Haim Saban, a staunch supporter of both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, urged the former Secretary of State distance herself from the president on Israel out of concern that Marco Rubio – seen at the time as a favorite to emerge as the Republican nominee – would get a greater share of the Jewish vote in battleground states, newly released emails show.
“She needs to differentiate herself from Obama on Israel,” Saban said in an email to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta on June 20, 2015, according to emails released by Wikileaks on Tuesday. “It can easily be done w/o criticizing the President,and this so that she can recapture the 11% lost between 2012 and 1992.”
“Let’s not allow them to [steal] the Jewish vote from us,” the Democratic megadonor implored, forwarding an excerpt from Jewish Insider‘s Daily Kickoff about Rubio’s Jewish outreach. “If I am president, this country will do whatever it takes to help the people of Israel survive and prosper as a Jewish state,” Rubio was quoted as saying at the Faith and Freedom conference.
“This is NOT a NY or California issue. It is a Florida one,” Saban wrote.
Saban advised team Hillary to have the candidate “speak strongly” against anti-Semitism and the BDS movement, and “reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.” He further suggested the campaign should do research and address issues that the American Jewish community “is sensitive to.”
The advice was taken seriously by the Clinton campaign. On July 2, the candidate penned a letter to Saban and Jewish organization leaders expressing her strong and unequivocal support of Israel and the need “to make countering BDS a priority” to “fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”
Politico also reported at the time that Clinton was privately signaling to wealthy Jewish donors that she will be a better friend to Israel than President Barack Obama. At a Manhattan fundraiser in the last week of June, Clinton defended Obama against accusations that he had weakened relations with Israel, but vowed to strengthen these relations if elected President. “Diplomacy is all about personal relationships, and I’ve got my own relationships,” she was quoted as saying.
Marco Rubio didn’t end up becoming the Republican presidential nominee, and a recent poll showed Clinton leading Donald Trump by 43 points among Jewish voters in Florida.