Presidential hopefuls court Jewish vote

Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:36 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Nearly all of the major Republican candidates seeking the party's U.S. presidential nomination will address the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington.

Major Jewish groups have signaled to President Obama he can't count on their unquestioned support for his 2012 re-election bid, and Republican candidates hope to tap into that angst to garner support in a key voting bloc, The Hill reported.

Only U.S. Rep. Ron Paul declined to speak before the coalition Wednesday.

Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks said Jews were gravitating more toward Republican candidates on both foreign-policy and economic issues. Also, American Jews have become concerned about Obama's commitment to Israel, given his overtures to the Arab world and remarks critical of Israel.

"You'll see some very strong, clear, unequivocal contrast between the vision of Republicans running and the current president as it relates to Israel, a turbulent Middle East and pushing back on the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons," Brooks told The Hill.

Democrats counter Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have praised Obama and signaled there is no distance the two countries.

"Republicans keep trying to hide behind smears and untruths because they know they cannot compete with the facts of the president's stellar record on Israel," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement to The Hill. "This president has secured the largest package of foreign aid in Israel's history and has enhanced the country's security time and time again."

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