With the red-hot Republican president contest moving to Florida this week, Democrats made a pre-emptive strike to shore up support among Jewish voters, particularly stressing President Obama's support for Israel. Republicans are trying to make Israel a wedge issue among Jewish voters and contributors this year, especially in Florida with its large Jewish population.
In a conference call with the Jewish Week and other reporters from Anglo-Jewish and Israeli media, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) accused Republicans of “lying and distorting” the President’s record on Israel.
They focused primarily on Mitt Romney because he is the front-runner going into the final week before the Jan 31 primary and because they see him as weak and inconsisten on foreign policy. “It is Romney’s to lose,” said Wasserman Shultz.
Both he and Gingrich want to "zero out foreign aid” and make nations like Israel prove they deserve” the aid, Wasserman Shultz charged. “That is not standing with an ally closely and doing the thing we feel is so necessary in providing assistance to Israel.”
She accused Gingrich and Rick Santorum of trying to “inflame the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict” by saying the Palestinians are an “invented” people (Gingrich) and that the West Bank is a part of Israel (Santorum). “They show tremendous ignorance on their part; even the Israeli leadership” called such comments unhelpful, she added.
Regarding Iran, she stressed the tough sanctions and said, "no options are off the table" when it comes to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
Most Jewish voters in Florida, they said, will be focused on domestic issues like Medicare, prescription drug coverage, the interests of children, and that’s where they expect Obama to do very well.
“Republicans know they have no appeal to Jewish voters” on domestic issues, Wasserman Shultz said, so that is why they will focus on Israel. Wexler added, “We believe Israel is a winning issue in Florida with Jewish voters, and we’re going to stress his exceedingly impressive record with Israel.”