A Jew in the White House may be closer than you think.
With the US presidential elections less than a year away and a presidential arena flooded with possible candidates, the million dollar question on everyone’s mind is who will be the last man, or woman, standing to represent their respective parties?
On the Democratic side, former secretary of state and New York senator Hillary Clinton seems pegged as the favorite to win the nomination. However, recent polls show the tide may be turning.
According to the latest poll by the New York Times/CBS News, Clinton is now neck and neck with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 48 percent of Democratic primary voters prefer Clinton, while 41 percent back Sanders. Only a month ago, Clinton led Sanders nationally with 20 percentage points.
When results of the poll are broken down, primary voters under the age of 45 favor Sanders as president by a 2-to-1 ratio. While 7 out of 10 Democratic voters, including majority of Sanders supporters, believe Clinton will garner the Democratic ticket, the poll indicates a startlingly new sharp divide within the Democratic Party.
Elie Pieprz, a former DC lobbyist, founder of iVoteIsrael and currently a US-Israel consultant, explained to Breaking Israel News, “Every so often, when Clinton starts going down in the polls, you’ll see others, like Sanders, who is running an energetic campaign targeting the left base of the Democratic Party, creep up.”
“As far as Democratic leading candidates go, Clinton is not as strong as people anticipate, partially because of various scandals and this aura of invincibility, which Obama shattered in 2008. Once again, with the Clinton campaign, we’re seeing her try again to create this aura of invincibility.”
Sanders, a Jew from Brooklyn, is the only openly Socialist member of Congress. He would be the first Jewish Democratic presidential candidate. In a past interview with Christian Science Monitor, Sanders said he is “proud to be Jewish” but is “not particularly religious.”
When it comes to Israel, “Sanders is not known as a strong Zionist or pro-Israel personality and is not generally seen as someone aggressive with pro-Israel policies. Should he become president, he would probably continue along those ways,” Pieprz noted.
On the Republican end, Donald Trump, whose ties to Jews is mainly rooted in his daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism, is leading the pack. However, a new third-party contender may be imminently emerging to shake up the Republican Party: former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Bloomberg recently commissioned a poll to test how he would fare in the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
In a report by The Atlantic, Bloomberg is quoted as saying that a “short, Jewish, divorced billionaire” has a small chance of becoming president – but that doesn’t mean he may not try. By testing the public’s temperature with his recent poll, Bloomberg is signaling a possible run.
This is not the first time Bloomberg has contemplated running for president. “Bloomberg has done this before where he’s thrown out feelers and leaked to the press that he had polls done about his viability as candidate,” Pieprz said to Breaking Israel News
“Bernie Sander is all in. But I find it hard to believe Bloomberg would jump in. However, I think he’s getting strength from the Trump campaign that a well to do New Yorker could have an attractive base nationwide,” Pieprz stated.
In August, media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted his support for Bloomberg to run for president.
With Trump becoming very serious candidate, it’s time for next billionaire candidate, Mike Bloomberg to step into ring. Greatest mayor.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) August 24, 2015
Bloomberg, who is Jewish, served as mayor of New York City from 2001 to the end of 2013. Today he is the CEO of Bloomberg L.P., the multibillion dollar company he founded in 1981.
Regarding his support for Israel, “certainly Bloomberg has a positive relationship with Israel,” Pieprz told Breaking Israel News. “When he was mayor he was very visible in going back and forth to Israel, helping businesses, and he’s generally supportive, but not really engaged in international affairs and diplomacy beyond his give and take as a mayor.”
Should the final race to the White House end up being a competition between two “New York Jews”, how would the American political landscape accept the US’s first Jewish president?
“There is no doubt a Jewish person could be president,” Pieprz said. “America was very close to having a Jewish vice president in 2000 with Senator (Joe) Lieberman. The fact that he was Jewish didn’t come up as much as maybe people anticipated. Certainly, it’s 16 years later and the country has had an African American president and for all the excitement about it there wasn’t a tremendous amount of negativity. The glass ceiling has been broken in that perspective.”
When asked whether having a Jewish president would cause questions of allegiance to rise to the surface, Pieprz explained to Breaking Israel News, “I can’t imagine a Jewish president would be problematic but questions about his or her relationship to Israel will come up. We didn’t see that with Obama and his relation with Africa, but with a Jewish candidate this will come up.”
“I don’t think when it comes to Sanders and Bloomberg there will be a lot of strong questions about their commitment to the United States as priority number one. With some other Republican Jewish candidate in the future, who has a strong pro-Israel resume, that may be more of a conflict.”