The Emergency Committee for Israel, a combative conservative group, is set to release a sharp-edged new ad targeting older Jewish voters in Florida over the Obama administration's lack of clarity over Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel.
The ad follows Mitt Romney's trip to Israel where he participated in a "love-fest," in the words of one prominent donor, with conservative Israeli leaders and American Jewish Republicans.
Opening with a scene in the White House press briefing room when officials refused to say if Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the ad shows clips of Romney's visit to the city this week. It closes with a photo of a yarmulke-wearing Romney in prayer at the Western Wall, with a narrator saying, "Next year, President Mitt Romney in Jerusalem — the capital of Israel.
Israeli leaders insist that Jerusalem is their permanent and indivisible capital, and American politicians intermittently promise — as Romney has — to move the American embassy their to make that point. However, the status of the heavily-Arab East Jerusalem is disputed, and many peace plans assume a divided city with a Palestinian capital there as well.
In American political terms, the politics are clearer. Florida is a must-win state for Romney, but it's also one in which he's down by six points in recent polling. Republicans are making a concerted — if perennial — effort to win over a traditional Democratic bloc by using Israel as a wedge issue in the race.
"The contrast couldn't be clearer. Barack Obama is agnostic, at best, about whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," said Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor and ECI's chairman, in an emailed statement. "Mitt Romney understands the meaning of Jerusalem, whole and free, the capital of Israel."
The ad buy, which is targeted to the top three Jewish population areas of Florida, will be shown an emphasis on Marlins games, local broadcast, and sitcoms favored by older voters according to Noah Pollak, the executive director of ECI, who declined to disclose the amount the group is spending.
"The ad will air hundreds of times in the coming days," he said.