Campaign Confidential

Zimmer Joins GOP Chorus Calling For Ted Stevens Resignation

By Brett Lieberman

The number of fellow Republicans that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens can count on as friends appears to be diminishing.

Former Congressman Dick Zimmer, the GOP nominee challenging Senator Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey, is among the latest calling for Stevens to resign after his conviction on federal corruption charges.

“A culture of corruption has plagued our government for far too long,” Zimmer said in a statement. “Too many people in power have manipulated the political process to criminally enrich themselves.”

“The worst thing that can happen is for honest elected officials to sit idly by and say nothing. Today, I am calling on Senator Stevens to resign, and I ask that Senator Lautenberg join me in this demand. Perhaps Senator Stevens will heed the advice of someone who has served with him so long on the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

Zimmer, who trails in polls, has campaigned on restoring ethical and fiscal integrity to government. The New Jersey Senate election features two Jewish candidates.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ted Stevens, New Jersey, Election, Dick Zimmer, Senate, Frank Lautenberg

Inquirer Endorses Zimmer Over Lautenberg in N.J.

By Brett Lieberman

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has built “a solid reputation delivering federal funds to New Jersey for mass transit, beach replenishment and road projects” over four decades in the Senate, but the Philadelphia Inquirer calls former Congressman Dick Zimmer “a viable alternative.”

The Inky threw its support and endorsement in the New Jersey Senate election behind Zimmer, who the paper notes has a reputation as a fiscal conservative, who bucks his party and would fight earmarks, but also has a reputation being being a moderate.

The most recent polls show Lautenberg with a 13 to 22 point advantage.

The New Jersey race is one of two this year that features two Jewish candidates. The other is the close fight in Minnesota between incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Dick Zimmer, Frank Lautenberg, Election, Senate, Al Franken, Norm Coleman, New Jersey, Minnesota

Obama Chats With 900 Rabbis on Issues and Renewal

By Brett Lieberman

Rosh Hashanah is more than a week away, but Barack Obama drew upon the High Holy Days themes of renewal and rededication in a conference call with more than 900 rabbis.

“I know that for rabbis this is the busiest time of the year as you prepare for the High Holy Days,” the Democratic presidential candidate told the rabbis on Thursday, according to a statement his campaign provided.

“So I am grateful for a few minutes of your time. I extend my New Years greetings to you and to your congregations and communities. I want to wish everybody a Shana Tovah and I hope that you will convey my wishes to all of those you pray and celebrate with this Rosh Hashanah,” Obama said. “The Jewish New Year is unlike the new years of any other cultures. In part because it’s not simply a time for revelry; it’s a time for what might be called determined rejoicing. A time to put your affairs with other people in order so you can honestly turn to God. A time to recommit to the serious work of tikkun olam―of mending the world.”

Obama was introduced on the call by Rabbi Sam Gordon of Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, Ill. and Rabbi Eliott Dorf, vice-chair of the Conservative Movements Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and Professor at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. The two are involved in the new Rabbis for Obama group.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Barack Obama, Rabbis for Obama, Democrats, Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, Union of Reform Judaism, Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Orthodox Union, Election, President

Israel a Non-Issue That Might Haunt U.S. Election

By Brett Lieberman

Israel has”ceased to exist as a campaign issue” at the moment in this year’s presidential contest, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.

In fact, writing in Haaretz, Bradley Burston notes Israel’s influence on the election could be one military strike, one peace deal or one terrorist strike away.

He outlines a half dozen ways, most of which are not good news, in which Israel could once again become a central U.S. election issue.

In a separate article, Burston breaks down the Democratic and Republican party platforms on Israel.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Election, President, Israel

Ed Koch: U.S. 'Safer' With Obama

By Brett Lieberman

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who bucked the Democratic Party and endorsed President Bush over Democrat John Kerry in 2004, has no regrets about that decision. Kerry did not fully understood the need to support Israel at the time, he says.

“That is not an issue in this election,” Koch writes in a statement today. “Both parties and their candidates have made clear, before and during this election campaign their understanding of the need to support Israel and oppose acts of terrorism waged against it by Hamas and other Muslim supporters of terrorism.”

For him, it comes down to who will “best protect and defend America.”

The answer, according to Koch, is that “the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party.”

Besides issues such as civil rights, health care, taxation and abortion rights, Koch writes that “Frankly, it would scare me if [GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin] were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.”

Here’s Koch’s full statement:

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Republicans, Election, McCain, Obama, Israel, Democrats, President, Koch

Too Much or Too Little Faith in Politics?

By Brett Lieberman

From Muslim imams to conservative rabbis and practically every faith in between, religion and religious leaders were front and center at the recent Republican and Democratic political conventions. Expect more of the same in the coming two months as Barack Obama and John McCain and their political parties court the religious vote.

But is this a good thing?

Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, a frequent opponent of the intersection of government, politics and religion, says “This may be good politics, but it is not healthy for our nation” as he weighs in with an Op-Ed for JTA.

What do you think?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Obama, Election, Politics, Religion, Democrats, Republicans, Conventions, McCain

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.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: convention, Palin, Buchanan, president, Republican, vice president, election

Lieberman Still Part of GOP Convention Schedule

By Brett Lieberman

Republicans apparently couldn’t pass up the chance to include Democrat-turned-Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as part of their convention program, and of course the chance to poke Democrats.

Lieberman, who was scheduled to speak during Monday’s opening program that was abbreviated because of Hurricane Gustav, will speak Tuesday night, the Associated Press reports.

The changing line-up means that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be bumped.

Lieberman told CNN he plans to talk about ” “why I am an independent Democrat voting for Sen. McCain,” according to AP.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: McCain, president, election, Lieberman, Democrats, Republicans

Schumer Plans Florida Swing to Court Jewish Vote

By Brett Lieberman

Hoping to make up ground in a key battleground state, Democrats are sending in some of their big guns to court the Jewish vote.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer will pinch hit for Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama in the Sunshine state this weeend.

Schumer, architect of the Democrats’ gains in the Senate, will speak with voters at the Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura, Temple Solel in Hollywood and Temple Beth Shalom in Century Village in Boca Raton on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Republican John McCain has stronger than usual support for a GOP candidate in part because of concerns about Obama among Jewish voters. Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman has also provided a critical boost for McCain among Jewish voters.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Voter, Florida, President, Obama, Schumer, McCain, Democrats, Lieberman, Republicans, Election

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.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: McCain, Jewish, Election, Convention, Democrats, Lieberman

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.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Convention, Election, Coleman, Republican, Democrat, Minnesota, Senate

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.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Denver, Democrats, Jewish, Convention, Election

Report: 'Rove Tried To Kill Lieberman VP Pick'

By Brett Lieberman

Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman rejected a request by former presidential aide Karl Rove to withdraw his name from consideration as John McCain’s vice presidential pick, according to a report by Politico.

Three sources confirmed the effort by the controversial architect of President Bush’s election and one person told the news organization that Lieberman refused to make the call.

There’s strong support for choosing Lieberman within the McCain campaign, according to columnist Robert Novak, who warns picking Lieberman would be disastrous.

The Democrat-turned-Independent senator has campaigned for McCain, the Republican presidential candidate and a good friend, because Lieberman supports his stances on Iraq and foreign policy. His support for McCain, and sharp criticism for Democrat Barack Obama and Democrats, has widened a rift between Lieberman and his Democratic friends.

Reports say that McCain has selected his running mate and will notify that individual on Thursday. The pair will make their first joint appearance at a large campaign rally in Ohio on Friday.

While Lieberman appeals to many moderates and Independent voters, Jewish voters and the move would bolster McCain’s reputation as a maverick, conservatives such as talk show host Rush Limbaugh have warned such a move would blow-up the Republican Party. Lieberman and McCain agree on foreign policy matters, but Lieberman’s support for abortion rights and many other social and domestic issue positions run counter to conservative and Republican agendas.

Selecting Lieberman would certainly shake up the presidential race and be seen as unconventional – two things that analysts say McCain need to do.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Lieberman, Independents, Democrats, Vice President, Republicans, Obama, McCain, President, Election

Democrats Predict 'Historic' Jewish Vote for Obama

By Brett Lieberman

Barack Obama is under-performing in his support among Jewish voters compared to Democratic candidates’ historical performance, according to pollsters. Yet Jewish leaders in Congress predict the soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee will exceed Democrats’ usual support within the Jewish community.

“We believe there is broad, deep and enthusiastic support for Barack Obama in the Jewish community,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said in a news conference announced after elected officials from Florida voiced concerns about the response to Obama in that key state.

Obama’s been a strong and unwavering supporter of Israel — “He never flinched from it,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. — and has also supported legislative proposals to prohibit U.S. pension funds and companies from doing business with Iran, Democratic leaders said.

“Let the Jewish community know that Barack Obama is a friend of Israel,” said U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

Obama’s support for abortion rights, gun control, health care, Social Security and other domestic issues is more in sync with the views of Jewish voters, they said.

Earlier this week, pollsters Anna Greenberg and Mark Mellman said that Obama is garnering the support of around 60% to 62% of Jewish voters, which puts him at the low end of the spectrum that Democratic candidates have historically enjoyed. Since the early 1990s when the Republican Party embraced the evangelical community, the Jewish vote has shifted heavily to Democrats, who have won close to 80% of the Jewish vote.

The lawmakers contend that Obama’s support will grow to record levels by the November 4 election.

“The support that Sen. Obama enjoys …is substantial and growing,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla.

California Rep. Adam Schiff predicted “historically high” support for Obama.

Nobody doubts that Obama will win a majority of the Jewish vote. But the question remains whether the margin will be a historically high or low.

“I believe Obama is poised to do well,” said Wexler.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: President, Election, Obama, Democrats, Republicans




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