The fighting in Israel has become another flashpoint in the Republican presidential primary, further revealing the foreign policy divide among candidates scrambling to distinguish themselves in a race dominated by former President Donald J. Trump.
“I will always condemn antisemitism, appeasement and weakness on the radical left, but I will also call out weakness or confusion among conservatives as well,” Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said during a speech about Israel on Tuesday at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
In a departure from his usually noncombative campaign style, Mr. Scott criticized both Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who along with Mr. Trump have outlined anti-interventionist foreign policy positions. Mr. Scott highlighted Mr. Ramaswamy’s comments on Israel earlier this year (he has shifted his stance on cutting U.S. military aid to Israel), and Mr. DeSantis’s characterization of the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute,” which Mr. DeSantis later walked back.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also attacked several candidates in remarks on Saturday in which he criticized Republicans who “embraced the language of isolationism and appeasement.” He named Mr. Trump, Mr. Ramaswamy and Mr. DeSantis as voices that have “run contrary to the tradition in our party that America is the leader of the free world.”
Those three men, who have espoused anti-interventionist stances on issues like Ukraine, strongly condemned the attack on Israel. Mr. Trump has said he would “stand strongly” with Israel, claiming that the attacks “would never have happened” if he were president. Mr. DeSantis called on Israel to respond with “overwhelming force” and said the United States would stand fully behind Israel. Mr. Ramaswamy said that the U.S. should “stand ready to provide additional military supplies.”
Mr. Ramaswamy hit back at Mr. Pence in a social media post Tuesday night and again criticized Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, who said over the weekend that the attacks in Israel amounted to “an attack on America because they hate us just as much.”
Mr. Ramaswamy called comments from both of them “histrionics” that “are unhelpful and unserious.”
Anti-interventionist positions got some support this week from the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who mocked Ms. Haley for suggesting that the attack on Israel was also an attack on America and said: “Wars beget more war. The bigger the conflict, the uglier and longer-lasting the consequences. These are not complex observations but seem lost on our leadership class.”
While the Republican Party has shifted away from hawkish foreign policies over the past decade, a move that accelerated with Mr. Trump’s rise, Mr. Pence and Ms. Haley have outlined more traditional stances.
But aside from Ms. Haley, who has risen in the polls and attracted increased donor attention, the other candidates expressing more hawkish views are polling in the low single digits.
Maggie Astor contributed reporting.