POLITICS

Jewish Democrats on the defensive

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

“It’s the message every one of you have heard,” said Ira Foreman, the man in charge of Jewish affairs for the Democratic National Committee. “that the president is awful on Israel.” After which he quickly added that the message was totally untrue. The Democrats have prepared one- and six-page versions of talking points, the latter of which is actually seven pages and provides “facts” in response to no less than 10 “myths.” The approximately 120 mostly Jewish Democrats didn’t quite fill the room and the crowd was much smaller than that at the Republican Jewish Coalition last week in Tampa (but that was on an official convention day and this wasn’t).

Delaware Governor Jack Markell spoke briefly, citing just “public schools” and Israel as reasons to support Barack Obama. Evidence: Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres have said relations between the U.S. and Israel have never been stronger. A word I believe I did not hear during the time I was in the meeting: Netanyahu.

National Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke ans was warmly received as she extolled Obamacare (Democrats are using the term) and said she has heard Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren say, in her words, “what the Republicans is dangerous for Israel.”

The Obama campaign opinion research director spoke and presented a (by partisan standards) reasonably fair PowerPoint on the polls. He got vigorous applause when he praised Obama for bringing the troops home from Iraq and for having “restored science to its rightful place.” Which auggests to me that there’s still strong opposition to George W. Bush who launched the war in Iraq and blocked government funding of embryonic stem cell research (not all health research). In contrast, he has to milk applause from the audience on gay rights issues.

I don’t remember a similar meeting at a Democratic National Convention before; perhaps I missed one or more. Either way, this struck me as a very defensive exercise. Audience members were asked to talk to their friends, but skip the “10 to 12%” who are strong Republicans and are “intelligent, accomplished, smart, very practiced debaters.” Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition is sending members from safe states to Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama got 78% of the Jewish vote last time and has been getting about 64% in polls of Jewish voters this year. I’m betting that he ends up closer to that number than to his 2008 number. That would reduce the Democratic margin (or increase the Republican margin), according to Foreman, by 83,500 in Pennsylvania, 41,500 in Pennsylvania, 19,000 in Ohio, 12,500 in Virginia, 11,500 in Colorado, 11,000 in Michigan and 9,500 in Nevada.

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