Sanders Will Be Only Presidential Hopeful to Skip AIPAC Meeting

WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) -
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders takes the stage at a campaign rally in Boise, Idaho, on Monday. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders takes the stage at a campaign rally in Boise, Idaho, on Monday. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be the only presidential hopeful from either party to be a no-show at the policy conference of the prominent American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In a letter sent Friday to Roger Cohen, president of AIPAC, Sanders said that he would be campaigning in the western half of the country, and that “the campaign schedule that we have prevents me from attending.”

His Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, addressed AIPAC on Monday. The three remaining Republican candidates — businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — are slated to speak on Monday evening.

Sanders expressed regret, saying he would have enjoyed the chance to speak at AIPAC.

“Obviously, issues impacting Israel and the Middle East are of the utmost importance to me, to our country and to the world,” he wrote to Cohen.

Sanders offered to send a copy of the speech he would have made had he attended, citing AIPAC’s decision not to allow candidates to address the conference remotely, and ended on a breezy note: “Thanks very much. Hope the conference goes well.”

AIPAC’s annual convention attracts an A-list array of politicians. Vice President Biden spoke at the opening of the multi-day conference, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), was to appear alongside the GOP candidates on Monday evening.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also canceled an appearance before AIPAC and a meeting with President Barack Obama, is expected to appear live via satellite.