The numbers don’t provide much hope for Republicans: Only about 6 percent of American Jews vote solely based on Israel-centric issues and most of them are already reliably Republican.
“This is a four-year ritual that the Republicans go through,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the first Jewish congresswoman from Florida and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. “Jews categorically disagree with everything in the Republican Party’s agenda domestically,” she said, and Romney has sought to peel off some support in battleground states like Florida by sowing doubt about Obama’s commitment to Israel.
Still, she finds herself trying to gloss over some of president’s earlier actions. “I wouldn’t focus so much on one particular comment here or there throughout what is such a close relationship,” Schultz said during a pause from a seniors’ event in an Aventura condominium. She pointed to U.S. military aid to Israel and argued that the president’s record was identical to Romney’s bluster. “You can’t put a magnifying glass up close on every single utterance of the president of the United States and dissect it for meaning that isn’t there,” she said.
That, of course, is exactly what Romney hopes to do.
“Standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone,” Romney said in Israel. “We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.”
Playing to the audience
Romney’s chiding of the president went over big among his donors in Jerusalem. On Monday morning, he raised about $1 million at the King David Hotel with Adelson seated to his left. Across the seas in Miami, the Republican Jewish Coalition, a $6.5 million anti-Obama campaign funded in part by Adelson, met Monday evening.
During their gathering at Too Jay’s deli in Plantation, members of the group discussed how to nab the Jewish vote and beat Obama. Three men in sports blazers lectured about a dozen people that their polling was so good that they “could tell you whether you preferred tennis or golf.” Even so, one woman expressed some skepticism that the group could dent the Democratic block. “They are strictly Democrats and they are not changing!” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “How are you going to change their minds? They just say, ‘oy vey.’ ”
But even the most motivated of Jewish voters against Obama are less concerned with the state of Israel than the state of America. Nat Trayger, 60, a medical salesman from Broward County who attended the meeting at Too Jay’s, was optimistic about Romney winning Florida’s Jewish vote. “Because Jews, as Americans, are unhappy with the way things are going,” he said.