Andrea Mitchell, John Heilemann Scold GOP 2012 Hopefuls for Disagreeing with Obama's Israel Policy

In lockstep with Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "please don't speak to my president that way," MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell cautioned of the "political pitfalls" for Republican presidential candidates who dared to challenge Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East.

On the May 20 edition of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent warned against criticizing the Democratic commander-in-chief and bewailed the "angry reception" he's received over his desire to see Israel surrender territory it acquired in the six-day Middle East war of 1967.

"The political pitfalls of wading into the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate was on display today, with Republican presidential contenders piling on the president," chided Mitchell, who went on to ask New York magazine's John Heilemann, "Whatever happened to politics ending at the water's edge?"

For his part, Heilemann appeared equally despondent that Republican presidential hopefuls would criticize Obama for taking a position that Netanyahu called "indefensible."

"Well I think we left that age a long time ago, Andrea, unfortunately," lamented the magazine's national affairs editor.

After reading critical press statements from the Romney, Pawlenty, and Bachmann camps, Mitchell fretted, "That's pretty categorical," before moving on to another subject.

A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:

MSNBC
Andrea Mitchell Reports
May 20, 2011

1:08 p.m. EDT

ANDREA MITCHELL: The political pitfalls of wading into the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate was on display today, with Republican presidential contenders piling on the president. 2012 hopefuls slamming Mr. Obama for saying that Israel should give up lands occupied since 1967, even as some Senate Republicans offer a more measured reception – those not running for office, not running for president.

John Heilemann is National Affairs editor for New York Magazine and joins us from New York. So first of all, the angry reception that the president got, was that predictable? Whatever happened to politics ending at the water's edge?

JOHN HEILEMANN: Well I think we left that age a long time ago, Andrea, unfortunately. Predictable? I think utterly predictable. I think most Republicans who are running for president believe that it's going to be a very close election in 2012 if they get the nomination and they're looking at states particularly like Florida. And they're looking at what they see as the president's political weakness with Jewish-American community and they're trying to get themselves in a good position to capitalize on that if they happen to be the nominee.

MITCHELL: We had a strong statement from Mitt Romney saying that "President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus. He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace." Pawlenty saying "President Obama's insistence on a return to the '67 borders is a mistaken and dangerous demand." The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. Michele Bachmann, who could be entertaining a run, "President Obama has again indicated his policy toward Israel is to blame Israel first." That's pretty categorical. Newt Gingrich was also on the bandwagon here.

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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