The Pennsylvania Republican State Party has fired a strategist over an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that warns a vote for Barack Obama would be a “tragic mistake” with parallels to the “ignored warning signs of the 1930s and 1940s.”
The e-mail, which a GOP spokesman says was sent without the party’s authorization, falsely warns that Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee “taught members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud” during his community organizing days.
The e-mail was signed by several prominent Pennsylvania Republicans who are supporting GOP presidential nominee John McCain. They were Sandra Schultz Newman, a former Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice; developer Mitchell L. Morgan, a top fund-raiser from the Philadelphia area for McCain as well as other Republicans including President Bush and former U.S. Sen Rick Santorum; and I. Michael Coslow, a steel industry exec.
A spokesman for the state party, Michael Barley, tells the New York Times, that state party leaders repudiated the message sent Friday and that Bryan Rudnick, the strategist who helped draft it, had been fired.
“There were some points that were accurate, there were two that we cannot substantiate, however; as a result of them we’ve let him go,” Michael Barley told The Times.
“There are points that could have been made and he touched on some of them, but he definitely went a little bit farther than the facts would support,” he said.
Democrats blasted what one Jewish Democrat calls a “blatantly false and incendiary e-mail” that was “just one more vicious smear.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and state Rep. Josh Shapiro, both of whom are leading Obama surrogates held a conference call with reporters Saturday afternoon to respond to the e-mail.
Keep reading for the full, unedited, text of the e-mail that was provided to the Forward:
With three weeks to go until Election Day, Barack Obama’s campaign seems to be betting the kibbutz on three states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Those three are the three swing states with the largest Jewish population that really has the most likely chance of affecting the outcome,” Dan Shapiro, Obama’s national Jewish outreach coordinator told the Forward Sunday night.
With three weeks until Election Day, Barack Obama’s top Jewish outreach coordinators are taking up residence in Ohio and Florida, while the campaign has added staff to its Jewish outreach efforts in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“I’m spending two of the next three weeks in Ohio as an indicator of how we’re deploying our resources,” Shapiro said before a rally near Cleveland at the Landerhaven banquet hall headlined by Dennis Ross, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, U.S. Rep. Jane Harman of California and Alan Solow, a Chicago Jewish leader and a longtime Obama friend.
While Shapiro will be based in Ohio, but will continue to travel to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Chicago and Washington, D.C., Eric Lynn, Obama’s national Jewish vote director will be in Florida, where another staffer was also recently added.
Democrats also have a dedicated state staffer in Ohio for Jewish outreach and several people devoting significant time around Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
Shapiro allowed that the the Jewish vote could still play a critical role in Nevada or Colorado, two other battlegrounds Democrats hope to win.
Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida – all key traditional presidential battlegrounds and all traditional battlegrounds for the Jewish vote will likely be critical once again in this year’s contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
Two other states to watch though will be Virginia, where 1.3 percent of the population is Jewish, and Colorado, where 1.7 percent of the population is Jewish, Matt Berger of MSNBC/National Journal predicted on a conference call organized by the United Jewish Communities to discuss the election.
Critical to the election will be what Berger called the “Lieberman Democrats,” those voters like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, who place a premium on security issues. They may be wary of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s lack of experience, he said.
Younger Jewish voters, who are trending conservative in their votes and more open to supporting Republicans, are another critical demographic.
Finally, “Schlepers,” the elderly vote in Florida will be critical as usual in that state, Berger said. Many of these traditionally Democratic voters supported President Bush in 2004 and are looking for a reason to vote for Obama. Yet they remain hesitant to support him.
“They want a reason to vote Democratic and they are wary about Obama,” Berger said. “They need to be convinced that it is OK to vote Obama.” Jewish Democratic leaders have predicted that Obama will do as well or better than 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry did. But Berger was skeptical that Obama will draw the 75 percent of Jewish support that exit polls showed voted for Kerry.