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Swinging For the Fences

Binyamin Rose

Israel is not an American state and it doesn’t have any electoral votes to boast of. But with the 2012 presidential race looking like a cliffhanger, President Bush’s former press secretary and the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition traveled toIsraelto make voter registration in the Jewish state a priority cause.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

meetingWith the latest 2012 presidential polls showing a tightening race between incumbent president Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, it is becoming more evident by the day that every vote will count — especially the Jewish vote.

According to the Ettinger Report, published by Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli ambassador to theUS, Bush’s razor-thin victory in 2000 was determined by less than 1,000 Jewish voters inFlorida. The outcome of the 2012 presidential election could be resolved by the Jewish vote in three of the top seven electoral states,Florida,Pennsylvania, andOhio. WhenUScitizens cast absentee ballots fromIsrael, or any other country outside of theUS, the votes are tallied along with the totals of the last state in which they resided. 

With Jewish dissatisfaction with President Obama running at stubbornly high levels, President Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer, along with Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) executive director Matt Brooks, traveled toIsraelto launch the RJC’s inaugural voter registration drive, absentee ballot program, and advocacy initiative.

The Republican Jewish Coalition is a Washington-based grassroots organization with 38,000 members in 46 chapters across theUnited States. Fleischer and Brooks joined forces with a voter registration group called iVoteIsrael, as well as AgudathIsraelofAmerica.

There are several other voter registration groups campaigning hard inIsrael, including Democrats Abroad-Israel and the Overseas Vote Foundation.

The Agudah and iVoteIsraelare officially nonpartisan, but Brooks and Fleischer are GOP adherents.

“There is a large swath of people who voted for Obama in 2008 and have buyer’s remorse,” said Brooks. “The focus of our efforts now is not only to make sure Romney’s base stays energized but also to peel away those disaffected Democrats and independents. That’s where the real battleground is in 2012.”

While the Romney campaign sleeps soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that a large majority of the ultra-Orthodox vote is in Romney’s hip pocket, it is their geographic distribution that keeps GOP officials up at night.

“I always say about the Orthodox, I wish there were more of them, and I wish more lived inFloridainstead ofNew York,” said Brooks.

 

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