The Romney campaign and its allies on the Jewish right have been mounting a campaign in recent weeks to try to peel off a small but significant segment of the Jewish voting population in swing states and deliver it to Mitt Romney. But even those carrying out this strategy acknowledge it’s a long shot.
The latest effort, prompted by Romney’s visit to Israel, is a new ad in Florida by the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel, attacking Obama for not declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel as Romney did last week.
“President Obama is embarrassed to visit Israel,” the narrator says in the ad. “Mitt Romney is proud to visit.” The ad then shows footage of Romney, in Jerusalem, declaring the city Israel’s capital.
Noah Pollack, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel (which also counts Bill Kristol as its chairman), is the first to admit that ads like this are unlikely to make a big difference — or maybe any difference at all. In an interview on PBS’s News Hour earlier this week, before the ad was announced, Pollack was skeptical that Romney’s embrace of Israel would win over Jewish voters.
Pollack contends, as does his group’s ad, that Romney’s visit to Israel “revealed some real contrasts between what a President Romney would do and how the Obama administration has dealt with Israel over the past few years.”
But on the subject of how the trip would go over with Jewish voters in the U.S. — presumably one of the main targets of the trip — Pollack felt Republicans might be getting ahead of themselves.
“This is something that I think Republicans always chase after and I think it’s something they shouldn’t worry too much about,” Pollack said. “I think Jewish voters, like all voters, make their voting decisions on the basis of a wide range of issues. I think probably Jewish voters pay more attention to Israel than others do. And probably there is a lot more complaints among Jewish voters about Obama’s record on this. And it could be influential in a state like Florida.”
But Pollack doesn’t put much stock in this theory.
“You could imagine a scenario in which Florida came down to a closeness like it did in 2000, in the year 2000, when, you know, it was decided by a few hundred or a few thousand votes, and that, you know, you could imagine after the election people parsing all the numbers and determining that Obama’s decline in support among the Jewish vote cost him Florida, which cost him the election.”
Then he added, “But that’s probably not going to happen.”
He now seems to have decided it’s worth a try anyway.
In addition to Emergency Committee for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition in July launched a campaign to win over Jewish voters in swing states, backed by millions in donations from billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Their campaign, the New York Times reported, uses “testimonials from people who say they regret supporting Mr. Obama because of his economic policies and his posture toward Israel.”
The new Florida ad, arriving on the same day President Obama will campaign in Orlando, is going up in the Miami, Palm Beach and Orlando media markets, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The ad will air “hundreds of times in the coming days in Florida,” their website says.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.