Obama Targeting Jewish Vote in Fla. Campaign

The Barack Obama campaign in Florida, targeting the Jewish vote in a state which has proven crucial in recent presidential campaigns, has launched a new strategy to mobilize hundreds of community leaders in support of the Democratic ticket.

Recent polls have indicated the state and its 27 electoral votes - a tenth of the 270 needed for victory in November - are leaning Republican. But a Rasmussen poll released on Monday showed Obama was even with John McCain. Florida's Jewish population, 650,000 in a state of some 18 million people, is one of the largest in the United States.

Vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden campaigned in south Florida last week, and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York is to stump for Obama in the Sunshine State this week.

Former senior U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross is also expected to campaign for Obama in Florida, Democratic activists said.

"The Jewish community in Florida is supporting the Obama-Biden ticket because of their vision for change and strong support for Israel's security," Rabbi Joel Levine of Palm Beach Gardens said in a statement released by the Obama campaign.

"We know they will work to make real the principle that guides our community: Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world and this country we hold dear," he added.

The Obama campaign has launched six Jewish Community Leadership Committees (JCLCs) in Florida, comprising nearly 1000 Jewish leaders across the state in Miami, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Sarasota.