WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump can’t get enough of Rep. Ilhan Omar.

As Democrats try to turn the page after the freshman lawmaker’s remarks, criticized by some as anti-Semitic, ignited an embarrassing intra-party fight, the Republican president is trying to prolong and weaponize the issue for his 2020 campaign, asserting during a private weekend fundraiser that Democrats “hate” Jews.

While Trump publicly muses about winning over Jewish voters for his re-election, his motivations are more complicated and expansive. The president’s rhetorical escalation also is designed to unsettle the Democratic primary debate, exploit an issue that can energize his supporters and move past his own history of toying in anti-Semitic motifs.

Trump was slow to condemn white supremacists who marched violently in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. In 2016, he circulated an image of a six-pointed star alongside a photo of Hillary Clinton, a pile of money and the words “most corrupt candidate ever.” And he told a group of Republican Jewish donors he didn’t expect to earn their support because he wouldn’t take their money.

“You want to control your politicians, that’s fine,” he told the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015.

Ultimately, the group and many of its donors backed Trump.

Trump on Tuesday promoted comments by former model and 2016 campaign staffer Elizabeth Pipko, who said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that “Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party.”

Pipko, who serves as spokeswoman for the group Jexodus, which bills itself as speaking for “Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics,” saw her comments amplified by Trump on Twitter. “There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party,” she continued. “They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.”

Her comments mirrored Trump’s charge on Friday that Democrats had become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party, responding to the House vote a day before to disapprove of all prejudice in response to Omar’s invocation of “dual-loyalty” charges against American supporters of Israel earlier this month.

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