“I’ll introduce you to some Jewish women,” offered Suzanne Kurtz, spokeswoman for the Republican Jewish Coalition.
It wasn’t exactly the typical sales pitch to attend a political event and there was no official matchmaker, yet it proved effective.
A joint vice presidential debate-watching party that RJC’s National Women’s Committee co-hosted with the Republican womens’ groups RightNOW! and Women Impacting the Nation (WIN) drew a crowd of a couple hundred Republicans including many Republican Jews to cheer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and jeer Sen. Joseph Biden to a downtown Washington law firm.
The event attracted a crowd of mostly young women, but also a large number of men, who not surprisingly gave Palin stellar reviews for her debate performance.
“Sarah Palin is going to kick some tuckus,” Shelley Hymes, a member of all three organizations predicted during a reception prior to the debate.
Hymes was not disappointed in the Republican vice presidential nominee’s performance.
“I thought she was amazing,” she said immediately after the 90-minute debate ended. “She surpassed expectations.”
Thursday night’s event was one of a number of events planned by RJC’s women’s committee since GOP nominee John McCain selected Palin as his running mate.
Though analysts say Palin’s selection may scare off some Jews concerned about her lack of foreign policy experience, it’s been a boon to the women’s group.
“For groups like mine, this is an unprecedented time,” said Lisa Spies, the group’s executive director. Spies said she’s receiving 20 to 30 e-mails a day compared to three to four a week pre-Palin.
The group is planning other watch parties for upcoming debates and election night, but no major fundraising push is planned to take advantage of the enthusiasm.
“Right now I’m just excited to get people participating, to have people excited,” Spies said.
Like many Republicans, Jews and non-Jews, in the audience, Michael Berenhaus, an optometrist in nearby Bethesda, Md., worried before the debate about about how Palin would perform because of several shaky recent interviews with Katie Couric on CBS News and Charles Gibson of ABC News. So, he was relieved when she took strong and unwavering positions, and particularly her staunch support for Israel during the debate.
“I was nervous, but deep down I knew she could do it,” said Berenhaus, who added that “The difference between her and Democrats is she’s not going to change how she feels about Israel the next day when the Arabs protest.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council did not host a similar vice presidential debate watch party. But a spokesman said that the group doesn’t need to use promises of dating opportunities to lure guests to its events.
Democrat Barack Obama enjoys a nearly 2-1 advantage among Jewish voters over Republican John McCain, yet his support continues to lag well-behind historical levels that Democrats have enjoyed from the Jewish community, according to a new survey of Jewish voters.
The American Jewish Committee’s 2008 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion shows Obama leading McCain 57 percent to 30 percent. Another 13 percent of the 914 self-identifying Jewish respondents surveyed said they were undecided. Exit polls showed that John Kerry received 76 percent of the Jewish vote in 2004.
The poll is the latest evidence that Obama continues to struggle winning over Jewish voters despite the optimism expressed by campaign aides and members of the National Jewish Democratic Council at the organization’s Washington conference this week.
The telephone survey by Synovate was conducted by Sept. 8-21. It has a 3 percent margin of error.
Nearly three quarters of those surveyed approved of Obama’s selection of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate. Fifty-four percent of respondents disapproved of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s choice for vice president.
Democrats have viewed the Palin selection as good news because they say many Jewish voters are turned off by her lack of foreign policy credentials and lack of prior statements about Israel.
More than half of those surveyed – 54 percent – said they want to hear the candidates talk more about the economy. Only 3 percent cites Israel as the issue they want to hear discussed more.
By overwhelming margins, respondents predicted Democrats would do a better job addressing terrorism, strengthening the economy, supporting Israel, working towards energy independence, and the Iraq war.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, spoke by phone with the leadership of AIPAC this afternoon.
According to Jewish leaders and campaign officials, Biden and AIPAC leaders had “a warm conversation” that lasted about 20 minutes.
Biden, who was introduced by AIPAC President David Victor, spoke of his long relationship with the organization that extends back to the 1970s. He also spoke of his longstanding support of Israel.
“It was an opportunity to call and talk about some of the issues they’ve worked on in the past and some of the issues they can continue to work on,” said a campaign official.
The conference call was one of a number that Biden has conducted in recent days with the leaderships of various influential organizations.
Alaska Gov. **Sarah Palin*, the Republican vice presidential candidate, met with AIPAC leaders for about 45 minutes during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul earlier this month.
Biden and presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain have no meetings scheduled with AIPAC leaders, though the organization signaled it would be delighted if the candidates’ schedules permitted for such a gathering.
AIPAC issued the following statement after the Biden conference call:
“We had a very warm conversation with Senator Biden today, as we have many times throughout the years, about the importance of the U.S-Israel relationship, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. We had an opportunity to express our appreciation for his strong leadership in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we were pleased to hear Senator Biden reaffirm his desire to maintain his close relationship with AIPAC as we work together to strengthen the special friendship between the two democracies over many years to come.
“Senator Biden is a strong supporter of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship, and has longstanding, close ties to AIPAC and the pro-Israel community. Throughout his career in the Senate, he has been a staunch supporter of U.S. aid to Israel, a leader in the fight against Palestinian terrorism, a vocal advocate for the special relationship between the two democracies, and he shares our goal of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Joe Biden has been to Israel numerous times and has gotten to know many of Israel’s most important leaders, starting with Golda Meir.
“Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have determined their respective tickets, AIPAC is pleased that the parties have selected four pro-Israel candidates. In so doing, they have reaffirmed the broad bi-partisan support that exists in our country for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Update “Sen. Biden expressed his appreciation for AIPAC’s important work supporting Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that he looks forward to continuing to work with them as partners on these issues in the future as he has in the past,” said a campaign adviser.
U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, is expected to headline the National Jewish Democratic Council’s upcoming Washington conference, which is focused on mobilizing the Jewish vote, NJDC officials said.
Democrats hope that Biden of Delaware will be able to counter some of the influence that Senator Joseph Lieberman has had among Jewish voters in crucial battleground states including Florida. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, has been an enormous asset for Republican John McCain, reassuring voters about his support for Israel among other issues as well as raise doubts about Democrat Barack Obama’s experience.
NJDC’s September 23-24 program at the Washington Hilton includes sessions on handicapping the 2008 elections, how new media changes the way voters can be reached, and common issues facing the Jewish and African American communities.
The time and date of Biden’s address has not been set. Other unconfirmed invited speakers include former Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama.
With a recent U.S. intelligence report concluding that Iran has likely halted its nuclear weapons program, the Democratic candidates wasted little time before attacking the Bush administration over its handling of the Iranian nuclear issue — and decrying the president’s response to the report.
The L.A. Times reports on what the candidates said on the matter during a national Public Radio debate:
Senator Hillary Clinton:
I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing’s changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. We do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect. I think that is an important lesson.
Senator Joseph Biden:
It was like watching a rerun of his statements on Iraq five years earlier. Iran is not a nuclear threat to the United States of America. Iran should be dealt with directly, with the rest of the world at our side. But we’ve made it more difficult now, because who is going to trust us?
What I believe is that this president, who, just a few weeks ago, was talking about World War III, he, the vice president, the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. We know that they’ve prepared contingency plans for a military attack.
Senator Barack Obama:
What I’ve been consistent about was that this saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq, a war I opposed, and that we needed to oppose George Bush again. We can’t keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, knowing the ways in which they manipulate intelligence.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich:
When people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric. What I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mindset that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.
According to Newsday, Edwards and Senator Chris Dodd both ripped Hillary for backing a resolution in Congress calling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
“This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we’re in a global war on terror,” Edwards said.
Dodd said that Clinton’s vote “specifically eliminated any option except the military one.”
Clinton, however, said that the resolution caused Iran to reduce its actions in Iraq. “”I think we’ve actually seen the positive effects of having labeled them a terrorist organization,” she said.
Dodd also said that he’s buying his kids Christmas toys from Iowa.