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ELECTION WATCH 2016

Bill Clinton brings Hillary’s message to NY meeting of leading rabbis

(JTA) — Former President Bill Clinton met with over 20 leading rabbis in the New York area to discuss his wife Hillary’s presidential campaign. The meeting Tuesday, March 29 in Midtown Manhattan was off the record and lasted for two hours, twice the amount of scheduled time. Participants would not discuss the content. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, called it “constructive” in a brief interview with JTA. “It’s important to have exchanges with candidates,” he said. Potasnik, like others attending, was there in a personal capacity and not on behalf of their affiliated groups. Many of the rabbis took selfies with Clinton.

Among others attending were Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the former president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly; and Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division.

 

Republican Jewish Coalition targeting 4 races

(JTA) — The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) named four incumbent GOP senators as ‘at risk’ in a fundraising drive. The fundraising email sent Tuesday listed Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Mark Kirk of Illinois as needing RJC assistance in winning reelection.

Republicans are defending 24 seats in this year’s Senate race and Democrats 10. Democrats need to win four Senate seats and the presidency to regain control of the body.

According to the fundraising letter, Ayotte has a slight advantage over Maggie Hassan, the state’s Democratic governor. Kirk’s challenger, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, is well liked among those who know her – but much of the state does not know her, the email says. Portman is in a dead heat in polls with Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor, and both are well known in the electorate, it says.

Toomey is leading Democrat Joe Sestak by 43-38 percent in polling, the email says. Toomey edged Sestak, a former congressman, for the seat six years ago. In that race, Sestak was one of the first candidates to accept the backing of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, and the RJC hammered him for it — and signaled it would do so this year. “Toomey leads Joe Sestak, who has a horrible record on Israel and has been supported by J Street,” the email says.

 

Bernie Sanders: ‘I did not compare Trump to Hitler’

(JTA) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asserted in an interview that he did not compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler during a campaign rally over the weekend in Wisconsin.

“Some of you know I’m Jewish. My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland,” Sanders said Saturday. April 2 at a town hall meeting in Milwaukee, when asked about Trump’s comments involving Muslims and banning them from the United States. “He came over; other people in his family did not come over. Most people died. Children died. Relatives of my father. So that is in my heart to see what a lunatic can do by stirring up racial hatred. And we’re not going to allow that to take place in this country.”

Asked the following day by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” if he was really “comparing Trump to Hitler,” Sanders said he did not make that comparison and instead was responding to the fears that Trump’s rhetoric has instilled in Muslims. “What I talked about there was a Muslim woman there next to me, and she is telling me that, what is true, is that people in the Muslim community are very fearful now. She was describing a kid who now locks the door at night,” Sanders told Stephanopoulos. “And what I was saying is I’m going to do everything that I can to kind of stop those Islamophobic attacks so that kids in this country who happen to be Muslim are afraid. No, I did not compare Trump to Hitler. But I will do everything that I can to stop this type of hatred and hate talk that we are hearing.”

 

Donald Trump skips grandson’s bris

(JTA) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump skipped his new grandson’s bris to continue campaigning in Wisconsin. The bris of Theodore James Kushner took place in New York on Sunday, April 3. He is the son of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Ivanka Trump converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009 in order to marry her husband, with whom she already has two children: Arabella, 4, and Joseph, 2. Photos of the younger Trumps leaving for the Manhattan bris, and of guests arriving for the circumcision ceremony, appeared in the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail. Donald Trump did not appear in any of the photos. His ex-wife, Ivana, the baby’s grandmother, was photographed. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed showed him going from event to event all day Sunday in Wisconsin, two days ahead of the state’s Republican and Democratic primaries.

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