Swing states target of Jewish outreach this weekend

With less than a month to go before Election Day, Barack Obama’s campaign is sponsoring Jewish outreach events in three important swing states this weekend – and that doesn’t even include “The Great Schlep.”

At noon at a Philadelphia Jewish community center, Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) are among the speakers at an event billed as a discussion on “Senator Barack Obama, Israel and the 2008 election.” The event follows on the heels of a parade of Jewish surrogates who fanned out to speak all day last Sunday, including former New York Mayor Ed Koch, U.S. Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

At 4 p.m. this afternoon in Delray Beach, Fla., the campaign will be providing “Jewish outreach training” at its S. Florida headquarters. While “The Great Schlep” is an independent effort and the Obama campaign is not permitted to coordinate with its sponsor, the Jewish Council for Education and Research, South Florida campaign spokesman Bobby Gravitz said that “we are hoping folks who are travelling this weekend” and in town by this afternoon would be interested in attending. He said Florida Jewish outreach director Halie Soifer would be discussing Obama’s positions on the Middle East, and also conduct a question and answer session.

And on Sunday at 5 p.m., Obama foreign policy adviser Dennis Ross, U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin, again, will be part of what the campaign is calling one of its largest Jewish outreach events of the year in Cleveland.

Recent polls have Obama competitive, and in some cases leading, McCain in all three states – which George W. Bush won in 2000 and 2004. And all three are considered to have Jewish populations large enough to possibly make a difference in an extremely close race.

But not all the Obama activity is in swing states. Koch, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer will hold a town hall meeting to discuss “Why Obama is best for Israel and America” in Paramus, N.J., a state that is widely considered to be a safe blue state this year.

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