Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's old city, Israel.… (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images )
JERUSALEM – Mitt Romney and his wife made a solemn visit Sunday to the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av, a Jewish holiday of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples of Jerusalem.
Romney was enveloped by an enormous crowd of fans and onlookers when he visited the historic holy site in the old city. After Romney’s motorcade pulled into the plaza before the wall with flashing lights, the former Massachusetts governor and his wife parted ways — walking separately across the plaza to the wall, which is separated by a screen partition with men on one side and women on the other for religious reasons.
“Here comes the next president!” one man shouted. “He is for Israel!” another man said.
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Romney walked to the wall with the Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitz. After consulting with a man who showed him diagrams, the candidate stood before the wall while some men in the crowd shouted advice about where he should place his note.
Romney, wearing a black yarmulke, placed his hand against the wall and bowed his head for 20 seconds before slipping the note into a crevice between two stones. “A real honor to be here,” he said as he left. He did not answer questions about what he had written on his note, but later told ABC’s David Muir in an interview that he and Ann had written their prayers together ahead of time.
Romney’s rival, Barack Obama, visited the Western Wall during his 2008 campaign. A student from an Orthodox Jewish seminary pulled the note out of the wall and it was published by Maariv, a Hebrew-language newspaper.
“Lord – Protect my family and me," the unsigned note said. "Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.” Though the campaign did not confirm the authenticity of the note, it was written on the stationary of the King David Hotel where Obama was staying, and the Associated Press reported that the handwriting matched Obama’s inscription in a guest book at Israel’s Holocaust Memorial.
Romney was accompanied to the wall Sunday by his son Josh Romney, his foreign policy advisor Dan Senor, his policy director Lanhee Chen and his national finance chairman Spencer Zwick. Several of Romney’s top finance chairmen, some of whom were in town for his fundraiser Monday, were spotted watching the scene from across the plaza. Among them: his brother Scott Romney, New York Lawyer Phil Rosen and L.E. Simmons, president of a Texas-based private equity firm.
Romney’s aides said Saturday that they would not be allowing reporters into the candidate’s fundraising event at the King David Hotel on Monday morning, where casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is expected to be among the guests. But in a move toward transparency, the campaign announced Sunday afternoon that it would open Romney’s remarks to a small pool of reporters. The reversal by the campaign was a nod to the agreement they have struck with reporters that they will allow a small pool of reporters to hear Romney’s remarks at his fundraisers, as long as they are not at a private home.
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