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2020

Florida Jewish leaders stump for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

The event kicked off a series of talks highlighting support from different religious communities.

Several Jewish leaders from Florida urged voters to back the Joe BidenKamala Harris presidential ticket during a Friday afternoon Zoom conference.

Friday’s event was the first in a “Believers for Biden” series which aims to highlight support from Jewish supporters, Muslim constituents and others. Joining the call were U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, state Sen. Lori Berman and state Rep. Joe Geller.

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, also joined the call for a one-on-one talk with Deutch. Emhoff is also Jewish.

“I can’t tell you how much I personally love Florida, which was like my home away from home growing up,” Emhoff said to kick off his portion of the talks.

He described his grandmother moving to South Florida, which has prompted numerous trips to the region over the years.

“I’ve taken Kamala there before. My brother and I went to Miami Beach every summer to visit her,” Emhoff explained. “During Kamala’s primary campaign, I traveled to Florida a lot. I gave my first solo speech here.”

Deutch, a Democrat, argued the Biden and Harris duo will “make our country better and more unified, to bring back empathy and unity.” He pushed several questions Emhoff’s way meant to highlight the Democratic ticket’s appeal to the Jewish community.

“Here we are at a time when white supremacists have been enjoying this renaissance under the [Donald] Trump administration and some of that birther vitriol has recently been directed at Kamala,” Deutch said.

“How has this frightening moment in American history impacted Kamala Harris? How does it inform the Biden-Harris campaign?”

“It’s tough, Ted,” Emhoff responded. “Kamala has broken ground in her career every step of the way and she’s had to face a lot of BS, unfair criticism.”

He added that “as her husband, it’s tough to see it and hear it.”

Deutch and Emhoff are referencing an article published in Newsweek — which the outlet later apologized for — arguing there were questions surrounding Harris’ eligibility to be Vice President.

The article theorized that her parents’ residency status could affect Harris’ eligibility even though Harris was born in the U.S. That one article notwithstanding, legal experts almost unanimously agree that since Harris was born in the U.S., she is eligible to be Vice President due to the country’s birthright citizenship policy.

Nevertheless, Trump spent days praising the article while simultaneously claiming he hadn’t looked into the issue. Trump eventually said the issue is “not something we will be pursuing.”

“They have no record to point to so they resort to these distractions, because that’s all they have,” Emhoff asserted of Republicans. “But they’re not going to work. Kamala uses them as fuel to rise above and fight harder.”

Emhoff also argued that Harris will work to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel.

“You can be sure she will never, ever take the bait of the Trump administration and the Republican Party to turn Israel into a partisan issue. She’s not going to do it,” Emhoff said.

“No matter what the difference is on policy details, nothing is more dangerous to the U.S.-Israel alliance or Israel’s long-term security than letting our beloved homeland become a political football. She won’t let it happen. Joe won’t let it happen. They’re going to sustain the unique, enduring bond between our great nations so we can build a better future together.”

Later in the call, Wasserman Schultz praised Biden’s understanding of Jewish issues.

“We know him, he knows us. And his knowledge base and his understanding of the complexities of the Middle East are second to none,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“No recent President has had the longstanding ties and relationship with Israeli leadership like Joe Biden has with the state of Israel. He understands, like we do, that her security is paramount and he’ll enhance our unbreakable strategic bond that has existed between our two nations for decades.”

Jewish voters typically vote Democratic in presidential elections. In a state as contested as Florida, margins could matter among the large Jewish population in 2020 in terms of determining the state’s winner. That reality was noted by Rep. Frankel later in the call.

“So much is at stake for the Jewish community in this election, so we have to make sure we do everything in our power to get out the vote.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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