Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a hardline conservative and practicing Southern Baptist, is carving out a niche with Orthodox Jews — a "potentially winnable slice of an otherwise deeply Democratic demographic," Politico website reports.
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“I share a great many values with the Jewish community and the Orthodox community,” Cruz told Politico in a phone interview. “Chief among them is a passionate dedication to strengthening our friendship and alliance with the nation of Israel.”
Combing a strong Zionist approach with traditional views on social issues is "a dynamic that makes Cruz a natural fit" for Orthodox Jews, Politico writes.
“Senator Cruz started earlier than everyone else, so he’s probably had more contact in the community than anyone else,” said Phil Rosen, a New York lawyer who was a major fund raiser for Mitt Romney.
“Many of the candidates have begun to recognize that the Orthodox Jewish community probably fits more closely to the Republican conservative viewpoint than many other groups.”
Less than a day after announcing his candidacy last month, Cruz hit his first week fundraising goal of $1 million, in large part from money raised at a New York City event that included a “sizable” Orthodox contingency, according to a source.
“The Jewish community has always played an important role in the political process, both as swing voters in a number of swing states, and also as key donors and financial supporters,” Cruz said. “They take seriously the stakes that are posed, the gravity of the threats.”
In the past several weeks alone, Cruz has met with an influential Orthodox rabbi from New York, hosted an event with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to highlight the dangers of a nuclear Iran, and made an appearance at a swanky Passover gathering in California that drew wealthy Orthodox Jews.
In many corners of the Orthodox community Cruz is a “folk hero,” said Jeff Ballabon, an Orthodox Republican operative. He achieved hero status last year when he told a group of Middle Eastern Christians booing Israel that “if you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”
The senator also suggested he connects well with Jews because for his family, America was a safe haven from oppression in Cuba, just as it has been for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe and elsewhere.