A Jewish representative of Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona said the lawmaker “is a more observant Jew” than the audience members at a candidates’ forum in Scottsdale on Tuesday night. Apparently, roughly 70% of the attendees then walked out jeering.
According to Hannah Kaplan, the co-president of the National Council of Jewish Women, the group that sponsored the event, the remark was made by spokesperson Jonathan Tratt. He was responding to a question about the lawmaker’s views on reproductive freedom.
“He kind of pointed at the audience and said [it],” Kaplan told the Forward this afternoon. “It was definitely not a joke. I think he came expecting that everybody would be in his camp. Because he was the surrogate, he made it a point of advising us that he was Jewish and his wife was a sabra.”
According to a press release put out by Hayworth’s opponent, Democrat Harry Mitchell, Irit Tratt was then heard saying “No wonder there are anti-Semites,” as a group gathered on the bima to ask questions.
Kaplan said she did not hear that remark, and has not heard about it firsthand. She also said that the press release put out by the Mitchell campaign wrongly says that “Hayworth bailed” on the event. He had a conflict and was never confirmed to attend.
According to Kaplan, Jonathan Tratt made his remark at tail end of the Q&A session, in response to what was the last scheduled question for the event.
Tratt, Kaplan surmised, is not a professional employee of the campaign, but rather a Jewish supporter who volunteered to speak at the event.
As of Friday afternoon, Hayworth’s campaign had not sent out a press release, and a staffer who answered the phone suggested that Mitchell’s camp was blowing the incident out of proportion.
Hayworth, Forward readers will recall, has previously come under fire for quoting Henry Ford in his book.