LONDON â€“ It has become a predictable quadrennial ritual: Republicans claimÂ thisÂ is the presidential election that their pro-IsraelÂ credentials will translate into crucial gains amongÂ Jewish voters.
What actually could make this White House campaign different, the first one in the post-Citizens UnitedÂ era, is just how hard-fought and expensive the battle for what is only three percent of the electorate could ultimately be.
Even though, Republicans havenâ€™t cracked 25 percent of the Jewish vote since 1988, GOP backers of Mitt Romney – who arrives in Israel Saturday – are mounting what will likely be the most aggressive effort yet in dollars and cents to woo one of Ohio and Floridaâ€™s most pivotal constituencies.
And Democrats, alarmed by the drumbeat of news about how much money Jewish casino magnateÂ Sheldon AdelsonÂ is donating to the Republican cause, are responding by forming their own operation to spend millions defending PresidentÂ Barack ObamaÂ on Israel.
nd thatâ€™s just the outside groups.
Even before Romneyâ€™s weekend visit – a trip highlighted by meetings with top officials in Jerusalem and a speech reasserting his commitment to the Jewish state, both aimed at domestic political consumption – Obama sought to disrupt the presumptive GOP nomineeâ€™s carefully-planned courtship.
â€œI have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues,â€ the president said Friday in an Oval Office ceremony convened for him to sign into law a measure expanding U.S. financial aid for Israelâ€™s defense and bolstering cooperation between the militaries of both nations.
What makes GOP officials optimistic this year are the new financial rules of campaigns and perceptions about Obama among some Jews.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has committed to spending over $6 million on an ad campaign that seeks to tap into â€œbuyerâ€™s remorseâ€ among Jews who supported Obama in 2008.
And GOP sources say it ultimately could be significantly more than that thanks to Adelson, whose top concern is the security of Israel and who has told associates that heâ€™s willing to keep tapping into his multi-billion dollar fortune to help Republicans this year. With no caps on how much he can give to outside groups, the Las Vegas gambling tycoon is free to bankroll an unprecedented campaign for the RJC â€“ and any other group he wants to seed.
Further, with concern about a nuclear Iran rising, some of the most Israel-focused Jewish voters, â€œAIPAC Jews,â€ may be looking for a harder-line approach from a White House that has done little to mask its frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
â€œWhat underlies a lot of the angst on the part of the American Jewish community is this administrationâ€™s treatment of Israel,â€ said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. â€œItâ€™s almost unfathomable how the relationship started, with President Obama going to Cairo and speaking toward the Arab world in open and welcoming terms but demanding Israel stop construction in Jerusalem.â€
Some Jewish voters will certainly move to Romney over Israel, just as some older Jews in 2008 were skeptical about a political unknown who had defeated a Clinton and had â€œHusseinâ€ for a middle name. But even then Obama still claimed 78 percent of the Jewish vote.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/79071.html#ixzz21utb3rus
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