Their success varied. The McCain campaign had hoped to exploit Jewish voters’ initial unease with Obama, raising questions about the depth of his support for Israel and his willingness to negotiate with its enemies, such as Iran. It ran television ads in Florida and other places with large Jewish populations that quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Ahmadinejad says Israel won’t survive.... Obama says he would meet with him personally.”
Senator Lieberman, a leading political Jewish voice and a former Democratic vice presidential nominee, was frequently with Senator McCain on the stump. When he wasn’t, he was often in Florida working on behalf of his GOP Senate colleague.
Some Republicans also sought to exploit fears that Obama was secretly a Muslim or had close associations with anti-Semitic black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan.
That did not sit well with some Jews, who organized rabbis and others to counter such attacks on Obama.
Then there was Sarah Silverman to contend with. The young Jewish comedienne became the spokeswoman for the so-called Great Schlep. It signed up more than 25,000 young Jewish voters and urged them to go to Florida to get their grandparents to support Obama.
In a video that went viral on Youtube.com, she urged people to threaten not to visit their grandparents in Florida for a year if they vote for McCain.
“If they vote for Barack Obama, they’re going to get another visit this year,” she says. “If not, let’s just hope they stay healthy until next year.”