Americans in Israel overwhelmingly support Romney
While Jewish Americans poll heavily toward the Democratic Party — President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 — Americans living in Israel skew just as heavily toward the Republican Party.
Romney 'convinced' that London ready
Looking to move past his withering debut in the British media, Mitt Romney appeared on NBC's "Today" show Friday and insisted he was "absolutely convinced" Londoners were ready for the Olympic Games. Romney had created a firestorm by telling NBC's Brian Williams that initial reports about security and labor problems were "disconcerting." While his criticism was mild (and tempered with praise for the imaginative organizing of the London Games), the voracious British media pounced, ultimately leading Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson to weigh in with more than a touch of annoyance.
— Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM — Even before Mitt Romney arrives in Israel, he has friends here.
During a recent series of debates pitting representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties against each other, the audience cheered as heartily for the Republican Party representative as it booed mentions of President Obama.
"The crowd was predominantly Republican, which is natural for Anglos in Israel," said David Brinn, a moderator at one of the debates and managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, using the Israeli term for English speakers.
While Jewish Americans poll heavily toward the Democratic Party — Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 — Americans living in Israel skew just as heavily toward the Republican Party.
That base of support is preparing a warm welcome for Romney, who arrives in Israel on Saturday night on the second leg of a three-country campaign trip abroad. His first stop was London; his last will be in Warsaw, Poland.
"Everyone here is very excited about his visit," said Marc Zell, co-chair of Republicans Abroad in Israel. "When it comes to protecting American interests and the interests of the Israeli people and of the Jewish people, the Republican Party has been a stalwart and loyal friend to Israel and the Jewish people for the past several administrations. That is something we want to bring home to the Jewish voters of the United States."
Romney's campaign hopes his visit will help register some of the 150,000 eligible U.S. citizens in Israel to vote, particularly if they cast absentee ballots in swing states.
His organization also hopes placing a focus on Republican support of Israel will pull in crucial votes in swing states with high Jewish populations, such as Florida. During Romney's visit, he will highlight his close, decades-long friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his strong support of Israel's stand against Iran's nuclear program.
But translating the support of Americans living in Israel to Jewish Americans in the United States has proved elusive for Republican campaigners.
In the United States this week, the Republican Jewish Coalition launched a $6.5 million ad campaign in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania titled "My Buyer's Remorse." The ad featured Jewish Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 but who will be voting Republican in the upcoming elections.
The campaign, largely funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is supported by a website and other outreach efforts.
"I think it will speak to many Jewish-American voters because it highlights the doubts we have about Obama," said John Gallagher, 27, an American student visiting Israel from New York this week. He said that, as a regular visitor to Israel and a strong supporter of Israeli causes, he believes his vote would be better placed with Romney than Obama. "Maybe some of my friends who don't think about Israel as much don't think the same way."
According to Democratic pollster Jim Gerstein, few voters place Israel as high on their list of issues as Gallagher. Citing Gallup and Pew polls, Gerstein said Israel didn't rank in the top 10 of issues voters considered on Election Day — even among Jewish voters. He argued that all signs pointed to a Jewish-American voting base that was strongly entrenched in the Democratic Party.
"Even with the slight lessening of support for Obama, and we are talking about a couple of points, I don't see it making a real difference," Gerstein said.