Liveblog: iVoteIsrael.com press event #iVoteRJCI am at a press conference that is being held by iVoteIsrael.com and our internet connections just went up. I will cut and paste what I noted before, and then liveblog. Matt Brooks, the Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition is currently speaking.
Judah Solomont presents poll results.
163,395 eligible voters in Israel
40% NY, NJ and Cal 7-8% each
Pa and Ill just over 5%, Md. Just under.
Estimate 30K voted in 2008.
30% McCain, 15% Obama.
Over 50% say they’re likely to vote (data from March 2012).
45% feel have same responsibility as other Americans (this is all on web site)
66% vote on Israel
35% have broad issues, 21% Iran.
Reservations – 25% feel it’s not right to vote.
Republicans 2-1 in vote before they knew Romney was candidate but 27% undecided.
Congress about equal – slight advantage to Republicans.
63% of those who voted for Obama will vote for him again.
Iran by far most important external issue 53.8%
Fox, CNN, other and none all ahead of JPost as source visited.
Close elections – Florida was 537 voted in 2000.
Who can vote? Any US citizen whether or not you’ve ever lived in US. If you’ve never lived in the US, you can vote based on parents’ last residence. 22 states allow you to vote even if you never lived there. Even if you’re not one of those states, you should still register to vote. These 22 officially answered that they will accept it.
There’s a new law that you need to re-register every single year. It’s not that you have to re-register – it’s that you have to request an absentee ballot.
Gideon Ariel says that they had only a few register in Maaleh Adumim in 2008, but there have been hundreds this year.
Matt Brooks Chairman of RJC
Ari Fleischer Former Press Secretary to GWB
Matt Brooks reports that their flight was three hours late. This is the first event since they landed. They understand that this is an important election for Israel, and may be the most important election ever, which unfortunately is a label that was given to every election since 2000.
Ari Fleischer says that it's essential to have a President for whom 'I have Israel's back' isn't just a slogan. Social media has changed politics.
Questions should be focused on the upcoming election.
First question is whether Condi Rice is a candidate for Vice President. Ari Fleischer answers that he hated personnel questions when he was at the White House, and he says that only Mitt Romney has to make that decision. The people who are helping him make that decision are quiet. But he doesn't believe that Condi will be the pick - he thinks it will be someone without her background.
11, 16, 19 and 24 are percentage of Jewish vote that went Republican in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. If Republicans get 25% of Jewish vote, they should win. If they get 30% they will win. Most American Jews won't vote for Republicans, because of domestic issues. But when you talk about foreign policy the Republicans make inroads.
Matt Brooks thinks there will be a lot of buyer's remorse among Obama voters (see above regarding percentage of Obama voters in Israel who will still vote Obama). Romney has succeeded in everything he has done. Matt thinks attacks on Romney for Bain are going to backfire.
Barack Obama has a Jewish problem and the Democrats know it. Obama's Jewish numbers are in the high 50's or low 60's.
Yishai Fleischer asks if Romney will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and other issues that are important to Israelis. Ari Fleischer says that we should like 80-85% of Romney's policies and that Romney will talk to Israelis. He said that Bush found that the Israelis had other priorities aside from moving the capital to Jerusalem. Bush eased off on the promise to start the move as a result. Romney is coming here in a couple of weeks and that shows his commitment to Israel. That's an expression of priority. He's coming here - not Mexico or Canada.
Matt Brooks says that RJC brought Romney here in 2007 and compares it to Bush trip here in 1997 where he took the helicopter ride with Ariel Sharon. Nothing substitutes for being in Israel to meet the people. Matt says that Romney's trip here in 2007 stays with him and that he saw the security barrier.
With Bush, the moment was when they went over the border where it was only 8 miles wide. George Bush understood that going back to the '67 borders was untenable. This is the genesis of the 2004 exchange of letters, and the Obama administration has gone in the opposite direction.
In 2007 when Romney met the IDF he said that he would build a wall anywhere it's needed and as high as needs to be built. A Romney administration will be very different than an Obama administration.
Matt Brooks says that Romney will be more Bush-like realism than Obama has been. Romney will not force a peace process - you have to have two willing partners and right now there is no one on the other side. Romney believes that peace has to come around between willing parties based on an end to terror and incitement and with real security for Israel.
In 2007, Netanyahu was Finance Minister and met with Governor Romney and got back together for one of the first time since Boston Consulting Group. They genuinely and respect each other. You won't have an open mic situation like there was between Obama and Sarkozy about Netanyahu. Chemistry is much warmer than it is between Netanyahu and Obama.
Ari Fleischer says that if Obama wins, Israel is going to suffer regardless of how Jews and American Israelis vote. Cites AIPAC Jerusalem 2008, condemnation of Israel's housing policy and open mic incident.
Romney will continue Iron Dome, David's sling etc. He won't do everything the opposite of Obama. The current administration feels that its big positive is security cooperation, intelligence sharing, etc. but the President cut missile defense funding for Israel in 2013 and the Republicans have added that back.
Fleischer adds that military cooperation should be a given and Obama is trying to take credit for a given.
This election in the US is about the economy. Americans are reminded the first Friday of every month how miserable things are.
I asked whether we should read anything into Romney leaving Abu Mazen off the agenda when he comes here and Ari Fleischer compared it to Bush's refusal to meet with Arafat, but he can't go beyond that because he's not a Romney spokesman.
Brian of London (from Israellycool) discusses how Obama raised money in 2008 through an entirely fraudulent system to gather small amounts from everywhere. Says they found money from Gaza. They gave the information to McCain and they weren't interested. Why not? Fleischer thinks that in 2008 America was swept off its feet but today they're more realistic. Brian reports that he has given money to Obama on a British credit card and taken it back IN THIS CYCLE!!!!
Adam Levick (CiF Watch) asks will Romney make anti-Semitism an issue and will a Romney administration crack down on incitement? Ari Fleischer says that neutrality is hostile toward Israel and that the US cannot be neutral. In March, Gallup poll found Republicans 78-21 pro-Israel, while Democrats 53-47 pro-Israel. Democrats almost a neutral party.
Yisrael Medad (My Right Word) asks whether Americans will come visit towns over the green line. He says that with the exception of a few conservative Republicans most are not willing to go - not even Republicans. Matt Brooks says RJC trips do go outside the green line.
A woman from California talks about her more liberal friends who say Obama isn't so bad on Israel, so why shouldn't they vote for him. Ari Fleischer recounts how Obama had to be dragged across the line on sanctions - he didn't want to sanction Iran's Central Bank.
Abe Katzman points out that pro-Israel vote is much larger than Jewish vote and asks how they vote. Fleischer says that if you are Jewish in US it's likely that you focus more on foreign policy and national security while if you vote Democrat, you're probably voting on social issues. Matt Brooks says that the Evangelicals are an incredible ally with astronomical numbers and for them Israel is a central issue. Brooks says that there are videos that target the US Jewish community that talk about Israelis' views of the elections. He says that enfranchising the voters here in Israel would help a lot.
Ari Fleischer says that during the flight delay last night on their flight, they discovered that half the people on the plane seemed to be doctors.
Matt Brooks says leaking of intelligence information on cyberattacks on Iran by the US is unprecedented, and think about the ramifications that has on any US allies. On a project of that caliber, there are no more than 10-12 people who have access to that information, and yet it was exposed by the US. Will other allies trust the US after this? The only people that win because of that are the Iranians.
Ari Fleischer says that 'two state solution' is just a phrase now, and a 'Palestinian state' now would not be a peaceful state. It's Obama policy that Israeli 'settlement freeze' a precondition, and in a second Obama term that would only get worse.