The Republican Jewish Coalition flew and bused volunteers to campaign yesterday Sunday, September 9 and today Monday, September 10 in three metropolitan areas:
- Philadelphia and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
- South-Eastern Florida, and
- Cleveland, Ohio.
Ron Kampeas reports that this is part of a $6,500,000 microtargeting campaign funded in part by gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (pictured right at the RJC “Friends of Israel” reception at the Republican National Convention).
Ohio (1.3% Jewish) and Florida (3.4% Jewish) are once again battleground states and are being hotly contested by the Romney and Obama campaigns. Pennsylvania (2.3% Jewish) has traditionally been a swing state, but lately it has been considered fairly safe for the Democrats, and accordingly Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers’ Super-PACs “Restore Our Future”, “Crossroads GPS” and “Americans for Prosperity” all announced last week that they were pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan and concentrating their ad buys on more competitive states. We asked the RJC why they were skipping Nevada which is a very competitive state with a 2.8% Jewish population the most of any swing-state other than Florida, but Stu Sandler and Bill Wanger had no comment. (See comment posted below.)
The RJC invited us to observe their outreach effort in work in our area. Local members of the RJC were joined by supporters bused in from Bethesda, Maryland and the New York area. Some volunteers flew in from as far away as California. In all about 400 Republicans were assembled at the Radisson Valley Forge Casino Resort.
During the breakfast, RJC leaders and volunteers were all eager to share the views with us. One deplored a “certain strain of the Jewish community that cares more about the Democratic party than about Israel.” I asked if she was referring to extreme elements of the grassroots or about any particular elected officials, and she cited Rep. Alysson Schwartz as an example saying
Allyson Schwartz will be a Democrat [sic] believer until the day she dies even if they start wearing brown shirts
(a reference to the color of the uniforms of the Strumabteilung which played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power). Other members of the crowd echoed Lynne’s contempt for the Democratic Congresswomen and cited DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Former Rep. Robert Wexler, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro as “traitor to their faith.”
I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms with Lynne Lechter, Republican Committeewoman in Lower Merion and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly (shown right at the National Women’s Committee of the RJC at the Green Valley County Club in 2009). Asked about the Republican platform which echoes Rep. Todd Akin’s support for a blanket ban on abortions without any exception for rape or incest, Ms. Lechter said that to her “platforms are not relevent. People don’t always agree with everything in the platform.” However, she felt that the original Democratic platform “underscored the hatred of Democrats for religion and Israel.”
More after the jump.
The volunteers were assembled into teams some for phone banking, literature drops and strategic sign waving.
- Vans brought the RJC volunteers to various neighborhoods. Media from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, the Jewish Exponent, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the New Jersey Jewish News were taken to an affluent Jewish neighborhood in Gladwynne where we watched as a pair of volunteers left campaign brochures at the front door of each targeted home. They were instructed not to knock or interact with voters, but simply to leave their literature and move on. The RJC began canvassing neighborhoods for the first time during the 2008 election. However, Stu Sandler said this outreach effort is larger and better targeted than their 2008 canvassing.
- Other volunteers were assigned to “strategic sign waving.” For example, a pair of RJC volunteers was stationed outside the Obama for America office at 1 E. Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA waving signs reading “Oy vay, Obama.” (See photo below of a billboard in Southern Florida with a similar message.) OFA Field Director Jediah Grobstein asked them to not block the entrance, but other than that there was little interaction observed between the Democratic and Republican supporters.
- A conference room at the Radisson was devoted to phone banking. The RJC used the same predictive dialing technology which Organizing for America used during the New York special elections of 2009. Volunteer phone bankers could stay on the phone as a computer connected them with one voter after another.
After the day of canvassing, the volunteers were treated to a private discussion with Congressmen Pat Meehan (R-PA7) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA8), and former Republican State Senator Bruce Mark, followed by Sunday Night Football as the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.
Photo of Republican Jewish Coalition billboard in South Florida