(Bloomberg) -- Michael Bloomberg said Sunday that despite his opposition to the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, he also opposed the way President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018, saying it was “tantamount to giving Iran permission to re-launch its nuclear program.”
In a speech in Miami to launch his outreach to Jewish voters, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said he spoke out against the 2015 deal at the time because it should have done more to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and other concerns. But Trump shouldn’t have left the deal made with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany because Iran is once again moving toward the development of a nuclear weapon after years of compliance, he said.
“As president, I will work to make the strongest deal possible to constrain the Iranian regime’s aggression and territorial ambitions, and put an end to their nuclear program, because the world must never allow Iran to threaten Israel and the whole region with a nuclear attack,” Bloomberg said in his prepared remarks.
Bloomberg also addressed the rise in anti-Semitic violence in America. He said that while one person can’t be blamed for it, Trump’s rhetoric, support of conspiracy theories and silence about racist groups means “there is just no escaping the direct line between his conduct in office and the rise of violent attacks targeted at minority groups.” He vowed to launch a national effort to crack down on violent extremists.
The former New York mayor also said Trump was harming the U.S. relationship with Israel because the president is “trying to use Israel as a wedge issue for his own electoral purposes."
“We must never let Israel be a football that American politicians kick around in an effort to score points,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg also vowed never to impose conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel, including missile defense, and said he wouldn’t wait three years to release an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. His remarks came just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main election challenger, former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz accepted invitations to the White House this week ahead of Trump’s planned release of his long-awaited plan.
It was a public embrace of his Judaism by Bloomberg, who launched a “United for Mike” national coalition Sunday with a council of Jewish community leaders to rally support from Jewish voters in his bid for the Democratic nomination. In his speech Bloomberg discussed the connection between his faith and American values and the 2020 race against Trump.
“Sometimes democracy is a birthright,” Bloomberg said. “Sometimes it is a gift. And sometimes it is a fight. Today, it’s a fight -- and I’m asking you to stand and fight with me as proud Americans, and as proud Jews.”
Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg.
(Updates with additional comments from fifth paragraph.)
This post is part of Campaign Update, our live coverage from the 2020 campaign trail.
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