Obama meets with Philly Jews


Barack Obama defended his proposal to pursue “aggressive diplomacy” with Iran in a meeting with Philadelphia Jewish leaders.

The Democratic presidential candidate met Wednesday morning with 50 rabbis and other communal leaders at the Rodeph Shalom synagogue in Philadelphia in an attempt to shore up support prior to next week’s pivotal Pennsylvania primary.

Obama, asserting that the current policy of isolating Iran was not working, emphasized his view that diplomacy would be a better first option to achieving the goal of a non-nuclear Iran.

Asked why it was permissible to meet with Iran but not Hamas, as he has criticized former President Jimmy Carter for doing, Obama said, “There is a clear distinction, not necessarily in terms of rhetoric, but in terms of international stature.”

Obama said his interest in meeting with Iranian leaders is practical.

“How do we best achieve our ultimate goal” of a non-nuclear Iran? he asked.

Obama also tried to further distance himself from his former pastor, responding to questions by saying the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. was never his spiritual adviser, only “his pastor.”

The outcome of the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania could determine whether U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who trails in pledged delegates, continues her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama has been gaining support in the Jewish community, with recent polls suggesting a near split among Jews between the IlIinois senator and Clinton, who once enjoyed a strong lead in the community.

Obama had a similar meeting in Cleveland ahead of the Ohio primary.

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