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


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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)

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“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.

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.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

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Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

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