Latest update: July 29th, 2012
The election season is heating up early, and the video warfare is already sizzling. The Republican Jewish Coalition has initiated a new campaign in ‘battleground states’ aimed at persuading lifelong Jewish Democrats dissatisfied with President Barack Obama to vote instead for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, titled “My Buyer’s Remorse,” will be aired in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and is slated to begin in the coming weeks.
“For the past three years we’ve been hearing from people who were deeply disappointed and who wish they could have their vote back,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks told The Jewish Press. “It became self-evident to us that we should take those testimonials and share them with everyone.”
Brooks said the people featured in what he said will be a “significant number” of ads were found through the RJC local offices. The ad campaign uses testimonials from Jews who voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign and now express regret over that decision, citing what they see as his poor treatment of Israel, and his ineffective economic policies.
The first ad can be previewed on the RJC website. It features Michael Goldstein, a 40-something community college administrator and lifelong democrat from New Jersey who voted for Obama in 2008 because he “believed in what Obama stood for.” Goldstein became disillusioned when he started hearing and seeing things he did not like from Obama once the election was over. What kind of things?
“That speech about the ’67 borders,” Goldstein explained, “that really changed my mind.” Also very troublesome for Goldstein was the way the president treated the Israeli Prime Minister when Netanyahu visited the White House. “He’s not just the Prime Minister of Israel, he represents all of us, Jews, Israelis, people throughout the world who believe in the State of Israel.” Goldstein was turned off by what he says was Obama’s incredible disrespect towards Netanyahu.
In a motif the RJC clearly wants to emphasize throughout the remainder of the campaign, the ad hones in on the concern that Jewish American voter has about what will be different if President Obama is elected for a second term.
“I think in the second term we’ll see the real Barack Obama,” Goldstein says, as the video pans over Jerusalem, “when he has no voters to deal with, I think he will change the game when it comes to Israel. He’s going to put Israel in a position where they’re in danger.”
The RJC appears convinced that, despite the long and largely monogamous relationship between Jews and the Democratic party, there are certain strategic moves it can make that will be sufficient to have Jewish voters be the decisive factor in electing Mitt Romney.
Recent polls suggest that Jewish support for Obama has diminished, with him receiving 67 percent to Romney’s 25 percent – which would be the highest level of support for a republican candidate since George Bush received 35 percent of the vote in the 1988 contest against Democrat Michael Dukakis.
By following RJC polling calculations and concentrating on Jews in certain areas of three key states – Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, the RJC is banking on Jewish votes determining the outcome in those swing states.
Featured prominently in a New York Times story about the “My Buyer’s Remorse” campaign was the role allegedly played by casino magnate and staunchly pro-Israel Sheldon Adelson’s involvement. When asked about Adelson’s role in this effort, Brooks told The Jewish Press that while Adelson has been an active supporter and member of the RJC board for a number of years, the organization is the form of non-profit that does not have to – and does not – disclose confidential information about donors, so “any stories about Mr. Adelson’s involvement is purely conjecture.” What Brooks was willing to say is that “there is a large number of people involved in this effort.”
Whether or not Adelson was directly involved in this RJC campaign effort, he has been a strong presence in this year’s presidential campaign on behalf of the Republican party. In the Republican primaries earlier this year, he and his family donated $16.5 million to Newt Gingrich’s campaign, and when Romney came out the victor in the primaries, Adelson gave a $10 million donation to a Super PAC that supports Romney.
That fiscal heft, although not approaching the hundreds of millions of dollars billionaire George Soros has given to various anti-Israel campaigns, is not only firing up Jewish American potential Romney voters, it has incensed many in the Obama camp. The National Jewish Democratic Coalition recently took down a petition it had posted, calling on candidates to return any donations from what they suggested were “dirty money” donations from Adelson. Although NJDC chair David Harris said he stood by the facts in the petition, for purposes of “shalom bayit” he said they decided to take it down.
This May the left-wing organization J Street kicked off their election effort with an email attack on the campaign contributions of Adelson. Ironically, J Street originally claimed not to have received any funding from Soros, but it was later disclosed that a significant portion of the budgets for their first few years was covered by Soros and his family members.
There will be a “significant number” of ads that will be aired, leading up to the November elections. A second stage in the campaign will be the opportunity for ad viewers to visit a website called mybuyersremorse.com and upload their own stories about why they, as voters who had supported Barack Obama in 2008, will now be supporting the Republican candidate. Like Michael Goldstein in the first ad, the RJC anticipates there may be many Jewish voters who have never before voted for a Republican for US president.
Romney is scheduled to arrive in Israel on July 28 as part of a trip that will also take him to England and Poland. He is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while in Israel for what his aides say will be a “learn and listen” session.
Rafi Harkham contributed to this article.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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