The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.
The questionnaire does not ask about the issues that AJC surveys have shown are ranked highest in importance by Jewish voters. (Like other Americans, Jews are largely focused on the economy, a topic that is missing from the questionnaire, as are health care, Social Security and social issues like abortion and gay marriage). Rather, the questionnaire focuses on issues that are of a more particularly Jewish concern, such as Middle East policy and religion-state issues. (It also includes a question on energy, which is a particular focus on AJC and, of course, ties into Middle East policy.)
I didn’t notice much that is new in the two nominees’ responses. Mostly, they reiterated their previously stated positions and talking points.
I was, however, struck by the candidates’ respective answers to the questionnaire’s final question.
The AJC asked: "Do you support federal money being allocated to religious institutions for provision of social services or to parochial schools? What restrictions, if any, would you put on these funds, whether provided by grants or vouchers? Do you support legislation to strengthen the obligation of employers to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious practice?"
Obama gave a lengthy answer that addressed some but not all aspects of this question. Among other things, the president said that he does not support vouchers for parochial schools.
Romney by contrast gave an answer that was noteworthy for its brevity (both in comparison to the president’s response and to his own answers to all the other questions). Romney answered simply: "Where it does not conflict with state laws, the policies that I will put forth would allow Title I and IDEA funds to follow students to parochial schools."
Maybe the folks drafting the GOP nominee’s answers were running out of steam by the time they got to the end.