WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Republican Jewish Coalition is sending two of its top officials to Israel to rally for expatriate votes.
The voter registration drive led by Ari Fleischer, the press secretary during the George W. Bush presidency and an RJC board member, and Matt Brooks, the RJC executive director, is unusually high profile. Campaigning by both parties among expatriates tends to be left to local organizers, as the numbers of overseas voters are low relative to turnout domestically.
Brooks told JTA on Tuesday, a day after next week’s outreach tour was announced, that the stakes are high enough this election that campaigning in Israel could garner potentially critical Republican votes.
"If you look at the numbers, there is a significant opportunity out there for the Republicans to mine a number of votes," Brooks said, noting that Americans in Israel tend to favor Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate, over President Obama, in contrast to United States, where Jews tend to favor Democrats. "If this election is going to be as close as people think it is, and with the support Romney is getting in Israel, being able to turn out American voters, especially from battleground states, could be critical."
An RJC release said the tour, from July 9-13 "will include media events, town hall meetings with U.S. citizens living abroad, and meetings with leading bloggers and social media activists on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms who are expert in communicating directly with potential voters."
"It’s a long flight, but when you think about Israel being home to 150,000 American voters, it’s also the equivalent of visiting Dayton, Ohio or Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to get out the message," Fleischer said in the statement. "In this election, every vote is going to be important."