NPR logo

Eyeing Jewish Vote In U.S., Romney Goes To Israel

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Eyeing Jewish Vote In U.S., Romney Goes To Israel


Eyeing Jewish Vote In U.S., Romney Goes To Israel

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. Mitt Romney flies to Israel tomorrow for the second leg of his overseas tour. He'll meet with top Israeli officials as well as the Palestinian prime minister. And as Sheera Frenkel reports, Romney will use the visit to appeal to Jewish voters back home.

SHEERA FRENKEL, BYLINE: Just days before Romney was scheduled to land in Israel, a Republican group in the United States announced a new series of ads. One ad features an American Jewish voter named Michael Goldstein. He talks about voting for Barack Obama in 2008, but now regrets the president's policies on Israel among other issues. The ad concludes with Goldstein saying he's about to change his vote.


MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN: I am a lifelong Democrat. I've never voted for a Republican for president, but this time I'm going to vote for a Republican for president.

FRENKEL: Heavily funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and created by the Republican Jewish Coalition, the ad is part of a series called my buyer's remorse. Its creators say they're airing real grievances by Jewish Americans, especially when it comes to President Obama's stance on Israel.

KORY BARDASH: There's a tremendous amount of buyer's remorse within a certain segment of the Jewish community that voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

FRENKEL: That's Kory Bardash. He's co-chairman of Republicans Abroad in Israel. He repeatedly cites what he calls the icy relationship between the Israeli prime minister and President Obama.

BARDASH: A number of our supporters and a number of our membership has been enhanced by those people who were very strong supporters in 2008 who are crossing party lines in 2012.

FRENKEL: The ad campaign is just one of several steps being taken by Republicans to woo the Jewish vote this election season. At the heart of their campaign is the Republican Party's support of Israel, something they hope will be further strengthened by Romney's trip this weekend. Republicans Abroad in Israel co-chairman Marc Zell says it sends a clear message that Romney included Israel in this foreign campaign trip.

MARK ZELL: The fact that he chose Israel tells something about the importance that Israel has as an ally of the United States.

FRENKEL: In Israel, officials are preparing to welcome Romney with open arms. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly touted his decades-long friendship with Romney. This morning, Israeli newspapers, including the Adelson-owned Israel Hayom, carried glowing interviews with Romney. Adelson is a major campaign contributor to Republican causes. But he's also well known in Israel as a supporter of Netanyahu and several right-wing groups.

Sources close to Adelson tell NPR he will attend a fund-raiser the Romney campaign is holding in Jerusalem. Still, not everyone thinks that Romney's trip to Israel will generate the kind of support his team hopes for. David Brinn, the managing editor of The Jerusalem Post newspaper, says that Israel doesn't rank high on the list of issues for American voters.

DAVID BRINN: I think most Americans are not voting with Israel in mind at all, even most Jewish Americans.

FRENKEL: In the last U.S. election, 78 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Obama while 21 percent voted for Republican candidate John McCain according to exit polls. Pollster Jim Gerstein says that current polls show a slight lessening of support for President Obama, though he maintains that Jewish Americans are deeply entrenched in the Democratic Party. He cited Gallup and Pew polls that found that Israel didn't rank in the top 10 of issues for voters on election day.

Brinn also says Israel's importance for American voters is being blown out of proportion.

BRINN: It is a little surprising that Romney is coming here on his sole foreign trip. I would think that Israel's not such a major factor in the elections.

FRENKEL: President Obama, meanwhile, is not taking Jewish support for granted. Earlier today he was photographed in the Oval office signing the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. The law will significantly expand cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, and it's already made headlines in the local press, prompting one Hebrew editorial in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper to announce that Obama would not lose out on any of the Jewish vote without a fight.

For NPR News, I'm Sheera Frenkel.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.