Debate Offers Opening to Romney With Jews

Republican May Frame Obama as Weak on Israel

getty images

By Reuters

Published October 22, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the Monday foreign policy debate, should play to the Jewish TV audience like he was the star of a Borscht Belt revue.

Romney has a tempting assortment of issues he can tap to frame President Barack Obama as a leader whose policies are perilous for Israel. He can use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, Egypt and even Syria to make a case that Obama’s policies are wrong for the Jewish state.

Given the tenuous state of relations between Israel and the United States, it’s surprising that, according to a recent American Jewish Committee survey of Jewish opinion, 61 percent approve of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations, while 39 percent disapprove. Those are numbers Romney needs to change Monday night.

He is not going to win the Jewish vote. Obama overpowered Senator John McCain in 2008 by 78 percent to 22 percent among Jews, and the most recent Gallup poll puts Obama ahead this year by 70 percent to 25 percent. But if Romney can narrow that 45 percent margin between him and Obama, he will increase his chance of becoming president.

While Jews are a small minority in the United States, they generally get to the polls in big numbers. Several swing states are home to relatively large populations of Jews, particularly Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania, but also Virginia, Ohio and Colorado.

Florida tops the list - 3.4 percent of registered voters are Jewish. Yet, because of strong turnout, Jews comprise as many as 8 percent of those who actually cast ballots.

With the margins in some of these states expected to be razor thin, a small shift in any segment of the voting population could make the difference between victory and defeat.

While it’s true that Jewish voters say they put other issues ahead of Israel, it’s hard to overestimate the tug of the Holy Land on Jewish heartstrings.

According to the American Jewish Committee poll, 71 percent of American Jews agree “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement, “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.” Support for Israel among Jews extends equally across the political spectrum.

What’s more, playing the Israel card in Monday night’s debate will further energize Christian conservatives, many of whom are passionately pro-Israel.

Romney can dramatize his difference with Obama by suggesting that with Iran’s nuclear program moving forward, no less than the existence of Israel may be at stake in this election.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.