Party for Palin in D.C.

By Brett Lieberman

Published October 08, 2008, issue of October 17, 2008.
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A joint party for watchers of the October 2 vice presidential debate, held at a downtown Washington law firm, brought together a couple hundred Republican Jews to cheer Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and jeer Delaware Senator Joseph Biden.

The event, hosted by the Republican Jewish Committee’s National Women’s Committee and by two Republican women’s groups, attracted a crowd of mostly young women, but also a large number of men. Not surprisingly, the group gave Palin stellar reviews for her debate performance.

“Sarah Palin is going to kick some tuchis,” predicted Shelley Hymes, a member of all three organizations, during a reception prior to the debate.

Hymes was not disappointed in the Republican vice presidential nominee’s performance.

“I thought she was amazing,” she said immediately after the 90-minute debate ended. “She surpassed expectations.”

The October 2 party was one of a number of events planned by the RJC’s women’s committee since GOP nominee John McCain selected Palin as his running mate.

Though analysts say that Palin’s selection may scare off some Jews concerned about that candidate’s lack of foreign policy experience, her selection has been a boon to the women’s group.

“For groups like mine, this is an unprecedented time,” said Lisa Spies, the RJC’s executive director. Spies said she’s receiving 20 to 30 e-mails a day, compared with three to four a week pre-Palin.

Like many Republicans, both Jewish and not, in the audience, Michael Berenhaus, an optometrist in nearby Bethesda, Md., worried before the debate about how Palin would perform, as prior to it she had given some shaky interviews. So, he was relieved when she took strong and unwavering positions, and he cited her staunch support for Israel during the debate.

“I was nervous, but deep down I knew she could do it,” said Berenhaus, who added, “The difference between her and Democrats is, she’s not going to change how she feels about Israel the next day, when the Arabs protest.”

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