Republican leader on why Jews back Democrats

As Republican voters in Iowa take the first steps towards choosing the party's next presidential candidate, the only Jewish Republican in Congress has expressed dismay at the Jewish community's voting habits.

Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, the most senior Jewish politician in US history, told CBS that the Jewish tendency to support the Democratic Party was the bane of his existence.

"I've grown up a very active adherent to a faith and a community that is by and large Democratic," he said. "I think perhaps the Republican Party wasn't really good at welcoming immigrants and saying we want to give you a helping hand."

Mr Cantor, the House Majority leader, also suggested that the Jewish idea of tikkun olam was part of the reasons Jews tended to back Democrats.

"Clearly there is the ability to characterise all the social program me s that exist at the federal level as reflecting that need to repair the world," he said. But Mr Cantor said that Americans should perform tikkun olam through charity, rather than taxation.

Mitt Romney is expected to claim one of the top spots in today's Iowa caucus, the first stage in the Republican primaries process. However the Texan libertarian politician Ron Paul, who is considered a staunch critic of Israel, is also expected to finish with a large share of support.

Last updated: 5:20pm, January 3 2012