Questioning University Presidents on Antisemitism, Stefanik Goes Viral

Ms. Stefanik at the time called her removal “a rite of passage and badge of honor.”

Bill Kristol, the prominent anti-Trump Republican whom Ms. Stefanik once worked with, said he was on multiple text chains with fellow Harvard alumni who shared a similar reaction watching clips from the hearing. The overall sentiment, he said, was, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Elise Stefanik is doing a very good job of putting Claudine Gay on the spot.”

The bigger political issue at stake, Mr. Kristol said, was whether the response of university administrators to the antisemitism rearing its head on campuses would alienate centrist Republicans who voted for President Biden in 2020.

“They see this and they think, ‘All my suspicions were confirmed,’” Mr. Kristol said. He said that for Americans concerned about the potential re-election of Mr. Trump, a moment in which Ms. Stefanik sounded reasonable was a cause for concern.

On Thursday, Ms. Stefanik said she was proud to have struck a chord.

“I’m holding my head high,” she said. “On the most moral issue of humanity, the genocide of humanity, there should be no moral equivocation.”

Representative Ritchie Torres, Democrat of New York, was among the Democrats conceding that Ms. Stefanik was right, but he said it did not change his view of her.

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” he said. “She continues to be an odious demagogue.”

He said her viral moment was “less about Stefanik and more about the glaring indifference to antisemitism among college university presidents. The cross-examination confirmed what we all know — that our college campuses are lacking in moral common sense. If I were them, I would resign in disgrace.”

Stephanie Saul contributed reporting.

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