September 20th, 2011
06:43 PM ET
Yesterday CNN was first to report that the Obama campaign had scheduled a conference call for this afternoon with members of the Jewish community where it would lay out the president’s record in support of Israel. Organizers of the call explained that it was not scheduled in reaction to recent bad press regarding the president’s stance on Israel, but rather planned long in advance in attempt to arm supporters with detailed information about the president’s record in advance of the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – and the political dinner discussions that often accompany them.
Well, the call has just wrapped up after roughly 40 minutes and one of the leaders of the call, former-Congressman Robert Wexler – a chief surrogate for President Obama amongst Jewish voters during the 2008 election – offered CNN a few observations about how it played out.
Wexler, who served seven terms in congress before leaving in 2010 to take over as president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, said that today’s call is just the “first step of an aggressive effort to lay out President Obama’s record on Israel.” But he was careful to place the entire discussion in a broader context.
“Most Americans – Jewish Americans included – are focused on the economy,” Wexler said, later adding that, “to divorce this discussion from President Obama’s views on Social Security and Medicare and the views of the Republican nominee on those issues is useless.”
On whether increased attacks by the president’s opponents on current U.S. policy towards Israel – see page A12 in yesterday’s New York Times – signal a perceived weakness in President Obama’s record on the issue, Wexler pointed to the campaign season.
“Our opponents are being aggressive, but we too are being aggressive and we’re not taking any vote for granted,” he said.
In 2008, Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote, and many GOP strategists believe that if the Republican nominee can decrease that number by just a few percentage points, that could have a real impact in swing states with sizable Jewish populations like Florida, Ohio and even Pennsylvania.
When asked if the president was vulnerable of losing Jewish votes, Wexler said, “I’m confident that the president will win the votes of the vast majority of Jewish Americans. Whether it’s 75 percent or 76 percent or 78 percent, I don’t know.” But he contended that the final number will likely depend more on how Jewish voters’ feel about the economy, not Israel.
CNN Wires has some more info on this. Their story can be found here.