Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn’t formally announced she is running in 2016, but the battle over the Jewish vote is already on.
On Tuesday, a group of Jewish Democrats launched Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary, raising money and support for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
It is part of the broader Ready for Hillary campaign that was launched last January and that already has 2 million supporters and 55,000 donors. “We all wear many hats,” said Rachel Schneider, Ready for Hillary’s Jewish Americans director in a statement put out by organizers of the new group. Schneider, who also serves as Ready for Hillary’s Young Americans Director, added that “with the launch of Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary, we’re appealing to people who want Hillary to run and who identify as a Jewish American to join and to help recruit other Jews to join in this special effort.”
The new organization is the brainchild of three Jewish activists: Marc Stanley, a Dallas lawyer who until recently served as chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council , Fran Katz Watson, who was finance director for AIPAC and for the Democratic National Committee, and Steve Rabinowitz, a former Clinton White House press aide who now heads a Washington PR firm. “We love her. It’s that simple. We want her to be president. And now, we have one more way to show her that we want her to run,” Rabinowitz said in the statement.
The main way of showing this love is, not surprisingly, by using one’s checkbook. The website allows Jewish supporters to contribute online any sum up to a maximum of $25,000. “This effort isn’t only about money,” Katz Watson said, “but it certainly includes money. We want your names, we want your time, we want your enthusiasm, but we also want a little of your money.”
Clinton, the most visible unofficial candidate in the field of Democrats and Republicans testing the water for a presidential run, has already paid her obligatory visits to Jewish communal events. In recent months she was the honored speaker at annual gatherings of the American Jewish Congress, a once prominent national Jewish organization that has since shrunk in size and activity, and at the American Jewish Committee’s Washington gathering, where she stressed in her speech her role in increasing sanctions pressure on Iran and voiced a tough stance toward the Islamic Republic and a fair share of skepticism toward the administration’s diplomatic efforts aimed at reaching a nuclear deal.
During the tough Democratic primary run in 2008, Jewish supporters split between Clinton and Barack Obama, with most falling in line behind Obama once he clinched the nomination.
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.