By Adam Edelman, Ludwig Hurtado and Melissa Holzberg
Several Democratic presidential candidates will skip the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference this year after a prominent progressive group called on them to boycott the event.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will all ditch the conference, the Associated Press reported, and a spokesman for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, told NBC News that he also will not attend.
The candidates' decisions to skip the prominent pro-Israel lobbying group’s conference come one day after liberal group MoveOn.org called on all 2020 presidential candidates to steer clear of the event.
“It’s no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, campaign director for MoveOn's political action committee, said in a post on the group's website. “We asked our members what they think so that we can make more informed decisions — and over 74% agreed that progressive presidential candidates should skip the AIPAC conference. This should also give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.”
AIPAC spokesman Marshall Whittmann said the "focus for the conference has always been Congress."
"We are proud that the bipartisan leadership of the House and the Senate will be speaking," Whittmann told NBC News.
Headliners at this year’s conference, which will kick off Sunday, include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a number of prominent Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
AIPAC, a nonprofit that does not donate directly to candidates but works to promote a staunchly pro-Israel message in Washington, responded to Omar, tweeting that it is "proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the US-Israel relationship."
Omar later apologized after her comments were denounced by House Democratic leaders as "anti-Semitic tropes."
Adam Edelman is a political reporter for NBC News.
Ludwig Hurtado reports and produces for NBC News.
Melissa Holzberg is a researcher for the NBC News political unit.