U.S. Senate Candidates Discuss Middle East Policy


The Republican candidates for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat all say they support Israel, but they’ve offered varying levels of specifics about how to handle security threats from Iran and Syria.

Among the Republicans running for Senate, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald leaves perhaps the most room for interpretation when it comes to how he would handle tensions in the Middle East, “I would stand behind the Israeli, they have been our allies for a long time. And I think it’s a very dangerous part that we should do whatever we can to maintain that safety in the Middle East.”

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson says the U.S. has to stand by Israel and says Iran is dangerous, “If they get a nuclear bomb, they will close down the Gulf of Hormuz. Gulf of Hormuz is where all the oil comes from. It will strangle the world.”

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Thompson says sanctions should have been placed on Iran much earlier but he won’t say much about what the U.S. should do next.

Former Congressman Mark Neumann also looks at Iran from an economic perspective, “If Iran upsets the apple cart over there in the near term, we could see $7 gasoline there in the near term. And I think that’s a very important determination. It could disrupt our economy here.”

As to how the U.S. should intervene, Neumann says he would want to see a plan that lays out the cost in dollars and human lives and a clear goal. He says the U.S. needs to know when it can bring troops home.

Hedge fund manager Eric Hovde is the most specific, saying that the situation in Iran and Syria is closely linked. He describes Middle East tensions as a religious civil war, “That’s why I’m not in favor of putting ground troops on the ground but using intelligence and armaments to help the rebels.”

All four candidates expressed support for Republican Mitt Romney’s position on Israel, though Romney has also come under fire for offering few specifics when it comes to Iran and Syria.