Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is on an Israel visit to pledge strong ties between the USA and Israel. Meanwhile, the Republican strategists back home are going to launch an aggressive campaign to woo the American Jewish voters. Mitt Romney has scheduled personal meetings with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, president Shimon Peres, and defense minister Ehud Barak on Sunday.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has raised $6.5 million for placing adverts and conducting campaigns in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. Most of the money has been funded by casino king Sheldon Adelson. Mitt Romney wants to attract the Jews who backed Obama in the last election, by showing them that they made a mistake in the previous election.
Obama’s policies on Israel have been weak, therefore, most of the Evangelical Christians and Jews are dissatisfied with his policies towards the Middle East. Mitt Romney attacked Obama during his speech in Nevada last week, “People of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.”
Despite all his efforts, Mitt Romney has a tough road ahead. According to a Gallup poll last week, Mitt Romney has the backing of only 25% Jewish voters, as compared to 68% supporting Obama. In the last presidential election, Obama had received 78% Jewish votes. Romney’s tour may not pull all the Jews to the Republican camp, but he is trying hard to narrow down the gap. No one expects the GOP to win the Jewish vote. Jews have voted for Democrats since 1920. However, a few percentage point difference could tip the scales in Florida. If Ohio and Pennsylvania are close, Jewish votes there could also be a decisive factor.
Strategists in the Obama camp are not relaxed either. In a clever move, President Obama signed the US-Israel Enhanced Security Co-operation Act, which aims to strengthen ties between the US and Israel, right before Romney landed on the Israeli soil. “I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen co-operation with Israel across a whole spectrum of security issues,” Obama said. Obama is also facing pressure for his handling of the situation Iran, Egypt and other countries; which pose a national security threat to Israel.
Grabbing a piece of Jewish vote bank won’t probably make a big difference, because only 3-4% of the total American electorate are Jewish voters. However, in Florida there are over 500,000 Jews. If the race is close the few votes could make all the difference. Additionally, in Israel alone, there are between 50,000 and 100,000 Jewish voters.
Most Jews care about the economy first with Israel low down on the list of priorities. However, with the sluggish economy and serious threats to a country with half the World’s Jewish population, Romney could win the largest percentage of the Jewish vote for the GOP since Ronald Reagan.