Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann meets with Orthodox leaders


NEW YORK (JTA) — Rep. Michele Bachmann became the latest presidential hopeful to meet with Orthodox Jewish leaders to discuss Jewish and Israel issues.

"She introduced herself," Rabbi David Zweibel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, told the New York Post of the Tuesday meeting with the Minnesota Republican held in the Orthodox organization’s headquarters in Manhattan.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another GOP contender, and President Obama had met with a "similar group," Zweibel noted. He said the group also will be meeting with other candidates.

Recent polling shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry surging ahead of Romney, the former front-runner, in the Republican presidential field, with Bachmann in third.

According to the Post, Bachmann spent an hour discussing issues such as same-sex marriage and Israel security. She described herself, Zweibel told the Post, as "a person of faith," but he also warned that could "cut both ways" for Orthodox voters because of the community’s belief that religion and government be separate.

Yachonon Donn, an editor at the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia tweeted that Bachmann "knew the internal issues running the conversation in the Jewish world better than many local pols."

Bachman, an evangelical Christian, has been quoted as describing herself as "a Christian of Jewish heritage." In stump speeches she often mentions her time working at a kibbutz in Israel 40 years ago.

The late entry of Perry into the Republican primary has left Jewish Republicans surveying a shifting field of candidates who seem uniformly pro-Israel, JTA wrote this week.  

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