reason they put forth," she said.
Canton, R-Va., said in a statement: “It is both patronizing and deeply insulting for Nancy Pelosi to suggest any Jew is 'exploited' for their political beliefs or that support for Israel is somehow an 'excuse' for anything."
During the TV interview, Pelosi agreed with the interviewer that Republican Jewish supporters are very active this political season and that Jewish voters are intelligent enough to realize the situation.
"Well, that’s how they’re being exploited,” she said. “And they’re smart people. They follow these issues. But they have to know the facts. And the fact is that President Obama has been the strongest person in terms of sanctions on Iran, which is important to Israel. He’s been the strongest person on whether it’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling, any of these weapons systems and initiatives that relate to Israel. He has been there over and over again."
Pelosi also is facing criticism that she implied Obama as president has been to Israel "over and over again."
He has never been as president, went once during his 2008 presidential campaign and reportedly went twice as a senator.