WASHINGTON (Sep. 28)
Michael Dukakis is expected to formally name a national group of prominent Jewish supporters next week, in hopes of boosting his presidential bid as the election campaign reaches its stretch run.
“This is the time in the campaign where people really begin to focus on the issue,” said Steven Grossman, the newly appointed co-chairman of the National Jewish Leadership Council for Dukakis-Bentsen.
In addition to having seven co-chairpeople, the group will have a steering committee of 20 to 25 prominent Jews.
The group’s aim is to “get the message to the Jewish community as to why they are supporting Dukakis,” a Dukakis campaign source said.
The source added that while some of the groups’ leaders have been generous contributors to the Dukakis campaign, “this is not a fundraising vehicle.”
The co-chairs are:
David Hermelin of Detroit, president of the American ORT Federation; international campaign chairman for State of Israel Bonds; and national vice chairman of the United Jewish Appeal.
Morton Mandel of Cleveland, past president of the Council of Jewish Federations and the Jewish Welfare Board. Mandel heads Dukakis’ Jewish outreach committee in Ohio.
Steven Grossman of Boston, a member of the executive committee of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, who co-chairs Dukakis’ national finance committee.
Edward Sanders of Los Angeles, former president of AIPAC, who left that post to serve as senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on the Middle East. Sanders heads Dukakis’ Jewish outreach committee in California.
Dan Shapiro of New York, past president of the UJA Federation of New York and currently vice president of the CJF.
Howard Squadron of New York, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and former president of the American Jewish Congress.
Elaine Winik of Rye, N.Y., past president of the women’s division of UJA and a national UJA vice chairperson. Squadron and Winik co-chair Dukakis’ Jewish outreach committee in New York.
ISSUES OF JEWISH CONCERN
Hermelin said the group’s purpose will be to show voters that there are Jewish leaders who are “supportive” of Dukakis, but also to advise Dukakis and give him “informed opinions as to the issues that concern the Jewish population.”
Sanders said the group’s goal is “to advance the cause of Dukakis in the Jewish community and to act as surrogates” for him.
According to Sanders, the group plans to initially meet Dukakis in Boston during the first week in October.
With the exception of Hermelin, noticeably absent from the list of co-chairpeople are current presidents of Jewish groups, although many Jewish organizations have rules prohibiting or restricting partisan political activities by their leaders.
Grossman cited one concern, that of preserving “the integrity of the philanthropic mission” of groups that could potentially jeopardize their tax-exempt status.
One prominent Democratic Jewish political observer was less than satisfied about Dukakis’ selection of co-chairs, saying the Massachusetts governor could have done “much better.”
He said that “some of the names on the Democratic side don’t stack up with some of the heavyweights on the Republican side,” citing three prominent Jews in Vice President George Bush’s National Jewish Campaign Committee: Max Fisher of Detroit, Gordon Zacks of Columbus, Ohio, and Richard Fox of Philadelphia.
The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, also have a year-round Jewish political group called the National Jewish Coalition, which is an outgrowth of the first Reagan-Bush campaign of 1980.