This was a full week of Jewish community events for the Giuliani campaign, underscoring the priority the Mayor is giving the community. By full we mean two, but in a week sandwiched between the Ames straw poll (which the Mayor did not participate in) and the fried twinkie laden Iowa State Fair, two events focusing on Orthodox Jews in NYC seems significant to us, despite our apparent bias. We weren’t at the Shaarei Zion event in Brooklyn on Monday night, but the HaModia (sorry, no web link) piece was positive, giving it a front page photo and a half page or so on the inside.
Last night, IPA staff attended (IRS agents, please note: attendance was as 100% nonpartisan, fully 501c3 waving, dispassionate observers. Attention all presidential campaigns: for a comped invitation and free food, you too can have your event blogged on by our staff) a campaign briefing by Giuliani campaign advisor and longtime confidante, Tony Carbonetti, who served as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff during much of his second term.
Although, we didn’t detect anything said from the podium that hasn’t been said by other Giuliani surrogates or the Mayor himself on the record, we assume the remarks were intended to be off the record, so we will not quote Mr. Carbonetti. While the Mayor obviously has the home court advantage in New York, it is interesting that in a GOP field that is as pro-Israel and supportive of faith as they come, the room at the Women’s National Republican Club was noticeably filled with many kipa wearing men and Orthodox women. No surprise that the biggest applause line of the night came during Mr. Carbonetti’s harsh response to a question about Yasser Arafat. They know their crowd.
What interested us though was the theme that came out of the Q & A – which ranged across several hot button issues, is that the Giuliani folks are convinced their guy can win respect – and more importantly votes – even from those who do not fully agree with them on issues (the oft repeated Ronald Reagan eighty percent ally who opposes you on twenty percent of your issues is still your 80% friend) so long as he shows respect for those folks who disagree with him and for the positions they take. Which reminds us of Scott Reed’s notable quote on the Giuliani camp’s early state strategy: It’s not wrong, it just never actually been tested. Orthodox Jews are just one of many subgroups on whom this strategy could work, including evangelical Christians, “Reagan” Democrats, strictly anti-abortion Catholics, rural Second Amendment supporters and others. It would be similar to the coalition (though likely without any equivalent to the Second Amendment folks) the Mayor put together to win his two terms – outer borough Democrats, Orthodox Jews, some Manhattan liberals etc. Whether it can be replicated at the national level remains to be seen, but it’s as good a plan as any. We believe President Clinton’s word for it was triangulation.