Campaign Confidential

The Buchanan-Palin Connection

By Brett Lieberman

Was Sarah Palin, Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate, a Buchananite?

There’s been a lot of speculation that the former mayor of Wasilla supported Patrick Buchanan after The Nation dug up an old Associated Press story that reported she welcomed the controversial conservative to a reception in Wasilla and wore a Buchanan button.

The McCain campaign denies Palin ever backed Buchanan.

We caught up with Buchanan this morning at Key’s Cafe (“Minnesota’s most awarded family restaurant”), where MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” programming is broadcasting during the Republican National Convention week to get his take on the whole episode.

“This is odd because I wasn’t even on the ballot in 2000,” Buchanan told the Forward. “I dropped out and went for the reform party. I dropped out in 1999 and the caucuses were in 2000, so I wasn’t even on the ballot in 2000.”

This may not clarify things since the AP story was from 1999, when Buchanan acknowledges he was still running as a Republican.

As for Palin, he says, “I think she’s a terrific pick. I think she’s terrific.”


Slim Pickings in the Twin Cities

By Brett Lieberman

Even before John McCain and the GOP scaled back on this week’s Republican National Convention, there weren’t nearly as many public events geared toward Jewish voters on the schedule as the Democrats held last week in Denver. Republicans have been hoping to win over Jewish voters. The lack of events targeting Jewish or Israel issues may simply reflect the fact that the vast majority of Jewish voters have historically supported Democratic candidates.

Here’s most of what’s on the table now. This could all change given the uncertainty caused by Gustav pummeling the Gulf Coast. We’ll add more as they become known.

Monday, September 1 American Jewish Committee and Jewish Community Relations Council host a discussion on achieving energy independence.

American Jewish Committee reception for diplomatic corps

Tuesday, September 2

American Jewish Committee and Jewish Community Relations Council host a discussion on advancing the Indian-Jewish relationship.

Roundtable Discussion with RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks on “The GOP and Issues Effecting the Jewish Community”

Salute to GOP Governors

Wednesday, Sept. 3

American Jewish Committee and Jewish Community Relations Council host a discussion on issues for a growing Latino-Jewish coalition.

Thursday, September 4

American Jewish Committee and Jewish Community Relations Council host a discussion on America and the quest for Middle East peace and security.

Salute to Pro-Israel Elected Officials

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a staunch McCain supporter and the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was scheduled to speak during Monday night’s program that’s been scrapped. It’s unclear whether he and other canceled speakers will be rescheduled.


GOP Convention May Give Coleman a Boost

By Brett Lieberman

Republicans hope that the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul may put the state in play for GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The state is considered a toss-up that leans Democratic. Democrats have won the state the last eight elections, including 1984, when Minnesotans stuck with hometown favorite Walter F. Mondale.

The convention may give a boost to another hometown favorite, Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican seeking a second term who is opposed by comedian Al Franken, a Democrat.

The Senate seat has been held by Jewish lawmakers since 1978.

A recent University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute/Minnesota Public Radio poll shows Franken with a 1 percent advantage.

Coleman, a former St. Paul mayor, certainly found plenty of support and people wanting to shake his hand Sunday night as he walked around a reception for delegates and guests at the Minneapolis Convention Center.


RJC Fashion Show Goes On Amid Scaled Back GOP Convention

By Brett Lieberman

With Hurricane/Tropical Storm Gustav barreling down on the Gulf Coast, Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain said that convention-goers should take off their Republican hats and put on their American hats in an effort to avoid the perception that the GOP is having a party at the same time of a potential national disaster.

Much of today’s formal Twin Cities schedule at the Republican National Convention has been scrapped, but that doesn’t mean there’s no fun and games.

Parties and receptions will go on. The same goes for a planned Republican Jewish Coalition fashion show featuring guest of honor Hadassah Lieberman, who was scheduled to give remarks and not walk down the runway.

Her husband, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was scheduled to speak Monday night at the convention. But his speech as well as those of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were scrubbed because of the scaled back convention. Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, said the campaign hoped to give all the speakers an opportunity to speak, but it was unclear when or if that will happen.

Even though the fashion show, including a silent auction and luncheon, organized by the RJC’s National Women’s Committee Event was to benefit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, perceptions of a fashion show/fund-raiser going on was a bit too much for the sober image McCain and convention organizers were trying.

Perception and image being the most important thing these days in politics, the fashion show is going on. Yet we received notice Sunday night that it’s now closed to the media – meaning no photos or news reports.


Making History in Denver

By Brett Lieberman

Democrat Barack Obama is set tonight to make history by becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of a major political party.

Hours earlier Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will do his part to make history as the first rabbi to deliver the invocation on the night of a nominee’s acceptance speech.

Saperstein will take the stage at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium sometime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Senior Obama campaign officials and Jewish communal leaders say it was no accident that a rabbi was asked to do the invocation. The campaign has made a big push to win over Jewish voters and also appear religiously inclusive.

When we asked for a preview of his message, Saperstein promised to send us a text message at 3 a.m. just as Obama’s campaign did to announce his vice presidential running-mate selection.

“I’m still working on what to say and I probably will until the last minute,” he said earlier in the week.

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