The McCain Campaign has been saying for days, Some Big Hillary backers are going to switch side. The first to be announced is Stephen Muss, the Florida real estate developer (and former owner of the Fontainebleau). In the past, Muss has given tens of thousands of dollars to help Democratic candidates in recent years, including $80,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and CQ MoneyLine. According to the RNC Muss is one of any lifelong democrats who are uncomfortable with Senator Obama’s Anti-Jew Crew:
By Alexander Bolton Posted: 06/10/08 07:30 PM [ET] Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is attracting elite Jewish Democratic donors who backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and are concerned about Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) stance toward Israel, say McCain backers who are organizing the effort to court Democrats.
McCain has already had several fundraising events with Jewish Democrats in Washington and Florida, say his supporters.
He also has the backing of Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who made history as the first Jewish vice presidential candidate and has recently raised questions about Obama’s foreign policy vision for the Middle East.
Stephen Muss, the Florida developer, is the biggest Democratic donor and fundraiser to pledge his support for McCain and the Republican National Committee, said a GOP official. Muss has given tens of thousands of dollars to help Democratic candidates in recent years, including $80,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and CQ MoneyLine.
Muss did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
“Many Jewish Democrats are sensing there is such an existential threat to Israel that you have to vote for an individual who strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), chairman of the GOP’s Jewish Victory Coalition.
Cantor said McCain held a fundraising breakfast with Republican and Democratic Jewish donors last week at the Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“The playing field is wide open for John McCain as far as attracting Jewish support,” he said.
Cantor said Muss would help bring more Jewish Democratic donors in South Florida over to McCain.
“He’s an influential player,” said Cantor. “From my knowledge of his influence in South Florida, that’s significant.”
Brian Ballard, a prominent McCain fundraiser, said that several major Jewish Democratic donors have said they will join McCain’s camp.
“There are Bill Clinton folks who for the last three to six months we’ve been pushing to get involved,” said Ballard in an interview last week, referring to former President Bill Clinton. “In Florida there are a lot of people not happy with Obama’s stance with regards to Israel and regards to Cuba. We’re starting to see some significant people come over.
“Democrats who are traditional large Democratic givers are coming over to our side,” said Ballard.
Jewish support is especially important in Florida, a crucial swing state where Obama trails McCain in recent polls. Jewish voters make up about 5 percent of the electorate in that state. Florida’s Jewish community is also a lucrative source of political fundraising.
Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama’s stance toward Israel, and many big donors from this group supported Clinton. McCain has moved aggressively in recent days to win their allegiance since Clinton dropped her White House bid.
“Her dropping out was huge in terms of potential for crossover voting and crossover support,” said Cantor.
Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama for several reasons. While stumping in Iowa last year, Obama told Democratic activists, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”
Some Jewish voters interpreted the statement as a sign that Obama would be overly sympathetic to the Palestinian side in future peace negotiations with Israel. And some are concerned about a senior Obama adviser’s comments regarding the influence of American Jews on foreign policy. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff, told the Portland Oregonian newspaper in 2003 that the political influence of the Jewish community had hampered efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East.
Obama has also caused some alarm among Jewish Democrats by pledging to negotiate with leaders of nations that have taken hostile stances against Israel, such as Syria and Iran.
The growing sympathy of Jewish Democrats toward McCain is epitomized by Lieberman, a self-described independent Democrat from Connecticut.
Lieberman has launched a new bipartisan grassroots group, Citizens for McCain, to attract Democrats and independent voters to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Lieberman could become a potent weapon for Republicans seeking to pick off Jewish Democrats. As the Democratic Party’s former vice presidential nominee and a former Democratic candidate for president, Lieberman is assumed to have an expansive list of Jewish Democratic donors from around the country.
“Joe Lieberman supporting McCain has gone a long way with the Democratic Jewish community,” said Stu Sandler, deputy executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“People across the board have had trouble with Obama’s stances and some of the people he’s had around him,” said Sandler, citing McPeak.
Sandler said that McCain met with a group of 60 Jewish leaders, including “a handful” of Clinton supporters, before a conference hosted in Washington last week by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
McCain held a fundraiser with Jewish donors on Friday in Key Biscayne, Fla. Before the main event, McCain met with a roomful of Jewish Democratic donors to discuss Israel and other issues important to them.
As many as two dozen Jewish Democrats who attended the meeting gave money to McCain’s campaign at the fundraiser, which raised about $500,000, said a source close to the event’s organizers.
Prominent Democratic fundraisers, however, say they have not encountered Clinton donors who are planning to defect to McCain.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people in the past couple of days and I have not spoken to anybody who was supporting Hillary Clinton and who has indicated any likelihood of supporting McCain,” said Steve Grossman, a former co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a former chairman of AIPAC, who raised tens of thousands of dollars for Clinton this election cycle.