web analytics
July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Focus On Florida’s Jewish Community As GOP Presidential Primary Approaches


Republican-Race-012712

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama won’t show up on the vote tallies after polls close in Florida’s Republican primary on Jan. 31, but the president’s supporters already are waging a fight for the Sunshine State.

Democrats are rolling out a campaign to rival any of the GOP candidates, with a particular focus on the state’s substantial Jewish community.

Democratic officials said that volunteers in Florida already had made nearly 600,000 calls to supporters and conducted thousands of training sessions, many of them focusing on the Jewish community, 10 months before the general election. The Obama campaign has opened nine offices in the state.

“Florida is the most significant battleground state, and will be in 2012,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, in a conference call Monday with the Jewish media.

Wasserman Schultz said Jewish surrogates were targeting communities across the state, defending Obama’s Israel record as well as emphasizing differences on health care and social issues, like abortion.

The rollout was planned months ago, well before Newt Gingrich’s stunning upset win Saturday in the South Carolina GOP primary buried the notion of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, as the party’s front-runner. The latest polls from Florida show Gingrich pulling ahead of Romney by 7 to 9 percentage points; just a week earlier Romney had enjoyed double-digit leads in the state’s polls.

Florida is a testing ground because it is the first large and diverse primary state, said Nancy Ratzan, a former president of the National Council of Jewish Women who is now active in the Democratic Party.

“Florida is more reflective of what they’re going to find in other parts of the country,” she said.

Romney and Gingrich head into Florida with few holds barred, each striving to identify the other as a member of the “elites” reviled by the Republican base.

A Romney ad released Monday accused Gingrich of making money off the financial crisis by taking money from a government-backed mortgage company. It said that the former speaker of the House of Representatives and Georgia congressman was a Washington “insider.”

Gingrich has depicted Romney as uncaring, drawing on his career as a venture capitalist. He also has seized on Romney’s tax returns, which show investments in the same government-backed mortgage company that paid Gingrich for consulting fees. Noam Neusner, a former domestic policy adviser to President George W. Bush, said Gingrich had upended the race with his South Carolina victory and the battle for the nomination was now wide open.

Neusner, who has not endorsed a candidate, noted that Romney had won the “Jewish donors” primary, drawing the largest assemblage of Jewish supporters. But he noted that Gingrich was a known quantity among Jewish conservatives going back to his days as House speaker from 1995 to 1998.

Gingrich’s positions are “very similar to Romney’s and certainly very acceptable to Republican voters,” he said.

Tevi Troy, a deputy health secretary under President George W. Bush who now advises the Romney campaign, suggested – very delicately – that Gingrich’s mercurial personality would be an issue as the campaign rolls forward.

“You have to choose wisely about who the right candidate is,” Troy said. “Here you have a guy with strong leadership experience and in business, and has a good chance of beating President Obama and running a strong, competent foreign policy.”

Neusner acknowledged that “there’s a greater comfort level with a certain constancy of personality in Romney.”

“Gingrich is admired” for his intellect, Neusner said, “but there’s greater enthusiasm that Romney could do better in the general” election.

Both presidential hopefuls, as well as fellow candidate Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, have made Obama’s relationship with Israel a key target of their foreign policy campaigning.

“We’re very comfortable saying that so long as Barack Obama or Ron Paul are not the president, Israel will be a much safer place,” said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the West Palm Beach Republican Party who has not endorsed a candidate.

Dinerstein said that Republican Jews were too small a constituency to expect to be courted intensely in the primary, which is open only to registered Republicans. But that will change ahead of the general election, he said, when he expects the eventual Republican candidate to draw Jewish independents and centrist Democrats because of Obama’s Israel record.

The Republican National Committee has identified Florida as a swing state with a substantial Jewish population where Jewish votes could make the difference, according to an activist who saw an RNC memo late last year. The memo listed Jewish voters in the state as numbering 450,000, which seems to comport with figures from Jewish groups that estimate the state’s overall Jewish population at 640,000. Other such states listed in the memo were Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada, according to the activist.

The importance of Florida’s Jewish vote is one area where there is bipartisan agreement. Obama proxies in Florida include Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler, a former Florida congressman who now heads the Center for Middle East Peace in Washington.

Democrats are emphasizing domestic issues in their approach to Jewish voters, as well as Obama’s Israel record. Wasserman Schultz said during the conference call that Republican plans to privatize parts of Medicare threatened a key safety net for the elderly.

Romney is planning Jewish events, a campaign official said. The campaign official also said that John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations who is a favorite of many hawkish Jewish conservatives, will campaign in the state for Romney ahead of the primary.

Queries to Gingrich’s campaign went unanswered. Reports say he is going into Florida without funds or organization comparable to those at Romney’s disposal.

Sheldon Adelson, the pro-Israel casino magnate who has long been close to the former House speaker, helped boost his prospects in South Carolina with a $5 million infusion to an independent pro-Gingrich group, Winning America’s Future. And on Monday it was reported the billionaire’s wife, Miriam, was donating another $5 million to the group.

Republicans emphasize the diplomatic disagreements that Obama has had with Israel over its settlement policies, and say the president has not done enough to isolate Iran. Democrats stress the close security relationship with Israel cultivated by Obama and say Iran is more isolated than it’s ever been because of his policies.

Ratzan, who now speaks regularly to Jewish groups on behalf of Democrats, said she is encountering the effects of Republican attacks on Obama’s Israel record.

“I’m definitely getting questions,” she said, but the Obama campaign and the administration “are doing a good job of getting the message out.”

A case in point, she said, was the 7-minute video that the Obama campaign released last week that culled from news footage a slew of testimonials to the president’s commitment to Israel from a slate of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Alan Solow, a key Obama fundraiser and the immediate past president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said it is critical to get out what he describes as Obama’s pro-Israel message now.

“We think it’s important that we don’t allow the Republicans to establish the narrative regarding what the president has done for Israel,” he said, adding that the timing was fortuitous.

“We thought that this was a good time, generally, to do the video,” Solow said, noting that the election season had been launched in earnest. “It’s a happy coincidence for us that we’re doing it at a time when there was attention for Florida.”

(JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Focus On Florida’s Jewish Community As GOP Presidential Primary Approaches”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia Steps Up in U.S.-led Nuclear Talks with Iran
Latest News Stories
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian FM Lavrov met in Vienna with Iran’s Zarif in an unsuccessful bid to break a deadlock in nuclear talks.

Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel  takes in the annual cherry picking festival at kibbutz Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion.

When it comes down to it, it’s really about the milk. Minister Ariel just cut the price by nearly 5 percent.

Oketz is the IDF elite canine unit, trained to operate in every combat contingency.

The IDF plans to form a new elite commando unit.

Right to Left: Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon, Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, Israeli Minister Ofir Akunis and Chairman of the Zionist Camp Party, Isaac Hertzog attend a ceremony marking one year since Operation Protective Edge at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

Israeli leaders and families of fallen IDF soldiers gather to mark one year since Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

Tel Aviv has closed a deal to build its Light Rail with a Chinese firm that is doing business with Iran.

F.A.O. Schwarz is closing its iconic flagship store on NYC’s Fifth Avenue due to rising rent prices.

Some Chareidi Jews wore sackcloth (and probably ashes) yesterday, while praying at the Kotel on the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day.

The Shin Bet arrested six Negev Bedouin as budding members of a new ISIS terror cell.

The EU is warned that terrorists infiltrating among migrants via the Mediterranean Sea.

“Unfortunately, there are those who seek to exploit the sanctity of Ramadan, and distort its meaning in favor of … terrorism.”

In his first public comments following the tenure extension crisis, Rabbi Riskin delivered up some harsh criticism of the Chief Rabbinate.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

He wants to show everything is “business as usual,” which everyone knows is not.

The Palestinian Authority Jawwal mobile phone company is back in business in Gaza after Hamas allowed it to resume operations following last week’s forced shutdown. Hamas claimed that Jawwal, part of the Paltel conglomerate run b one of Mahmoud Abbas’ closest confidantes, owed taxes. The terrorist organization did not explain why it was allowing Jawaal […]

Jordanian authorities seized 100 pounds of explosives carried by a member of an Iranian-backed group.

Police closed in on a ring of Israeli and Palestinian Authority Arabs who smuggled eggs and sold to supermarkets in urban centers in Israel. The gang raked in more than $2.5 million a year in the operation that stamped the eggs with forged approval. Police investigator Shai Kovnator noted, “The phenomenon of smuggling eggs from […]

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. (archive)

Clinton derided perceptions that U.S.-Israel tensions had become tense under Obama.

“We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.”

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/focus-on-floridas-jewish-community-as-gop-presidential-primary-approaches/2012/01/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: