Campaign Confidential

Obama's Still a Tough Sell in South Florida

By Brett Lieberman

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A panel discussion on the issues that matter to Jewish voters and which way they’ll vote in this year’s presidential election quickly descended into a harsh criticism of the lack of understanding of the challenges Barack Obama faces winning over the “condo” vote of older South Florida voters, a potentially key group in a battleground state.

“We need to recognize that there is a problem,” said State Sen. Steven Geller, the Florida state Senate minority leader.

Geller and his colleague, state Senator Nan H. Rich, told a crowd of about 150 people attending a discussion the National Jewish Democratic Council organized of a hostile environment in which a mob mentality has taken hold. The problem is primarily among older residents living in condominium communities and more religious voters in Broward, Dade and south Palm Beach counties, where most of the region’s Jewish population lives.

Interpretations that Obama’s struggles to win over Jewish voters is due to Jewish support for Republican John McCain ignore what they described as an anti-Obama reality on the ground.

Rep. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat and key early Obama backer, “has almost been attacked” in strongholds of his South Florida district, Geller said.

Rich told a similar story of Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey being verbally assaulted when he came down to promote Obama.

“He walked away shocked,” said Rich, who faults misinformation campaigns by groups such as the Republican Jewish Council and debunked rumors spread via the Internet about Obama being Muslim, not saluting the American flag or being anti-Israel.

Obama’s support in polls is at the low-end of the historical curve of Jewish support for Democratic candidates, and especially low for Democrats since the early 1990s, according to pollsters Mark Mellman and Anna Greenberg. But Obama’s difficulties are hardly limited to Jewish voters. The pollsters and other panelist noted that Obama has generally drawn less support among white voters and older voters.

Obama supporters have had some success countering what they view as inaccurate information in small groups, but “when there is 300 people in a room they feed off each other and don’t want to listen to us,” said Geller, adding that the misinformation festers in these communities.

Rich urged Obama to spend time in South Florida doing a “condo tour” to dispel the misinformation and help these residents grow more comfortable with him.

Appearances by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, who remains popular, on behalf of McCain and the lack of Obama surrogates of comparable stature have exacerbated the problem.

“We probably don’t have anybody of that stature down touring,” said Geller.

Obama’s selection of Joseph Biden as his vice presidential running mate may make a dent because of the Delaware senator’s long-time support for the Jewish community. But even that likely isn’t enough.

“Senator [Hillary] Clinton and Bill Clinton might be the only people who could make a difference,” he said.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Florida, Barack Obama, John McCain

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yona loriner Tue. Aug 26, 2008

has anyone ever heard of the lightstone group? he supported hillary clinton i wonder if he is supporting obama now..? i doubt hillery kissing obamas tuches will get her into the vp chair!!!!!!!!!!!

yona loriner Tue. Aug 26, 2008

i meant "doubted"

mb Thu. Sep 4, 2008

you must realize obaba is an active part of the extreme anti-america of the democrat party will the baggage that entails this will not sell to the traditional jewish voter

Bill Levinson Thu. Sep 4, 2008

Re: "debunked rumors spread via the Internet about Obama being Muslim, not saluting the American flag or being anti-Israel." The first is indeed a rumor. Obama belongs to a racist albeit nominally Christian church, the one whose pastor called upon God to curse America. The others are not rumors. Obama stood with his hands folded in front of him while Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson, who were next to him, had their hands over their hearts for the National Anthem. There is a picture, and in fact a video, of this. Obama's church promoted divestment from Israel, questioned Israel's legitimacy, and published a blood libel of Israel, all in official church publications. Obama personally endorsed the prominent racist and anti-Semite Al Sharpton in April 2007, along with Sharpton's National Action Network: the same organization that screamed racial and anti-Semitic epithets at Freddy's Fashion Mart in 1995, while under Sharpton's personal supervision and leadership. As Obama's racist pastor Jeremiah Wright said, the chickens are now coming home to roost...

Dave Moto Fri. Sep 5, 2008

No way, no how will my family or I vote for Obama or any more democrats. We have had enough with the antisemite Carter, Clintons Arab buddies (#1 guest at the white house Arafat!) "JJ" calling Judaism a Gutter Religion, and this fraud of Obama. We voted democrat while the Gas chambers churned with Roosevelt. No more blind loyalty!

Perry Sat. Sep 6, 2008

Jews FEAR Obama because he was born from a Muslim father and attended school for years in a Muslim country and was registered as a Muslim. Maybe, just maybe, he WAS a Muslim. There are also huge gaps in his known biography (and what kind of person writes TWO autobiographies before he's even 50?). When he decided to be a Christian, he joined a church run by an anti-white, anti-American, anti-Semite who had even passed out writings from a member of HAMAS. He remained a member there for 20 years, exposing his young daughters to this vile venom, leaving only when he would pay a POLITICAL price. He has nobody from his past who vouches for him like McCain has or Kerry has. He has long relationships with backers like the Syrian slumlord Tony Rezko and domestic terrorist William Ayers, both of whom raised much money for Obama and for whom Obama arranged government fundind in Illinois. Aside from that, what has he ever done? Why do the Palestinians love him? Who IS Barack Obama?

yona loriner Mon. Sep 8, 2008

i find it very difficult to believe that obama will get the jewish vote!! mccain so so much more pro israel

Toby Rosenbaum Tue. Sep 23, 2008

Obama does NOT have Muslim leanings and has always been a big supporter of Israel. He has called for continued US cooperation with Israel and defended and supported financial assistance to her. Many of Obama’s top advisors are Jewish, including his closest advisor – David Axelrod. Plus hasn't McCain done an about-face over the last several years to a more conservative platform? With his recent pick of Sarah Palin, it is scary to see where his focus now lies. Take a minute and look at her church. Just a few months ago, Palin addressed the graduating class of commission students at her one-time church, Wasilla Assembly of God. Speaking before the Pentecostal church, Palin painted the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord. What would our country look like if she G-d forbid were President? My 9 year old daughter already complains about her public school having Christmas trees and no Chanukah menorahs. We don't need 4 more years of George Bush.

yona loriner Sun. Oct 5, 2008

Longtime champion of the ski industry, particularly skiing in Utah and more specific Park City, has passed away. At 87 years old, Nick Badami, former owner of Park City Mountain Resort who purchased the resort in 1975, was a prominent figure in Utah Skiing. Often remember for being a champaign in bringing World Cup racing to the resort while he and his son were at the helm. He was on the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and had skiing and Utah skiing as a priority throughout his career. On behalf of the Ski Utah Blog I want to pass along my condolences to the Badami family and say “Thank You fine sir” for the influence you had on the industry we love

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