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four years on the line

Binyamin rose, tampa,florida

last week republicans managed to close ranks behind their candidate, mitt romney, at a hurricane-shortened three-day convention in hot and steamytampa,florida. The campaign has yet to reach a boiling point, but once the democrats wrap up their convention this week in charlotte,north carolina, the 2012 presidential election campaign will begin in earnest. It looms as one of the most contentious and perhaps critical presidential races of our times.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

journalists generally dish out the questions, but when i arrived in the lobby at thetampa sheraton riverwalk hotel to pick up my official press credentials to cover the republican national convention, i found myself on the receiving end of a bombshell of a question. It came from a dapper and distinguished-looking gentleman, who greeted me with a hearty “shalom,” and proceeded to ask, “is there a jewish holiday coming up that coincides with the new moon around september 15, called the festival of the trumpets?”

Even with a kippah on my head, i quickly donned my thinking cap, and understood him to be referring to rosh hashanah. I briefly explained the significance of the “trumpet” we blow on the jewish new year, but it soon became apparent my interlocutor, patrick leduc, whose business card declares him to be “an able, abiding, aggressive attorney” had an ulterior motive.

“wouldisraelattackiranon a jewish holiday?” Mr. Leduc asked.

Hmmm.

Without belaboring the point, i diplomatically opined that while the israeli government normally does not consider the letter of jewish law in making its decisions, there’s a concept of pikuach nefesh. It would be an interesting debate, i explained, whether the term pikuach nefesh could be applied to an offensive military action.

Mr. Leduc, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the us army reserve, had no such reservations.

“september’s new moon would be the perfect time forisraelto launch an attack,” he enthused. “the skies will be darker, and it’s long enough before the us elections that it wouldn’t overshadow the campaign. October would be too late.”

October may or may not be too late for israel, but election day — tuesday november 6 — is the date that looms large for republican mitt romney, who accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency at last week’s convention, and president barack obama, who is seeking a second term in the white house.

Romney entered the convention with many questions marks hovering over him. He managed to erase some of the doubts and blur the distinctions on others during a convention shortened from four days to three by hurricane isaac — which skipped past tampa on its way to wreaking havoc in new orleans, but not before dumping a couple of inches of rain on tampa’s flat, brick-lined streets.

Where did romney score points, and where might he have fallen short? And what would a romney administration mean for jews inamericaandisrael?

A quick look at four takeaways from the convention may give some insights into the man who stands close to an even chance, according to the latest polls, of becoming america’s 45th president.

 

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