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Friday, May 20, 2011

Maybe he can borrow some money from China

Even before President Obama decided to slam Israel on Thursday night, he was in trouble with Jewish donors to his re-election campaign.
It is difficult to assess how widespread the complaints are. Many Jews support Mr. Obama's approach to the Middle East, and his domestic agenda. But Jewish fund-raisers for Mr. Obama say they regularly hear discontent among some supporters.

The Obama campaign has asked Penny Pritzker, Mr. Obama's 2008 national finance chairwoman, to talk with Jewish leaders about their concerns, Ms. Pritzker said. So far, she said, she's met with about a half dozen people. She said the campaign is in the process of assembling a larger team for similar outreach.

"I do think there's an education job to be done, because there's lots of myths that abound and misunderstandings of the administration's record," she said. "The campaign is aggressively getting the information out there."

Robert Copeland, a Virginia Beach, Va., developer, who has given large donations to many Democrats, has already decided he won't vote for Mr. Obama in 2012. "I'm very disappointed with him," he said. "His administration has failed in Israel. They degraded the Israeli people."

An Obama campaign spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr. Messina's conversations with donors, but said the campaign would reach out to Jewish donors and expected strong support. She also directed questions to Ken Solomon, an Obama fund-raiser and CEO of the Tennis Channel, who said any problems were minimal and that most Jewish voters were concerned about many issues, not just Israel.

Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he saw potential for the discontent to affect Mr. Obama's fund raising.

"It's that people hold back, people don't have the enthusiasm and are not rushing forward at fund-raisers to be supportive,'' he said. "Much more what you'll see is holding back now."

Mr. Adler says he does not doubt Mr. Obama's commitment to Israel but thinks the White House needs to do a better job communicating its support.

Three opportunities come in the next four days: On Thursday, Mr. Obama gives a speech about U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa, and on Friday he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Sunday, Mr. Obama addresses the largest pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee.
Well, he's blown one of those opportunities already and prospects don't look so good for the second one later on Friday. Maybe he can just get the Chinese to lend him some money instead.


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