A Jewish supporter of President Donald Trump listens because the president addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on April 6, 2019. | Erik Kabik Pictures/Media Punch/IPX
The Republican Jewish Coalition outlined the plans at its spring assembly at one among Sheldon Adelson’s casinos.
LAS VEGAS — Republicans are planning a multimillion-dollar offensive aimed toward fracturing the Democratic Get together’s decades-long stranglehold on the Jewish vote.
Spearheading the push is the Republican Jewish Coalition, which receives substantial funding from on line casino mogul and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. On Friday morning, the group’s board members — lots of them outstanding Republican Get together donors — gathered in a convention room at Adelson’s Venetian resort, the place they have been briefed on plans for a $10 million-plus blitz geared towards attracting Jewish assist for President Donald Trump. The funding, individuals aware of the early discussions say, will far surpass what the group has spent in previous presidential elections.
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With Democrats embroiled in a wrenching inner debate over anti-Semitism and assist for Israel, Republicans are transferring to capitalize with an aggressive marketing campaign portray Trump — who himself has at occasions confronted accusations of stoking anti-Semitism — as a fierce and unapologetic defender of the Jewish state.
“We’re on the intersection of a really distinctive second in time the place we’ve essentially the most pro-Israel president ever in historical past in Donald Trump, and we additionally on the similar time have the Democratic Get together— due to the strain of the progressive left— transferring away from the normal assist for Israel that has existed going again to 1948,” mentioned Matt Brooks, who has served as RJC government director for practically three a long time.
“This pressure inside the Democratic Get together is making these centrist and center-left Jews who care about these points really feel increasingly more uncomfortable, and with the power of Donald Trump and the Republican Get together on these points we imagine that we’ll be capable of convey these people over to the Republican aspect,” Brooks added.
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At a time when Trump’s approval ranking stays mired within the low-to-mid 40s, the offensive reveals how Republicans are taking steps to contest any votes they will. Jews solely account for about 2 % of the U.S. inhabitants and have overwhelmingly supported Democrats in previous elections. However GOP officers imagine that siphoning off even a small portion the Jewish vote in a number of battleground states could possibly be crucial in 2020.
“The Jewish vote will stay and largely loyal Democratic vote due to home points largely, but when there was ever a cycle the place Republicans might make inroads it’s this cycle,” mentioned Ari Fleischer, a former George W. Bush White Home press secretary who now serves as an RJC board member. “In the event you settle for that there are sizeable Jewish populations in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, [and] Michigan, the Jewish vote – if we will make further inroads – will be very useful in placing you excessive. The White Home is aware of that.”
The administration goes all-in on the technique. On Saturday, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and three White Home officers — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and Avi Berkowitz — all made pilgrimages to the Venetian, the place RJC members have been gathered for the third day of their annual spring convention. Earlier than a sea of supporters waving “We’re Jews for Trump” indicators, the president accused Democrats of opposing Israel and “advancing by far essentially the most excessive, anti-Semitic agenda in historical past.”
Previous to taking the stage, Trump met privately with Adelson and his spouse, Miriam, who collectively gave over $120 million to Republican causes through the 2018 midterms. The 85-year-old Adelson, who’s been present process most cancers therapy, hadn’t been anticipated to be in attendance. However these near the billionaire mentioned he was intent on making the Trump rally, and when he entered the auditorium on a motorized scooter and carrying a pink “Make America Nice Once more” hat, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
Democrats are deeply skeptical that the GOP will achieve making inroads with Jews. Since 1992, in keeping with exit polling information, the Jewish vote has remained remarkably steady, with Democrats successful between 69 % and 79 % in every presidential election.
Halie Soifer, the manager director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, mentioned that current polling her group had carried out confirmed that Jews remained assured within the Democratic Get together’s posture on Israel and that they overwhelmingly disagreed with Trump on an array of home points. And, she identified, Republicans had lengthy vowed to make features with Jewish voters solely to fall quick.
“This isn’t new. We’ve seen completely different iterations of this in earlier elections both in midterm or presidential elections, and every time it’s sort of repackaged with a special narrative in an try by Republicans to chip away on the Jewish vote — and each time it fails,” Soifer mentioned. “And whereas the repackaging would possibly make it seem like there are completely different causes behind it — and positively we’re in a barely completely different political context right now than we’ve been prior to now — the consequence is similar.”
However the Las Vegas foray was the newest in an ongoing White Home effort to succeed in out to the Jewish neighborhood. In some cases, the administration has even made overtures to those that have lengthy aligned themselves with the Democratic Get together.
Kushner, the administration’s level particular person on the Center East, has been in contact with Haim Saban, a pro-Israel mega-donor who in 2016 gave over $6 million to a brilliant PAC backing Hillary Clinton for president.
In an interview, Saban mentioned that Kushner had by no means pressed him who he deliberate to assist in 2020 and that their conversations largely surrounded Israel. Whereas the billionaire media government mentioned he remained a Democrat, he supplied a be aware of warning at a time when some high-profile figures in his occasion are questioning the long-standing coverage of unflinching assist for the Jewish State.
“I sincerely hope the [presidential] nominee continues the normal Democratic Get together [policy] because it pertains to the U.S.-Israel alliance,” Saban mentioned.
To some Republicans, highlighting points surrounding Israel and anti-Semitism goes past merely interesting to the Jewish vote. Amongst these making the rounds on the Venetian this week was Dan Conston, who, because the president of American Motion Community and Congressional Management Fund, the primary pro-Home GOP outdoors teams, has been arguing to main donors that portraying Democrats as unwilling to confront anti-Semitic forces of their occasion will assist to spice up Republicans with the suburban voters who deserted them in 2018.
Forward of this week’s convention, the group launched digital commercials tying swing-district Home Democrats to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has come beneath fireplace for utilizing tropes broadly seen as anti-Semitic. Whereas some senior Democrats have rebuked Omar, she has retained her seat on the Home Overseas Affairs Committee.
“It is appalling that Democrats have stood by and tolerated brazenly anti-Semitic commentary from their very own members,” Conston mentioned. “If Democrats proceed to face by and do nothing, we expect suburban voters throughout America will discover it equally appalling subsequent election.”
That Jewish Republicans have emerged as outspoken champions of Trump’s reelection bid represents one thing of a turnabout. The RJC was torn over the president through the tumultuous opening days of his tenure, and broke with Trump over his dealing with of the violence in Charlottesville, when he equated white supremacists with counter-protesters.
But many key Jewish Republicans at the moment are firmly within the president’s nook. That features Fred Zeidman, a longtime GOP giver who chairs a New York Metropolis-based funding banking agency. Zeidman, who backed Jeb Bush within the 2016 GOP main, initially harbored issues about Trump’s place on Israel and was rankled by the White Home’s failure to say Jews in its January 2017 assertion on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
However Zeidman, who met with Trump early in his White Home tenure to debate Israel, mentioned he now not had any doubts about Trump. The president, he mentioned, had been “incomparable” by way of “how good he’s been to Israel.”
Zeidman, who helped to supervise Jewish outreach on the George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns, recalled a current dialog with Houston oilman Harold Hamm. Through the Bush years, Zeidman instructed Hamm, he had a T-shirt quoting the late Israeli chief Shimon Peres as saying that “George W. Bush is the best president Israel has ever had.”
“I had,” Zeidman instructed the billionaire oilman, “to tear up my T-shirt.”
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