Forward Thinking

Ed Koch Weighs In for Obama

By Nathan Guttman

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With the presidential election only days away, it is time for both campaigns to pull out their strongest arguments and best presenters in order to make that final push just a little bit more effective.

For Jewish Democrats, this means getting out Ed Koch, former mayor of New York, for a warm endorsement of President Barack Obama. In a campaign video released Wednesday Koch speaks at length about Obama’s record on Israel, and then moves on to praise the president’s economic policies. To make clear at whom this ad is directed, producers of the video made sure to film Koch with a large menorah in the background.

Koch is an important figure for the Obama campaign not only because of his standing in the Jewish community. Koch is especially valuable because of his on-again, off-again endorsements of the President, which may give him credibility as a straight-shooter with some undecided voters.

An outspoken supporter of Israel, Koch has criticized Obama several times in the past four years, even as recent as last month Now, the Obama campaign can make the point that even Koch, 87, is convinced by Obama’s record on Israel.

Republicans, on the other side, have their own catch to be pride of. Her name is Bryna Franklin and she is the former chair of the Israeli branch of Democrats Abroad. In a TV and Internet ad, Franklin voices claims regarding Obama’s relationship with Israel and his economic policies and stresses that most Americans voting in Israel will support Romney.

“Forget that you voted for Democrats since you were knee high to a grasshopper,” she urges Jewish voters.

Beyond the latest campaign ads, both sides are still working hard on the trail, trying to reach as many Jewish voters as possible in swing states. Republican Jewish Coalition leaders Matt Brooks, Ari Fleischer and Norm Coleman are still on the road hitting major Jewish communities and Democrats have their own Jack Lew speaking today to Jewish voters in Ohio.


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