Florida Democrats are gearing up for a Republican blitz on the Sunshine State and especially its large Jewish population by slamming Mitt Romney.
As a preventive measure, leading Jewish Democrats on Monday moved to counter, in advance, any attempt by GOP candidates to convince Jewish Floridians that President Obama is not a strong supporter of Israel.
“We wanted to make sure the record is clear,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee in a press conference call.
Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish and who represents a Florida district with many Jewish voters, went through the Democratic talking points on Obama’s assistance to Israel on security and policy issues, including his decision to increase military aid to Israel and his diplomatic effort to counter a unilateral Palestinian drive for statehood.
Interestingly enough, Democratic leaders seemed intent on ignoring the recent surge of Newt Gingrich in the Republican primary race. They instead continued to focus their attacks on Mitt Romney, who until recently was considered the front-runner but is now in a fight to stop Gingrich’s momentum.
“Governor Romney adopted a set of foreign policy priorities that do not match those of Floridians,” said former congressman Robert Wexler, who is among the key surrogates for the Obama campaign in the Jewish community. Wexler accused Romney of being inconsistent on the issue of Iran and of receiving donations from companies dealing with Iran.
“This entire week is Romney’s to lose,” Wasserman Schultz explained the Democrats’ focus on the former Massachusetts governor.
Polling data suggests that Romney would be a tougher candidate for President Obama to beat, while Gingrich is viewed as having less on an appeal to moderates and swing-state voters.
Both Wasserman Schultz and Wexler stressed that the GOP candidates are using the Israel issue because differences between their views on domestic issues and those of Jewish voters are too deep.
“They know that on domestic issues they have no appeal at all to Jewish voters,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.