WASHINGTON -- In unusually sharp words, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Sunday fired back at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for suggesting that Republicans exploit Jewish people for political gain.
Pelosi told Bloomberg's Al Hunt in a Friday interview that Republicans have been talking up issues about Israel as "an excuse" to distract from their push for tax cuts for the wealthy.
"That's how they're being exploited," Pelosi 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."
Cantor, the lone Jewish Republican in Congress, slammed Pelosi for her remarks in a Sunday 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," Cantor said. "Such thinking diminishes the importance of issues affecting Jews everywhere."
The reality is that the Jewish vote won't make much of a difference in the 2012 presidential election. Exit polls show Jewish voters generally make up between 2 percent to 4 percent of the electorate. They were 2 percent of voters in the 2008 election, with Republican nominee John McCain winning just 21 percent of them.