Robert De Niro made crystal clear which candidate he supports this presidential election at the VIP cocktail reception for the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Western Regional Gala held Thursday at the Beverly Hilton. The event was chaired by producing giant and FIDF national board member Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl.
“If you’re supporting Trump, I want nothing to do with you,” said De Niro, after refusing to pose for a photograph with Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Press did manage to snap a few shots before the kerfuffle.)
“Are you voting for Trump?” De Niro kept asking Schwarzenegger, channeling his inner Jake LaMotta as he rebuffed the former California governor’s efforts to explain before backing off toward the other side of the room.
While Schwarzenegger, a career Republican, publicly tweeted on Oct. 8 that he would NOT be voting for Trump, he still hasn’t made clear for whom he will be voting. In the tweet, the actor-turned-politician wrote: “For the first time since I became a citizen in 1983, I will not vote for the Republican candidate for President.”
“If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem,” said De Niro.
Larry King, one of the 1,200 guests who attended the sold-out, star-studded event, agreed.
“(Not voting) is a vote for Trump,” said King. “But if that’s the way they feel, I can’t tell them to vote. You don’t have to vote — but it’s a mistake. You should always pick one of the other.”
King, who said he cast his first presidential vote for Adlai Stevenson II in 1952, ranks this election cycle as the absolute worst he’s ever experienced in his nearly 83 years on the planet.
“This is the worst — and I’ve covered many of them,” said King. “I go back so far, I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt when her son was mayor of Miami Beach. I was 22. I remember when I told Hillary [Clinton] that I knew Eleanor Roosevelt; she fainted. This is the worst election I’ve ever seen. Donald [Trump] has run a terrible campaign. There’s a lot of racism and sexism. Hillary has been on the defensive back and forth. Neither one is well liked — I’ve never seen anything like this. People are voting against — not for. You know what I think? Joe Biden would have won this election with 70 percent of the electorate. But you never know how the public is going to vote. Until they go into the booth and pull the lever, you never know. I was a big supporter of Harry Truman. I was only 15. He was supposed to lose — and he won.”
The beautiful part of the evening was that people on both sides of the argument came together to support Israel with mutual love and admiration for FIDF, a non-political, non-military organization that proudly supports programs for the well being of soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, and wounded veterans. The gala raised a record-breaking $38 million dollars to help Israeli soldiers and their families in need.
“We are gratified to see that the FIDF’s important mission — to provide well-being and educational programs for the heroic men and women of the IDF — continues to resonate with the Los Angeles community,” said Saban, looking out at a ballroom filled with celebrities and high-profile luminaries, including Gerard Butler, Julie Bowen, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Guess? Inc. co-founders Maurice and Paul Marciano.
“When I was governor, Israel was the first country that I visited on a trade mission,” said Schwarzenegger. “Everybody was up in arms because I didn’t visit Mexico or Canada, the neighboring countries, first. Israel, to me, has always been a country I love. I enjoyed visiting it for the first time in 1978 and I’ve been there many times since. It’s just a great ally of America and I always try to be very supportive.”
King, who’s interviewed every Israeli prime minister with the exception of David Ben-Gurion, said, “Haim Saban is one of the best men I know, and this is a very worthy cause.” King continued, “I’ve always been a supporter of Israel. These people have their backs to the wall. I don’t always support everything Israel does, but I sure support their defense forces. Nothing is black and white. They’re living a defensive life.”
Like so many others, King is hopeful that one day there will be peace in Israel and the Middle East.
“Yitzhak Rabin was my favorite—there was no one like him,” said King, referring to the optimistic period of the Oslo Peace Accords. “Bill Clinton told me that he thought we had a deal. I hope eventually we have a two-party, two-state system. We can’t go on like this.”