Hillary Reaches Out to Jewish Voters in Florida

All eyes are on Florida. Sunshine State voters are about to play a big role in picking each party’s nominee on Tuesday. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is expected to win by a comfortable margin and pick up as many delegates as possible to solidify her lead over Senator Bernie Sanders.

Clinton enjoys a few key advantages, including strong backing from Jewish community leaders and Jewish Democrats, in the first contest where Jewish voters could determine an election. According to a recent study, 12 percent of Jewish Americans reside in Florida.

In 2008, Clinton won Florida’s Jewish voters 2-to-1 over [President] Barack Obama.

In the last few weeks, and over the weekend, Clinton’s Jewish outreach team has organized phone banks, house parties, canvasses and voter registration drives, according to a person with knowledge of the campaign’s activities.

On Sunday, Congressman Steve Israel joined a conversation with FAU Jewish Student Union and Hillel members at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton to shore up support for the former Secretary of State. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) participated in a conference call with Jewish Women for Hillary, and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) held a conference call with hundreds of rabbis and Jewish community leaders on Monday.

“My expectation is that Hillary will win by a very large margin,” Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL22), who was campaigning for Hillary over the past few weeks, told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Sunday. “She’s very well known here in Florida. We have many New Yorkers that know her, who are here either in the winter or they’ve moved here and knew her as senator. She’s very admired.”

A Quinnipiac poll released on Monday showed Hillary with a 60–34 percentage point lead over Sanders.

According to Rep. Deutch, Clinton’s decades-long record on Israel and relationship with the Jewish community going back to the time she served as First Lady in the state of Arkansas, is what gives her the upper hand over her rival Bernie Sanders, who’s Jewish, among Jewish voters in Florida. “This is a long relationship that the community has had to know Secretary Clinton,” Deutch told Jewish Insider. “They know where she stands on these issues, and that’s why I’m confident she is going to do so well in the Jewish community.”

Frankel echoed this sentiment. “For people who are concerned about foreign affairs, there’s no question that Hillary comes with the experience that surpasses anybody – Democrat or Republican – running,” she told Jewish Insider. “But even on domestic issues, I don’t think people here really know Bernie Sanders that well.”

Sanders, who made history in New Hampshire by being the first Jewish candidate in American history to win a presidential primary, has been largely absent in southern Florida’s Miami, Palm Beach and Boca Raton counties – areas with high Jewish residential density.

Last month, former President Bill Clinton met with over hundred Jewish community leaders, rabbis, elected officials, and supporters in Palm Beach. “President Clinton and Hillary Clinton have always had a deep connection to the Jewish community – and Hillary Clinton has made clear that continuing to strengthen this partnership will be a top priority of her presidency,” the Hillary for America campaign said in a readout of the closed-press event.

Clinton is expected to address AIPAC’s Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

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