Even before President Obama declared this month that “I have Israel’s back” in its escalating confrontation with Iran, pro-Israel figures like the evangelical Christian leader Gary L. Bauer and the conservative commentator William Kristol were pushing for more.
Is this sentence, in particular the part in bold, grammatical? I imagine that it would be impossible for such constructs not to occasionally slip in spoken conversations, but are they formal/suitable for papers?
To be redundantly specific, I'm asking whether or not the following would be more natural:
... President Obama declared this month that “He had Israel’s back”...
Or is the original sentence perfectly normal and formal?