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CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL: Three-State Jewish Push, Jackson on ‘Zionists,’ Jewish Pols Upgraded

3 State Jewish Push

With three weeks to go until Election Day, Barack Obama’s campaign seems to be betting the kibbutz on three states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Those three are the three swing states with the largest Jewish population that really has the most likely chance of affecting the outcome,” Dan Shapiro, Obama’s national Jewish outreach coordinator told the Forward Sunday night.

Public polls show the contest is close in Ohio and Florida, and that Obama has a wide lead in Pennsylvania (although campaign aides and political insiders believe the Pennsylvania race is narrower).

Shapiro will be based in Ohio, but will continue traveling to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Eric Lynn, Obama’s national Jewish vote director will be in Florida, where another staffer was also recently added.

Democrats also have a dedicated state staffer in Ohio for Jewish outreach and several people devoting significant time around Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Shapiro allowed that the Jewish vote could still play a critical role in Nevada or Colorado, two other battlegrounds Democrats hope to win.

— Brett Lieberman

Jackson on ‘Zionists’

The campaigns entered a brief whirlwind of fury after an article in the New York Post accused Jesse Jackson of promising a move away from the “Zionists” if Barack Obama becomes president.

According to the Post report, Jackson told an audience in France that if elected, Obama would change U.S. foreign policy after “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” and that “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” would lose much of their clout.

But shortly after the publication, questions were raised about whether Jackson’s quotes were accurate. Through his Rainbow Push Coalition, Jackson issued a statement Oct. 15 accusing the New York Post columnist Amir Taheri of deliberately misrepresenting his message.

“The writer is selectively imposing his own point of view, and distorting mine,” Jackson said, adding that he stands “forthrightly for the security and stability of Israel.”

Taheri has been accused in the past of inaccuracies when he claimed in a newspaper article that the Iranian regime intends to require all Jews in the country to carry a yellow patch. This claim was later proven to be wrong.

The Republican Jewish Coalition said that Jackson “confirmed the Jewish community’s long-standing concerns with Barack Obama’s policies on Israel and the Middle East.”

The Obama campaign issued a statement distancing the candidate from Jackson and saying that “Barack Obama has a fundamental commitment to a strong U.S. – Israel relationship.”

An Obama spokeswoman made clear Jackson is not an adviser for the candidate.

*— Nathan Guttman *

Jewish Pols Upgraded

Buoyed by their cash advantage, national polling favoring Democratic candidates as well as local issues, congressional Democrats have upgraded several races including those of a blind rabbi in New Jersey and a 29-year-old Jewish lawyer in Alabama.

Dennis Shulman, a psychologist-turned-rabbi-turned-candidate, and Josh Segall, the founder of “Homegrown Alabama,” which encourages schools to purchase food from local farmers, are among eight candidates added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program.

Red to Blue races represent the districts held by Republicans that the DCCC believes may be winnable.

The designation often means that the DCCC will invest its own cash in the races. But it can also be a signal to outside groups and donors which races are considered priorities in which to put their money.

Shulman is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Garret and Segall is challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.

— Brett Lieberman

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