hillary30.jpgGood old-fashioned shoe leather reporting by the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) turned up a rare thing for this phase of the presidential race: an entirely new religion and politics story. Hillary Clinton has launched a serious Jewish outreach program in Pennsylvania this week, overseen by longtime top Clinton aide Ann Lewis:

While Obama’s campaign is continuing to attract Jewish support, Clinton is favored by most of the state’s Jewish political and communal heavyweights. Her list of supporters includes Gov. Ed Rendell, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and the president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Leonard Barrack.
Lewis, saying that she personally signs off on all official communication to the Jewish community, insisted the Jewish-targeted e-mail and Internet attacks on Obama focusing on advisers with a critical view of Israel and his pastor are not emanating from campaign headquarters.
And publicly at least, Clinton’s Jewish point people are emphasizing her positive attributes.
“On every issue of importance to us – from the domestic agenda we call tikkun olam [repair of the world] to the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Clinton is “not just supportive, but she is a leader,” Lewis said to both the rabbis and the communal leaders in Philadelphia.
“It’s not just what she says but what she does,” she added.
Lewis cited as specifics her efforts to bring attention to anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Palestinian textbooks and to gain entry for Magen David Adom to the International Red Cross.
Pressed to distinguish Clinton from Obama on specific issues, Lewis cited Iran. She reiterated Clinton’s position that she would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.
Noting that Clinton sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lewis said the candidate is “for diplomacy and engagement, but it has to be smart.”
Lewis chided Obama’s statement that he would sit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his first year in office.
“You don’t give away a meeting with the president of the United States” without first requiring a change in behavior, she said.
As they launched their statewide outreach effort, which includes at least eight more events in the next two weeks, Clinton’s backers scoffed at the notion that Clinton should drop out early…


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