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Leading Republican Nominee Supports Israel?

Rand Paul ekes out win over Paul Ryan in party presidential nomination poll, has history of questionable stance regarding Israel.
By Tova Dvorin, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/16/2014, 4:00 PM

Senator Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul
Reuters

The front-runner in the close race for Republican presidential nominee leaves some questions for Israel, CNN reports Sunday.

In a new poll, 16% of Republican Party members and independents who lean toward the GOP answered they would "be likely to support" Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for the 2016 presidential race, narrowly edging out Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who received 15%.

Last January, Rand Paul called for Washington to cut aid to Israel after visiting Jerusalem for the first time, noting that "you destroy your currency by spending money you don’t have." He later clarified his support, noting "an attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States." 

Ryan, who ran as vice-president alongside Mitt Romney in 2012, has been seen as a strong supporter of Israel. He currently serves as the House Budget Committee Chairman. Trailing Paul and Ryan is Texas Governor Rick Perry at 11%.

Leading the poll, Paul has some question marks to clarify in terms of his support -- financial support at least -- for Israel. He is one of only two GOP senators who withheld their signatures from a 2011 letter by 11 GOP senators vowing continued financial support for Israel.

Additionally, Paul has some inherited baggage from his father Ron Paul, who was widely seen as unfriendly to Israel. For instance, the elder Paul once went on Iranian state-sponsored television and likened Gaza to a concentration camp.

The elder Paul also claimed that escalating violence between Hamas and Israel was to be blamed on US foreign policy, which, he maintained, favors Israel.

The Democratic race is a much less competitive one, with Hillary Clinton garnering 63% support from party members and independents voting democratic. Vice President Joe Biden received a mere 13%, coming in a distant second.