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Florida delegates: We’re behind Barack, but have work to do back home

“I don’t want anyone to blame Hillary if [Obama] loses the election,” said Jewish Democratic National Convention Hillary Clinton delegate Bill Kling Wednesday morning. Her speech was “absolutely heartfelt. …I think she did enough to show her support.”

The 80-year-old Plantation resident was representative of his fellow Florida Jewish delegates pledged for Clinton. They lauded her speech Tuesday night, said they were 100 percent behind Barack Obama but acknowledged that some of their fellow Jewish Clinton supporters in South Florida were still not sold on the presumptive nominee.

“A lot of [Jewish Democrats] are saying …. they’re not going to vote,” said Kling.

Diana Mazel Pittarelli of Hollywood said she said seen the hostility toward Obama in Broward County that others have also described. “A lot of these people … don’t know enough about him.” She added that many of the reasons they provide for not liking Obama – from his name to his policies on the Middle East – are simply “excuses for other things,” namely their reluctance to vote for a black candidate. As a realtor who has brought black families to South Florida condo boards, Pittarelli said she is familiar with it.

Others were more optimistic. “Little by little,” she’s seeing former Clinton supporters jump on the Obama bandwagon, said Diane Glasser, first vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and a superdelegate. She hoped she’d see some further movement when she returned home, due to Clinton’s speech.

“It’s hard for older people to let go,” said Bunny Steinman of Boynton Beach, president of the Democratic Club of Greater Boynton. But “I see people coming around. … I think it’s doable.”

Steinman, like others, said the most help would be for the Democratic candidate himself to introduce himself personally to their neighbors. “Obama needs to come down and get in to some of these older communities,” she said.

Even an Obama delegate could understand the reason for some reluctance by Clinton supporters. “It’s a process,” said Mark Alan Siegel of Boca Raton. “When the future of the Jewish people is at stake, you want to be really careful.” He said that more education and dissemination of “accurate information … around the minyan table” should do the trick.

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