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Sen. John McCain - 2008 U.S. Presidential Candidate

"I’m proudly pro-Israel..."

"...a 20-year demonstrated history of unequivocal support for the State of Israel"

"...McCain can do the pro-Israel speech in his sleep"

A collection of articles from the Jewish and Israeli Press


In this section we reproduce articles mainly from the Jewish and Israeli Press, quoting mr. McCain and the Jews´ opinions on him. As the material is quite massive, underlines to some key paragraphs and quotes have been added by Radio Islam. If we have deleted some section of text from the original (due to not being sufficiently interesting), this is indicated by: [...] .  

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12/14/2007
McCain names Broxmeyer top Jewish adviser

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named the chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs as the top Jewish adviser to his presidential campaign.

Mark Broxmeyer, already a top fund-raiser for the McCain campaign, will serve as the chair of McCain's Jewish Advisory Committee, a campaign statement said.

Broxmeyer, a New York property developer, is national chairman for JINSA, a group that promotes close Israel-U.S. security ties and that has been one of the most consistent supporters of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Broxmeyer has taken the lead in promoting JINSA's exchange program for Israeli and U.S. law enforcement officials.


The Jerusalem Post, Jan 31, 2008
Giuliani's Jewish backers will now back McCain
article originally from JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Most of Rudy Giuliani's Jewish backers will now back John McCain, McCain's top fund-raiser said.

Fred Zeidman, a top lawyer and lobbyist with offices in Washington, told JTA that the former New York mayor's fund-raisers, among them prominent Republican Jews, were coming over in droves to the Arizona senator's campaign for the Republican presidential campaign.

"My phone and Blackberry were going off constantly," Zeidman said, after it became clear that Giuliani was coming in a distant third in the Florida primary on Tuesday. - Israel News, 02.01.08
US Jews in Clinton's pocket?
By Yitzhak Benhorin

Jews to move their support from Giuliani to McCain

According to estimates, Florida's Republican Jews voted for Giuliani and are now expected to move their support – along with Giuliani himself – to Senator McCain.

McCain is the most prominent candidate ready for a military confrontation with Iran over its nuclear problem and has stated that the only thing worse than a military move against Tehran is a nuclear Iran.

McCain's foreign policy team includes hawkish and neoconservative members like David Frum, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, Norman Podhoretz and Martin Kramer.

One of his main fund raiser, if not the most important, is Fred Zeidman of Houston, who also helped raise funds for US President George W. Bush. Zeidman is the chairman of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington.


The Jewish Daily Forward, Jan 26, 2007
Hillary the Favorite in Race for Jewish Donations - Biden, Obama Expected to Make Some Inroads
By E.J. Kessler

The leadership of the Republican Jewish Coalition — a key group of fundraisers who have raised millions for GOP causes — is splitting its support in the 2008 presidential race.

RJC board member Fred Zeidman, a Houston venture capitalist and lobbyist who’s close to Bush, will be raising money for Senator John McCain.

“I think [McCain’s] an outstanding patriot and American and will make an excellent president,” Zeidman told the Forward on Sunday. “He has a 20-year demonstrated record of support for Israel. Our community couldn’t be in better hands.”

Also helping McCain is RJC board member Ned Siegel, who was tapped to head McCain’s finance team in Florida.


The Jewish Press, Exclusive article, May 17, 2006
McCain: 'Proudly Pro-Israel' - Says Haaretz Article Left 'Serious Misimpressions'
By Jason Maoz, Senior Editor

In statements to The Jewish Press this week, Arizona Senator John McCain reacted sharply to an article earlier this month in the Israeli daily Haaretz that he said left "several serious misimpressions" regarding his views on Israel and the Middle East.

As reported in the Media Monitor column in last week’s Jewish Press, the May 1 Haaretz article portrayed McCain, the early front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, as someone who, if elected president, would "micromanage" a more even-handed Mideast policy than that of President Bush; envisioned "concessions and sacrifices by both sides"; and expected Israel to eventually retreat, with some modifications, to pre-Six Day War borders.

A source in McCain’s office characterized the Haaretz interview as a brief, impromptu session and the resulting article as long on the reporter’s suppositions and short on concrete quotes from McCain.

"You’ll note," said the source, "that the article featured perhaps one complete sentence from the senator; otherwise the report is basically the reporter’s narrative interspersed with several fragmentary quotes" from McCain.

The senator himself was clearly miffed at his portrayal in Haaretz, saying that "after reading the Haaretz article and subsequent report in The Jewish Press," he felt the need to "clear up several serious misimpressions."

McCain said that "in contrast to the impression left by the Haaretz article, I’ve never held the position that Israel should return to 1967 lines, and that is not my position today."

The senator further maintained that "in the course of that brief, off-the-cuff conversation, I never discussed settlement blocs, a total withdrawal, or anything of the sort."

Final settlement lines, McCain added, "depend on the decisions of the Israeli government and its interlocutor on the Palestinian side." The problem, he continued, is that "at the moment there simply is no Palestinian interlocutor, as it is impossible to negotiate with people calling for one’s destruction."

And that, McCain said, is where he believes "the confusion about the article comes in. The questioner asked a few hypothetical questions about some time in the indeterminate future – but that future will never arrive so long as Israel lacks a partner for peace. Talk of concessions on either side or of negotiators is premature so long as Hamas remains dedicated to the use of violence and the extinction of Israel."

McCain sounded a pessimistic note on the viability of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at least in the short term. "There can be no comprehensive peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians until the Palestinians recognize Israel, forswear forever the use of violence, recognize their previous agreements, and reform their internal institutions," he said.

"Unfortunately, with the election of Hamas, this process has taken a huge step backward, and it’s simply impossible to push today for a comprehensive accord."

McCain’s remarks reflect a long-standing commitment to Israeli security and a skepticism about the readiness of Palestinians to coexist with Israel. It is precisely his outspokenness in defense of Israel and strong pro-Israel voting record that had observers scratching their heads over the Haaretz article.

"That just didn’t sound like the John McCain everyone in Washington knows," said a political consultant who’s worked with both Democrats and Republicans and who requested anonymity because he doesn’t know who, if anyone, he might sign on with in 2008. "If there’s anyone who doesn’t buy into the State Department, striped-pants view of the Middle East, it’s McCain."

The McCain that both supporters and opponents have come to know, said the consultant, is the McCain who in June 2001 told a special AIPAC seminar that "America’s unequivocal support for Israel – not evenhandedness, not moral equivalence, not winking at Palestinian violence – is the best guarantor of peace in the Middle East."

AIPAC spokesperson Jennifer Cannata told The Jewish Press that McCain "has a strong record on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship. The senator consistently supports U.S. foreign aid to Israel and is a cosponsor of bills currently under consideration in the Senate that impose sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program and isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority."

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, characterized McCain’s record on Israel-related issues as "excellent."

"McCain has identified with many Jewish causes," said Hoenlein, who noted that the Presidents Conference will be hosting McCain in a few weeks. "He’s definitely a staunch supporter of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship."

McCain was unequivocal in his remarks to The Jewish Press.

"I’m proudly pro-Israel, and my positions have been consistent and clear," he said. "Israel, as one of America’s closest allies and the only democracy in a dangerous neighborhood, deserves our support and assistance. That’s why I view with such alarm the victory of Hamas and the Iranian president’s vile comments about wiping Israel off the map."


New Jersey Jewish News, February 14, 2008
Jewish Dems eye McCain challenge
By Robert Wiener, NJJN Staff Writer

Although Hillary Clinton firmly led rival Barack Obama in local Jewish voting on Super Tuesday, his successes over the weekend and his outpolling her in other states with significant Jewish populations created a murky situation.

And with John McCain emerging as the presumptive GOP nominee, the talk has turned to whether the Arizona senator’s good standing in the Jewish community could steer votes to the Republicans.

Jewish voters, who made up nine percent of New Jersey’s Democratic electorate on Super Tuesday, supported Clinton over Obama, 63 percent to 37. She also outperformed Obama among Jewish voters in New York, 66 percent to 30.

But even as she carried California, revised numbers placed Obama’s Jewish support ahead of hers by two percentage points, 49 to 47. In Massachusetts, the Illinois senator outpolled Clinton among Jewish voters, 52 percent to 48, and in Connecticut, the margin was much wider — with 61 percent of Jewish voters backing Obama, and 38 percent for Clinton.

With the weekend came more setbacks to the Clinton campaign. Obama sweept four states and one territory — Maine, Washington, Louisiana, Nebraska, and the Virgin Islands — on Saturday and Sunday.

Exit pollsters said the percentages of Jewish voters in those areas were too low to be included as a category in their questionnaires.

Reacting to the Middle Atlantic results after Super Tuesday, Robert Bildner, a Montclair resident and member of Clinton’s national Jewish outreach committee, said her campaign “has to build on the support she has gotten from Jewish voters throughout the country. Certainly, the Jewish community is very comfortable with Hillary’s positions on the social issues we care about and on her support for Israel. That’s not a dig towards Obama. Many Jewish voters are quite comfortable with Obama.”

As she celebrated her birthday the day after the primary, one of Obama’s most active Jewish supporters in New Jersey said she was “disappointed” that Clinton carried the state, 54 percent to 44.

“I had hoped for an Obama win as a present,” said State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37) from her office in Teaneck. “But I’ll survive.”

Weinberg ascribed Clinton’s broader Jewish support in New Jersey to “a lot of white women who happen to be Jewish. I think it was a big gender thing. This was a very gender-based vote, which I completely understand. Older women have been waiting all their lives to see a woman be nominated for president.”

Although the state senator believes “Obama is the better candidate, I can cheerfully support either of them come November.”

Still, political pollsters who have studied New Jersey’s electorate suggest that some NJ Jews who normally vote Democratic might cross party lines to support Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is all but certain to become the Republican nominee.

“There is that possibility,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

Jewish voters might feel McCain would be a closer friend to Israel, although Mrs. Clinton has not given any indication she is other than a very strong supporter,” said Richards. “The Jews are substantially against the war in Iraq, but they are also divided because of the whole Middle East situation. To the extent that the war impinges on the situation in Israel, their thoughts are somewhat divided. Over the past several decades, the Jewish vote has been less monolithic as a result.”

But while Jewish support for George W. Bush in 2004 did not rise above 25 percent, Obama supporter Weinberg agreed that McCain presents a new challenge to Democrats.

“In every poll I’ve read, Obama runs better than Clinton against McCain,” said Weinberg. “But whoever is the nominee, John McCain is very popular in the Jewish community. The Jewish community could and did feel comfortable with both Democratic candidates. Having said all that, is there a large support for McCain? Yes.”

Joe and John?

Pollster Richards also pointed to the support McCain has gotten from Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Democrat turned independent, and even speculation of a McCain-Lieberman ticket.

“The Lieberman idea is a fascinating one. I think there are good reasons for McCain to take a good look at Lieberman as a running mate,” said Richards. “It would obviously be a strong appeal to Jewish voters, but in numbers, the Jews are not a very significant block to begin with.”


Reuters, January 17th, 2008
Lieberman courts Florida Jewish votes for McCain
By Simon Evans

AVENTURA, Fla. - Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman took his campaign to drum up support for Republican John McCain on Thursday to a Florida Jewish deli partly owned by an Egyptian-born Muslim.

For Lieberman, a Jewish senator from Connecticut who describes himself as an “independent Democrat,” Mo’s Bagels, which serves up Jewish classics like cream cheese and lox but is named after co-owner Hussin Mohamed, was a fitting venue for a politician willing to disregard political labels.

Lieberman, Al Gore’s running mate against George W. Bush in 2000, crossed party lines to back McCain, who is battling former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and others in a Jan. 29 Republican presidential contest in Florida, the fourth most populous U.S. state.

“Being a Jewish deli, we didn’t think calling it Mohamed’s Bagels and Deli would work so well, so we called it Mo’s,” quipped co-owner Paul Kruss, himself a Venezuelan-born Jew and a McCain supporter.

“I happen to be a registered Republican but I am one of those in the mushy middle, like most Americans fairly independent, I believe in certain principles and values.”

Lieberman chatted with customers in Mo’s, located in Aventura, north of Miami, where many Jews live.

“Florida is going to be very important to the nomination. If John can win South Carolina, which I think he will, and then he wins Florida he will have a clear path to the nomination,” Lieberman told reporters while sipping from a mug of coffee.


The Jewish Daily Forward, January 5, 2007
McCain Lines Up Jewish Money Men For His Campaign
By Jennifer Siegel
(brackets [ ] below added in original article)

Arizona Senator John McCain has scored an early victory in the battle between GOP presidential frontrunners by locking up support from several New York-area Republican moneymen also coveted by his northeastern rival, former Big Apple mayor Rudy Giuliani.

McCain’s stable of national finance co-chairs includes Lewis Eisenberg, a multimillionaire financier from Rumson, N.J. who previously served as finance chairman for the Republican National Committee and was a key fundraiser for former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.

According to a 140-page memo leaked to the New York Daily News and published earlier this week, Eisenberg’s name — along with that of fellow Jewish financier and McCain supporter Henry Kravis — was originally included on a “prospective leadership” list drafted by the Giuliani campaign.

The disclosure of the former mayor’s campaign plan — which acknowledges the concern that Giuliani might “drop out of [the] race” due to potentially “insurmountable” personal and political vulnerabilities — has underscored his scramble for some of the same deep-pocketed donors recruited by McCain.

The New York-area Republicans are “moderate in their approach to things — they are not big radical ideologues [so] who are these guys going to go to? Either they go to Giuliani or they go to McCain,” said David Twersky, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Congress. Twersky, a longtime observer of Garden State affairs and former editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, added, “This is a very good sign for McCain, that he is getting Republican establishment moderates.”

A year before the GOP’s presidential primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, the party’s field of contenders is still taking shape: McCain and Giuliani are the first two candidates to have officially established presidential exploratory committees — which allow them to raise and spend money in pursuit of the 2008 nomination — while outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was expected this week to file his papers. Other Republican hopefuls include Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter of California.

A spokesperson for Giuliani, Sunny Mindel, declined to comment on this week’s memo leak, which she described to the Daily News as “suspicious activity.” According to the newspaper’s report, the document was passed on by a source sympathetic to one of Giuliani’s opponents. It was allegedly left behind during one of the former mayor’s campaign trips last fall.

The incident is not the first time in recent weeks that the Giuliani camp has seemed to come up short against McCain: Hours before the former mayor’s first major New York fundraiser, held last month on December 19, the senator’s team released a 57-member New York-area finance committee list — the campaign’s only announcement of regional supporters thus far.

McCain’s heavily Jewish finance committee includes Kravis; Mark Broxmeyer, a Long Island real estate magnate; Dr. Ben Chouake, president of the New Jersey-based pro-Israel political action committee Norpac, and Barbara Sobel, whose husband, entrepreneur Clifford Sobel, is a major GOP fundraiser who was appointed by President Bush as ambassador to the Netherlands and later Brazil.

According to Chouake, members of the New York-area finance committee have pledged to raise a minimum of $50,000 each. He said that he personally had approached the campaign with an offer of support, based on his concern about the situation in the Middle East. “The 800-pound gorilla in the room right now is Iran,” Chouake told the Forward. “You have the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who represents the first country in the world to openly state, ‘We intend to get nuclear weapons, and we intend to commit genocide.’ This is an immense threat to the United States, and this is an immense threat to Israel. So who are you going to support?… For me, the person that is the most capable, most experienced, most courageous to defend our country, would be John McCain.”

For years, McCain, who has been calling for more American troops to be sent to Iraq, has developed strong ties with neoconservatives in Washington, sharing their hawkish voices on several key fronts.

In recent weeks, McCain has been signaling that an attention to Jewish issues will remain on his agenda as his campaign moves forward.

On the staffing front, the Arizona senator has recruited Jay Zeidman — former White House liaison to the Jewish community — to help with finance and fundraising operations as well as with Jewish outreach. Zeidman’s father is Houston Republican Fred Zeidman, who is chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and one of Bush’s closest donors. According to two Republican sources, the senior Zeidman has not ruled out throwing his weight behind Romney.

“I think a lot of the smart money is going to go Mitt’s way, because they feel that Giuliani is unelectable and McCain is going to have some type of problem — he’ll stumble, [or] his age [will be an issue]… and people don’t trust him ideologically,” one Republican operative said.

In a December 10 address at Yeshiva University, McCain said that withdrawing American troops from Iraq precipitously “is to risk catastrophe,” leading to the possibility of a failed state in a strategic region. He also defended America’s larger strategy of promoting democracy in the Middle East. Two days later, the senator traveled to Israel as part of weeklong trip to the region that also included stops in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While in the Jewish state, McCain’s delegation — which also included Senators Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Mark Kirk and Joseph Lieberman — met with a number of political leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

While insisting that the heavy representation of Jews among McCain boosters is not based on a “religious thing,” exploratory committee spokesman Craig Goldman embraced the suggestion that the list reflects well on the senator’s campaign.

“We are honored and thrilled” to have their support, Goldman said, adding that McCain “is by far [the] frontrunner for the president of the United States. They believe in his message, they believe in what he says and what he believes in, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a strong supporter of Israel, as well.”


Jewish World Review, June 13, 1999
McCain, Jewish frontrunner?
By Marlene Adler Marks

NO MATTER WHAT YOU’VE HEARD about the inevitability of George W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate closest to the heart of the Jewish community is, at least for the moment, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

McCain, the self-described Reagan Republican, would run a familiar old-fashioned campaign full of warm-fuzzies, at least where the pro-Israel group is concerned; high on foreign policy and national defense, low on divisive domestic affairs. George W., of course, famously lacking in specifics, is a great unknown. The Bush campaign is one-part Clinton revulsion; one-part demographic savvy and one part the blessings of early money yielding momentum. The anti-abortion Republican is running ahead of Al Gore with women! It’s a dazzling effort that, even if not ultimately successful, may redefine the political landscape.

We’re only at the beginning of the story. The Texas governor whipped through California before July 4 on a three-day fund-raising tour ($36 million to date). This week, I couldn’t find a single Los Angeles Jewish Republican who would commit to being committed to Bush; but none that would say publicly they were against him, either.

Despite Bush’s meeting with Hollywood types at the home of producer Terry Semel and the Century Plaza dinner guest-hosted by Jerry Weintraub, even the Bush team back in Austin was unsure what progress had been made with the likes of Sherry Lansing or among the pro-Israel crowd.

But even non-committal is good news, a show that George W has a distinct identity from his less-than-adored father, where Jews and Israel are concerned.

Perhaps Jewish support can wait. Karl Rove, Bush strategist, says that Victory 2000 depends upon Catholics, Latinos and the suburban vote. The Catholics are the most interesting part of the formulation, a bet that middle of the road Catholics, long ignored as a special interest group, are fed up with having the “religious terrain” of their party captured by a fringe right wing. But this means that the “swing vote” status, once focused on Jews, whether the Orthodox or fiscally liberatarian segments, may now be ignored.

Unless, that is, “suburban” is a euphemism for Jewish Calabasas. The Bush 2000 website has a Spanish counterpart but does not mention Israel.

Anyway, he may get to the Jewish community other ways. On Wednesday, Austin’s Michael Dell, of Dell Computers, signed on to chair the Bush hi-tech advisory council. It’s hard to deny the sense of an emerging juggernaut.

It’s still a year from the convention. Anything can happen.

“The media doesn’t like a coronation, they like competition,” white-haired, energetic John McCain was saying hopefully. At the Beverly Hills home of Rosalie Rubaum (active in Israel Bonds) Tuesday night, on the first three days in L.A., interest in McCain was high. The 80 appreciative Jewish Republicans brought together by former Pete Wilson advisor Rosalie Zalis were probably more than twice the number dispersed among the 2500 at the Century Plaza Bush event.

McCain can do the pro-Israel speech in his sleep. There were enough references to Saddam Hussein and the need for a new ballistic missile system to remind you what Reagan Republicanism meant and that he was a career military man to boot.

Israel was mentioned so often, with all the right references to the only democracy in the middle east, that the Q&A focused on the looming threat of Russia and the challenge of Social Security. It was the old time religion, amiable, sincere and well-received.


The Jewish Journal, 2008-02-01
Candidate profle: John McCain - McCain's Jewish support spans the political spectrum
By Beth Young

John McCain's reputation as a maverick holds true in the Jewish world, where his list of allies spans the political spectrum.

His long-term support for Israel and human rights issues along with his willingness to cross party lines has won him allies among conservative Republicans, independent Democrats and even some liberal Jews.

Topping his list of Jewish supporters is U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the independent Democrat who made headlines by endorsing the presidential bid of his Republican colleague from Arizona.

A U.S. senator from Arizona since 1986, McCain developed a reputation for breaking with his Republican colleagues. Most famously he joined with Russ Feingold, a Jewish Democrat from Wisconsin, in passing the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act in 2002.

In a recent poll of American Jewish opinion, McCain ranked behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the second-favored Republican. He scored a 32 percent favorability rating among Jews in general and 49 percent among Republicans, according to the American Jewish Committee survey.

Lieberman's backing of McCain has led to mutterings among political insiders over the possibility of a McCain-Lieberman ticket in the general election. It would be Lieberman's second bid for the vice presidency; he was the first Jew on a viable ticket when Al Gore picked him as a running mate in 2000.

Both McCain and Lieberman support the Bush administration's position on the Iraq war and have taken a hard-line approach to Iran.

"I think it's helped McCain a lot," Ben Chouake, president of the pro-Israel Norpac and a member of McCain's finance committee, told JTA in December, referring to Lieberman's endorsement.

But McCain has drawn support from staunch Republican and politically conservative Jews as well.

Among them is Mark Broxmeyer, the national chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Last month McCain named Broxmeyer, a New York property developer, the chairman of his Jewish advisory committee.

JINSA has been among the most consistent supporters of the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

McCain at times also has drawn Jewish support -- if not political backing -- from left-wing Jews. The U.S. branch of Rabbis for Human Rights met with McCain to support his 2005 amendment to a defense appropriations bill that prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including those at Guantanamo Bay, and also narrowly defined acceptable interrogation practices.

He endured 5 1/2 years of torture at the hands of the Viet Cong after the Navy bomber he was flying was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. McCain remained in the Navy until 1981, when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

McCain repeatedly has cited Israel's 1999 ban on torture in refuting claims that it is a helpful tool in combating terrorism.

His relationship with Bush has changed over the years. Bush and McCain sparred fiercely in the 2000 presidential campaign, and the senator toyed with a vice presidency offer from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate in 2004.

That marginalized McCain among some party faithfuls, leading McCain to initially tamp down his criticisms of Bush in this campaign.

Recently, however, he reversed that policy, including a few barbs in his speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates' forum in October -- all the more notable because the RJC is a redoubt of Bush loyalists.

Noting reports of the success of the surge of ground troops in Iraq, McCain reminded the RJC crowd that his was a lonely voice advocating additional troops in 2004.

"I was criticized by Republicans because of my disloyalty," he said.

McCain also said he did not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin's role in contributing to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"I looked into Putin's eyes and I saw three letters � a K, a G and a B," he said, referring to Putin's earlier career as a spy. Bush had famously said that he looked into Putin's eyes and saw a good soul.

The crowd ignored the barbs; almost every questioner started by saluting McCain's military service.

Fred Zeidman, a Texas venture capitalist and political fund-raiser, has long been a McCain ally and is also very close to Bush. Zeidman agreed that McCain was earning respect in the party as his policies appeared to be vindicated.

"He has been steadfast in his beliefs and his opinions, but there has been a shift in the administration toward things McCain has been supportive of all along," Zeidman said.

According to campaign contribution reports, McCain has raised $35,900 from individual board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition, surpassed only by Giuliani's $58,750.

McCain drew criticism last fall after he told that he would prefer to vote for a candidate who shared his Christian religious views. Republican Jewish leaders said McCain's offhand remarks needed to be put in the context of his longstanding support for the Jewish people.

"While members of the Republican Jewish Coalition would not have expressed themselves in the manner Sen. McCain did, a full reading of the entire interview shows Sen. McCain unequivocally reaffirming the separation of church and state and recognizing the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was founded," the coalition said in a statement.

McCain's biggest credential may be the longevity of his career, Zeidman said.

"John McCain is the only candidate that has a 20-year demonstrated history of unequivocal support for the State of Israel," he said. "I think it's fascinating to watch the world evolve back toward John McCain. To see him back in the front of this race is a credit to the citizens of this country."



Israeli newspaper Ha´aretz, 23/09/2008
Rabbis support Obama, and McCain too
By Shlomo Shamir

The American Jewish community and analysts following presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama's campaigns do not remember such direct or extensive involvement of rabbis in the political arena.

Veteran reporters remember that a group of rabbis once publicly supported candidate Ronald Reagan, and a few rabbis issued a statement backing Bill Clinton. But the strong presence of rabbis on the front line of spectators in the current campaign is seen as an exciting novelty. The group of 300 rabbis who recently came out in support of Obama has grown to 430, the petition's organizers say. Others are signing on rabbis to a soon-to-be released statement backing Republican candidate McCain.


But the significance of rabbis' intervention in politics is that while Jewish organizations in America are declining, rabbis' influence in the community has been increasing in recent years


The Jerusalem Post, Feb 6, 2008
Washington Watch: John McCain and the Jewish vote
By Douglas Bloomfield

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has come down to the Big Dough vs. the Big Mo. Mitt Romney may have the money but Sen. John McCain probably has the momentum. And the votes. Especially among Jewish Republicans.

McCain is the clear favorite of Jewish Republicans now that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has dropped out. And he has the L-factor - not the liberal label Romney tries to stick on him, but Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat turned independent who has been an effective campaigner and fundraiser among Jews.

Match that with McCain's 25-year pro-Israel voting record and you have the Republican with the best chance of returning his party to the Reagan-era level of at least 30 percent of Jewish voters pulling the GOP lever. In the last five presidential elections it has ranged from 9 to 24 percent.

While Jewish Democrats have good reason to be worried about McCain, they also have strong ammunition to muster against him.

Whereas McCain and Lieberman are in lockstep in their support for the Iraq war and hardline toward Iranian nuclear ambitions, most Jewish voters strongly oppose the Iraq war and don't want one with Iran.

Lieberman has said he and McCain are cool to the Bush administration's Mideast peace initiative, although polls indicate most American Jews would like to see a more activist American approach.

Democrats can be counted upon to remind voters that McCain has said we could be in Iraq for another hundred years, while they want to start bringing home the troops in the first hundred days of the next presidency.

Even more upsetting to many Jews will be his promise to use Bush Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito as his models for appointing "strict interpretation" judges to federal bench.

With the judiciary already tilting toward the far Right, that could have a dramatic impact on a range of issues most Jewish voters care about, including church-state separation, abortion and civil liberties.

MCCAIN, UNLIKE recent Republican nominees, appeals to Jewish voters on issues that have earned him the enmity of his party's conservative base - immigration reform, campaign finance reform, stem cell research, climate control and torture.

Those issues and his reputation for candor have identified him as a maverick and obscured his otherwise staunchly conservative record, which he has stressed in appearances before the party faithful. Once he locks up the nomination, that record will prove an inviting target for Democratic strategists - particularly Jewish Democrats.

Conservatives may have no problem with his positions on the 3-G's - guns, gays and God - but most Jews will. He's against gun control, opposes same sex marriage and has said "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." Another critical factor will be who the Democrats nominate. The hardcore Right may intensely dislike McCain but they harbor an irrational, visceral hatred for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Republican leaders expect - and some Democratic leaders fear - her candidacy could unite the GOP behind McCain.

If Sen. Barak Obama is the Democratic standard bearer look for right-wing Jews to step up their hate campaign against him and efforts to brand him the Muslim Manchurian candidate.

After the disastrous experience with Dick Cheney, voters are likely to take the vice presidential selection a lot more seriously this year. In addition, if he wins, McCain would, at 72, be the oldest man ever elected president. He brushes off criticism of his age by trotting out his 95-year-old mother, but his grandfather and father, both Navy admirals, died at 61 and 70, respectively.

McCain may pick former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, 19 years his junior, whose greatest strength and McCain's greatest weakness is among Bible Belt conservatives. Picking Huckabee could give McCain a major boost on the religious Right but could cost him dearly among Jews, especially moderate swing voters.

The former Baptist preacher, who has said he does not believe in evolution and would like to change the Constitution to reflect God's law, has been running interference for McCain on the campaign trail by siphoning off conservative votes from Romney.

Giuliani has been mentioned as a possible running mate, but as a thrice-married supporter of abortion and gay rights who spent over $49 million and managed to get only one delegate, he has little appeal to social or fiscal conservatives.

Lieberman, who was the Democrats' 2000 vice presidential nominee, is not interested - been there done that, he said. Besides, his domestic-social voting record is far too liberal for the GOP.

McCain worries Jewish Democrats, and with good reason, but they also have strong weapons in their arsenal as they fight a highly conservative Republican whose "maverick" image appears more flimsy by the day.


The writer is a veteran political analyst based in Washington.


New Jersey Jewish News, February 14, 2008
GOP activist sees McCain doing well among Jews
By Robert Wiener, NJJN Staff Writer

Three days after Super Tuesday, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, braced for a challenge: how to lure Jewish Democrats into supporting his party’s presumptive nominee, John McCain.

We feel there is a strong compelling case as to why John McCain is better than either one of the Democratic candidates on the issues and the policy differences that Jewish voters care most about,” he told NJ Jewish News.

Brooks declined to say whether McCain would be more attractive to Jewish voters than either former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is now out of the race, or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who is far behind the Arizona senator in delegate strength.

But he hailed McCain as “somebody with a long record of friendship and support in critical issues and somebody who is going to resonate well across the spectrum of the Jewish community.”

Bolstering that hope with a press release, the RJC sent out an excerpt of McCain’s Feb. 7 speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee, attacking both of his potential Democratic rivals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for their policies on Iran.

McCain said neither Democrat would “recognize and seriously address the threat posed by an Iran with nuclear ambitions to our ally, Israel, and the region. I intend to make unmistakably clear to Iran we will not permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State of Israel as its fondest wish….

In another part of that address, the Arizona senator was interrupted by booing when he referred to illegal immigration, reminding his audience that he sought a Senate compromise on the issue over the intense opposition of his party’s core activists.

Brooks believes the heckling from the Right helped McCain score points among Jews.

“To a number of people in the Jewish community, the fact that he was not carried off as the conquering hero of the right-wing conservative convention in DC certainly doesn’t hurt him with Jewish voters,” said the RJC leader.

Brooks dismissed McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and his strong support for continuing the war in Iraq — two positions highly unpopular to many Jewish voters.

“George Bush increased his share of the Jewish vote from 19 percent to 26 or 27 percent from 2000 to 2004 being pro-life and supportive of the war in Iraq,” Brooks said.

He said McCain needed to make Jews “feel comfortable about voting Republican. Joe Lieberman has embraced and endorsed the candidacy of John McCain, and that sends a powerful signal. People like safety in numbers. People like to feel comfortable with knowing they are not out there all alone in the Republican Party.”

He called the notion of Lieberman as McCain’s running mate “an attractive theoretical ticket. But the reality of that coming about is very remote. I think it is far more likely that Lieberman will have a major role in a cabinet position such as secretary of defense or secretary of state. Lieberman will be an incredibly important surrogate in the Jewish community.”

But Democrats have their own strategy for dampening McCain’s appeal in the Jewish community.

On Jan. 8, a day after the senator won the New Hampshire Republican primary, the National Jewish Democratic Council sent out a press release, citing a McCain quote that “a candidate’s Christian faith is an important characteristic for a president.”

The NJDC release said McCain “would prefer a Christian president” and cited his quote that “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation…”

The NJDC also attacked the senator’s “far-right voting record” on issues involving civil liberties and minority rights. The release noted that McCain’s campaign’s general cochairman, former Texas congressman Tom Loeffler, was a paid lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government.

His rivals’ attacks notwithstanding, Brooks said he believes McCain will be able to attract moderate Jewish voters, even as he caters to unhappy right-wing Republicans view him as not conservative enough.

“Part of McCain’s job is making sure that conservatives turn out and don’t stay home,” said Brooks. “Except for the fringe, the fact that he will be running against Clinton or Obama will be enough to motivate the conservative base. They may hold their nose. He may not be their ideal candidate. But all he has got to do is make sure they turn out.”


The Jewish Daily Forward, Oct 16, 2008
McCain and Obama Camps Woo Ohio’s Undecided Jews - Buckeye State Is ‘Center of the Political Universe’
By Brett Lieberman

Beachwood, Ohio — With independent polls showing Ohio to be a tossup in the presidential race, the state’s large number of undecided Jewish voters are considered critical by both sides to winning the White House.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain and their surrogates have been intensely wooing the Buckeye state’s Jewish voters, located largely in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs, as well as in Columbus and Cincinnati.

They are being inundated with ads in a Jewish newspaper in Cleveland and visits by prominent Jewish leaders who aim to persuade wavering voters with personal anecdotes and talk of Middle East policy decisions. The campaigns hope these visits will create a personal connection that will last until voters cast their ballots.

From a vote standpoint, the Jewish vote really matters,” said Matt Ratner, the Jewish outreach coordinator the Ohio Democratic Party hired for the election, at a forum for Obama near Beachwood.

Ratner estimated that 100,000 Ohio voters could still be persuaded, just three weeks before the November 4 election, and as many as 30,000 of those undecided voters may be Jewish.

“We represent 1% of the population of Ohio and we could make up as much as one-third of the margin,” Ratner said.

That would make the estimated 700 Jews attending the October 12 Obama event at the Landerhaven banquet hall “the center of the political universe,” as Ohio’s lieutenant governor, Lee Fisher, told them, hoping to convey their potential for once again deciding the election.

The mostly middle-aged and older crowd sat and listened politely to the speeches during the 90-minute forum. The crowd’s silence was interrupted periodically with bursts of heavy applause, like when Rep. Jane Harman of California reminded them that Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, supported abortion rights.

Alan Solow, a Chicago attorney and friend of Obama shared stories about the candidate’s understanding of Israel and Jewish values. “I like to say he’s going to be the first Jewish president of the United States,” Solow said, to hearty laughter.

In 2004, George W. Bush won Ohio by just 118,000 votes of the 5.6 million cast in the state that year. This year, Ohio, with its 20 electoral votes, is seen as a must win by McCain to have a chance of moving into the White House. A victory here by Obama would almost guarantee him the presidency.

If the Cleveland area Jewish population is a major focus of the campaigns, then the heart of the Jewish community in the neighborhoods of Beachwood, Mayfield Heights and Solon, a booming Jewish suburb to the east, is ground zero. One doesn’t have to go far in these few miles from the popular Corky & Lenny’s deli to the nearby JCC and nearby synagogues to find the election a popular topic of discussion.

“Everyone’s talking about it, and everybody has an opinion,” said Earl Stein, the deli’s co-owner.

Jews in Ohio cite as their top concerns the economy, the Iraq war, Iran, Israel’s security and social justice. Ohio is home to an estimated 144,000 Jews, but it was unknown how many of them are registered voters.

On the same day as the Landerhaven rally, the large Jewish population in Columbus was also receiving its share of attention from both camps. Former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross attended a rally in Columbus for Obama before attending a campaign event in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was stumping for McCain in Columbus.

One example of how this battle has manifested itself is the air war. The non-partisan Wisconsin Advertising Project estimates the two sides spent $3.9 million — more than in any other state — on television commercials during the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. The campaigns also have large staffs on the ground and the candidates have visited Ohio so frequently that Fisher joked that McCain and Obama could buy homes there.

The fact that so many Jewish voters, traditionally a bloc that favors Democratic candidates nationally and in Ohio, remain undecided illustrates the opportunity that both campaigns have to sway voters in the Jewish community, which appears extremely divided based on interviews with voters, rabbis and other community leaders.

Jewish leaders in the state predict Obama will garner a majority of Jewish votes. Gains by McCain with Jewish voters in urban and suburban areas would put less pressure on him to draw heavily in rural parts of the state that traditionally vote Republican.

With that in mind, both campaigns are pulling out all the stops to reassure Jewish voters that McCain and Obama can be counted on to be good friends of Israel, and to address lingering concerns among some voters. Those worries include fears that Obama will put pressure on Israel to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians or may be unwilling to pull the trigger on Iran, as well as the unease many Jews voiced about McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

A look at how the campaigns are deploying their resources in Ohio—as well as two other battleground states, Pennsylvania and Florida—shows just how important they consider these states. For example, Ratner’s job didn’t exist four years ago, and Obama’s top national Jewish coordinator, Dan Shapiro, plans to practically take up residence in Ohio until Election Day.

“Those three are the three swing states with the largest Jewish population that really has the most likely chance of affecting the outcome,” Shapiro said.

About the same time as the Landerhaven rally, Lieberman was speaking to about 200 McCain volunteers at a nearby campaign call center. He also met with dozens of area Jewish leaders the next morning. “I think he pulls a great deal of weight,” Josh Mandel, a Jewish Republican and state representative said after the breakfast.

This fight for Jewish votes has at times become a pitched and bitter battle. Fueled in part by competing ads from the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council, some individuals in the community have taken out their own ads in the Cleveland Jewish News to rebut charges and advocate for their candidate.

“The only thing I have not run into is people who don’t care,” said Stephen Hoffman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

Negative messages, particularly those by RJC and other McCain surrogates, have hurt the Republican’s campaign message among Jewish voters, said Rabbi Richard A. Block, who used his Rosh Hashanah sermon at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood to complain about the “coarsening and poisoning of our public discourse.”

Until recently, many Jews in the Cleveland area said they sensed a possible shift in some Jewish voters that would favor McCain. But McCain’s selection of Palin as his running mate and the nation’s financial crisis may be turning the tide in the other direction.

Rabbi Melvin Granatstein of the Green Road Synagogue, one of the region’s largest Orthodox shuls, said of the financial crisis now gripping the entire country: “I have to believe it changed some minds.”



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