Concerned that efforts to slur Barack Obama as a secret Muslim are having an effect, an organization is encouraging young Jews to travel to Florida to lobby their grandparents on behalf of the Democratic presidential candidate.
"The Great Schlep" will occur over Columbus Day Weekend, Oct. 11-13, in an effort to help tip Florida to the Democratic nominee. It is being organized by a new Jewish political action committee, the Jewish Council for Education and Research.
An Internet video starring Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman, which was viewed about 1 million times in its first day of release, is boosting the effort.
“If Barack Obama doesn’t become the next president of the United States, I’m going to blame the Jews,’’ Silverman says on the video, singling out grandparents in particular. “These are the people who vote in Florida, and the Florida vote can make or break an election.”
But some experts are suggesting the ads might be better targeted toward younger Jews, who are increasingly Orthodox and more conservative. That translates into concern that Obama will not be as friendly to Israel as Republican John McCain.
New data from the American Jewish Committee’s Survey of American Jewish Opinion reveals that 61 percent of the 60-plus set favors Obama, while just 49 percent of those under 40 like the Illinois senator. The survey designers concede that the numbers could be skewed because the group has no breakdown by both religious affiliation and age. In other words, the younger segment could be more heavily Orthodox than the older group, and therefore, more conservative.
“It's clear from any sort of political operative you talk to that the best way to persuade somebody is for them to talk to someone they trust,” said Mik Moore, a co-executive director of the Jewish Council. “Our indications are that these are the best people to make the case. And we've seen a huge amount of interest in doing this.”
Organizers intend to provide travelers with training and materials, and they are hosting a social event Oct. 11. Participants are expected to secure their own funding and accommodations.
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