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Corzine Smoothes the Road for Obama in the Holy Land

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, shakes hands with New Jersey Governor John Corzine prior to their meeting in Jerusalem, July 21, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Keith B. Richburg
NEW YORK -- Sen. Barack Obama's traveling international road show is not scheduled to land in Israel until later this week, but already the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has an informal, high profile advance man in the Holy Land -- New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D).

Corzine is in Israel on an official visit to boost economic ties between New Jersey and the Jewish state. But in his meetings so far, Corzine told reporters in a conference call, much of the interest has been in the U.S. presidential race. And he said he found Israeli officials receptive to the idea of Obama in the White House.

"There's a lot of talk about American politics," Corzine told reporters in today's midday conference call. While Corzine said he is not there as a campaign spokesman, "I make it clear that I have a preference." He added that he has been telling Israelis, "If there are concerns about the continuity of American policy, that's not a risk that should be on their minds."

Israel is one of the few countries where Obama is not as popular as he is elsewhere; in Europe, large crowds and a raucous welcome await him. But Corzine, who spent Sunday and today in talks with foreign ministry and economic officials in Jerusalem, as well as meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmet, said, "There's a lot greater openness in the political establishment."

"I didn't hear any rejection of the idea of Barack Obama being the next president of the United States from any of the political leaders I talked to today," Corzine told reporters. "There is an understanding that there tends to be a continuity in American foreign policy from one administration to another."

Despite his efforts to ease Obama's entry to Israel, Corzine has no plans to meet Obama on this trip; he'll be in Tel Aviv and Haifa when Obama is in Jerusalem for a one day stop.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 21, 2008; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Again, now it is Israel and the jews that make up our world. Many have suffered and I have no pity for Israel. They are acting like Hitler. Eliminate and treat the Palestinians like dogs.

Posted by: justadad55+ | July 22, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It is the $64 question, isn't it.

How will the influential pro-Israeli Jews here in the US weigh in during this election? Even the smartest people in the world can have their judgment clouded by emotion.

We know that the Clintons are working an agenda for 2012. And that McCain is desperate to give his base some kind of reason to believe that there's hope for election in the fall. And that Obama has a reputation for being like Pres. Carter, in terms of fairness.

And we know that big money givers tend to want something in return. And that there are very powerful Jews in media, business and politics.

On balance, I think the fact that Jews value education, intelligence and morality so much will lead them to stay democratic and vote/support Obama. But the NYC rumor mill is bound to become very active in Sept and Oct....

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 21, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Not all Israelis think that George W. was the best president as concerns Israel. One of my Israeli business colleagues said it quite eloquently, "A weak US is not good for Israel, and Bush has made the US weaker." It's hard to see how McCain, given his stated views, would do much to strengthen that weakened US. An articulate person, who knows the difference between Sunni and Shia, such as Barack Obama at least has the potential for making the US influential again with more than just military might.

Posted by: Abarafi | July 21, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

AIPAC wants "BOMB BOMB BOMB" McCain. Scary world where Jews will do anything to maintain their Warsaw Ghettos and Apartied. We shall see, may be the thing that tips the balance into Global Warming .02, wherein the sea water will rise and swamp the whole area. Then they can all battle each other like WaterWorld (didn't actually see the movie, but I think it was about something like that actually happening).

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 21, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm a pro-Israel Jew and I am 1000% behind Barack Obama. I think his presidency will be great for Israel and for the rest of the world. The Bush Administration has largely ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would like to see a return to the Clinton approach of more active engagement, and I think Obama will do that.

Posted by: Laura | July 21, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This trip is bad for John McCain because Obama deals with the commander and chief issue in voters mind head on. Now people will have an image to think of. My guess is they will be comfortable with what they see.

Posted by: Crews2me | July 21, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama has an image as a moral, progressive leader. How he - and the sanctimonious McCain - handle sensitive issues like west bank settlements will be quite telling.

I'm guessing that they will both do their best to not make the real issues an issue. Who needs to address the truth when you are trying to win a campaign, right?

Hey, if the mainstream media hasn't been reporting it and the US citizens don't care then why should we take a leadership role in something that might help create better conditions for peace in the middle east...

Posted by: JR, Boston | July 21, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Israel and Palestine are where the firs real gaffes will occur. Good to have surro's like Corzine out for you.

Posted by: matt | July 21, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

the latest polling and electoral map:

Posted by: tomabrahams | July 21, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

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