On Board The Hillary Train


Will American Jews soon be shlepping for Hillary?

The recent launch of a political action committee supporting a presidential run by Hillary Rodham Clinton makes one wonder if in 2016 Sarah Silverman will be urging millennials to hit up bubbe and zeyde again in a repeat effort to make sure Florida votes blue.

Silverman hasn’t gotten back to us, and other than a suggestion last fall that the former secretary of state hire a voice coach, the comedian hasn’t said whether she’s going to hit YouTube with a repeat of her 2008 viral video “The Great Schlep.” (The effort was aimed at getting the grandparents of young Jews to warm to the candidacy of Barack Obama; Florida went blue in 2008 and 2012.)

But though 2016 may not be on the comedian’s mind just yet, those spearheading Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary are already in full swing, launching the PAC June 3 to get Jews to donate their time and money to preparing the ground for the former first lady’s second run for the presidency.

JARC is affiliated with Ready for Hillary, a Super PAC founded in January 2013 that so far has garnered more than 2 million supporters, $6 million in donations and a plethora of subgroups including groups for Asian Americans, blacks, Latinos, members of the LGBT community, Native Americans, veterans, women, “young Americans” and people of “faith.”

Rachael Schneider, Ready for Hillary’s liaison with the youth and Jewish affinity groups, said the affinity groups not only help in building the “grassroots army” critical for a presidential run but also sends a message of wide-ranging support.

JARC was started by Marc Stanley, the immediate past chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council; Fran Katz Watson, a veteran fundraiser for Democratic and pro-Israel causes; and Steve Rabinowitz, a Washington publicist close to a number of national Jewish groups who is a veteran of the Clinton White House communications team.

“We started it to make it very clear that Jewish Americans want her to run and get organized very early so if and when she decides to run we can hand her the list of supporters,” said Stanley.

He added that Clinton’s record aligns well with issues of importance to American Jews.

“She speaks well to the Jewish community on issues of social justice healthcare, choice, separation of church and state, poverty, education, support for Israel. I think she is a great candidate for American Jews,” he said.

Rabinowitz, who has worked with the Clintons since the early 1990s, added that on a personal level, Clinton has a core of authenticity and integrity that stands out.

“She’s active and involved on the issues not because they’re the politic things to do, but because they’re right,” he said, noting that even back in Little Rock, Clinton’s “heimishe” personality made her a favorite at “both” of the city’s synagogues.

As far as whether she’s a favorite of Sarah Silverman’s, Rabinowitz said he hopes so, but doesn’t think that in Clinton’s case, another “Great Schlep” will be needed. Clinton already has huge support among Florida’s bubbe population. And he doesn’t think old-fashioned gender norms will prevent Jewish men from voting for her as well.

“It’s true that Hillary happened to, in her Senate races — as her husband did before her — poll very well with older white men and with Jews,” he said. “So those two together means there shouldn’t be much of a zeyde problem.”


JTA contributed to this report.