A reminder to Connecticut Democrats as they prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday to elect their candidate for Senator.
For all the discussion of Karl Rove’s outreach to church groups in 2004 to
drum up support for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, the Republican party’s
outreach to the Jewish community has generally received short shrift, perhaps
because it was not nearly as successful. Still, especially in Florida and Ohio,
where the electoral votes proved key to the outcome, the GOP sought to portray
Bush as Israel’s best friend and John Kerry as a candidate who allegedly had
not made his support for Israel clear, notwithstanding
his strong record in that regard.
While Jews do not vote as a bloc, and issues such as Social Security and Medicare
register as high concerns with them, support for Israel is an emotional touchstone.
That the GOP faced an uphill battle was reflected in a Miami Herald poll conducted
the week before the election of Jewish voters in Miami-Dade County, which has
one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the state of Florida. The Herald’s
poll found that 82 percent of the Jews who lived in the county planned to vote
for John Kerry. Only 15 percent said they would be voting for Bush.
This, however, must have come as big news to Senator Joseph Lieberman.
from the defeat of his own presidential ambitions, Lieberman, while ostensibly
posing as a surrogate campaigner for John Kerry in Florida during mid-October
2004, towed the GOP line by falsely claiming that Kerry had weakened his support
among Jewish Democrats by failing to speak substantively about Israel during
campaign appearances. Lieberman went so far as to accuse Kerry of “ignoring”
Jewish-American voters, thereby causing them a lot of concern. At the same time,
he praised Bush as a “strong and consistent supporter of Israel.” Lieberman’s
remarks in Florida were reported in The Palm Beach Post on October 14 (paid
archive), and again in The
Jewish Week on October 22, 2004.
While Jews did not significantly affect the outcome of Florida’s vote (Bush
won the state by a popular margin of 380,978 (if you believe the count), Bush
received 20% of the Florida Jewish vote, up from 12% in 2000.
Nevertheless, as Connecticut Democrats prepare to vote in next week’s primary,
it is fair to point out that Lieberman did little to combat Republican attempts
to undermine the confidence of Florida’s Jewish voters in John Kerry’s support