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Mucho pro-Israel money for McCain (but not an official endorsement)

John McCain raised more than $1.5 million at a New Jersey fundraiser Tuesday night, and upwards of a third of it came via donations through the pro-Israel political action committee NORPAC– with even more coming through other NORPAC-affiliated donors. But the president of the group said that the fundraiser was not an official endorsement of the Arizonan, and if there was interest, the PAC would be willing to assist with a fundraiser for Barack Obama.

NORPAC president Ben Chouake said that the details of the Teaneck fundraiser were arranged by the McCain campaign, but that many of those that chaired the event were affiliated with the New Jersey-based political action committee. Unlike many other traditional pro-Israel PACs, which raise money and then distribute those funds to candidates, NORPAC acts as a “conduit,” he said, bundling the contributions they collect for a specific candidate so as to best demonstrate the support a candidate is receiving from the pro-Israel community.

Chouake said that while he personally is a supporter of the Republican candidate, NORPAC would be willing to serve in the same conduit role if some of its members wanted to hold a similar event for Barack Obama. “If Obama said he’s coming to New Jersey … absolutely,” said Chouake – although he added that an Obama supporter from NORPAC would have to handle the organizational duties.

But he wasn’t sure how much money such an event would bring in, estimating that among the 6,000 people on NORPAC’s mailing list, the split was 80-20 for McCain – although he did note that as a single-issue Israel group his PAC is not a true representation of the feelings of the entire Jewish community.

NORPAC did give $5,000 to McCain during the primaries, but Chouake said they wouldn’t be making a similar donation in the general election cycle. As of the end of July, the only other pro-Israel PAC that has made a donation to either presidential candidate is the D.C.-based National PAC, which donated $5,000 to McCain’s campaign during the primaries in early March.

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