Super Tuesday draws comments from locals

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Members of the St. Louis Jewish community responded to the results of “Super Tuesday” during which there were 24 states having primary votes or party caucuses, including Missouri. Nationally, on the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain increased his lead over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the latter of whom dropped out of the race within days of the results.

Among the Democrats, Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois finished in a virtual dead heat in terms of popular vote, and delegate count, leaving the Democratic quest for the nomination too close to call.

The St. Louis Jewish Light has interviewed members of the local Jewish community who have supported the various candidates, and asked them to respond the the status of their choices and outlooks for the balance of the campaign. Among the Democrats, there was concern over the fact that the nominee has still not been determined, but relief that the tone of the campaign has become more civil, and there was confidence that the party would come together after the nominee has been determined.

Marvin Plattner, a retired businessman who was active for many years in Jewish Federation, Israel Bonds and other Jewish volunteer work, was pleased that John McCain appears to have clinched the nomination, although Mike Huckabee remains in the race. “As an ordinary Missouri citizen who has voted for two Democrats in previous presidential elections, I feel that John McCain has what is needed in today’s world to become our next president. He is a strong supporter of national security and has always solidly backed the U.S.-Israel relationship. McCain will need a strong running mate, and my own choice is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who I believe is very intelligent and who can unite the various factions of the Republican Party.”

Terry Bloomberg, founder and owner of Developmental Childcare and a longtime volunteer and leader in numerous Jewish and general community organizations was pleased with the strong national showing for Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, even though Illinois Senator Barack Obama carried Missouri and his home state of Ilinois. “Nationally, Hillary did extremely well, so that the race is still much to close for anyone to call,” Bloomberg said. “I still feel that Hillary Clinton is by far the best qualified to become our new president. During the campaign I have heard people question whether she is ‘electable.’ The same questions were raised when she first ran for U.S. Senator in New York. Well, she has been one of the hardest working and most effective members of the Senate, and has proved that she is indeed electable even when people were calling her a ‘carpetbagger.'” Bloomberg added that she “strongly feels that the Democratic Party will come together and unite by whichever candidate is ultimately selected.”

Gloria Bilchik, a Creve Coeur freelance writer and longtime community organizer and volunteer, who was an early supporter of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination was “of course thrilled that he did so well nationally and also carried our own state of Missouri. I am ecstatic that he won Missouri the same way Senator Claire McCaskill did, by winning the large cities and suburban counties where the populations are large. What I have also found exciting is the degree of enthusiasm and incredible diversity among the volunteers working so hard on behalf of Obama. I saw not only lots of young people, I saw many older people who had never worked on a poltical campaign. There were African-Americans and whites, rich and poor; it was really an impressive group.”

Richard Senturia, who earlier in the campaign indicated that he could support Republican former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee if he wins the nomination, told the St. Louis Jewish Light that he continues to “admire and support the positions of Huckabee and the major issues, and could support him if he wins the nomination, but realistically he is so far behind John McCain at this point that it is unlikely that he will be the nominee.” Senturia, an educational consultant and director of the pro-Israel organization Citizens for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East, added, “I could certainly support McCain if he becomes the nominee, and I have based my preferences on the priority positions of the various candidates which are posted on their Web sites. I stronly encourage your readers to check out those Web sites for themselves. The Web sites of both Huckabee and McCain stress a strong national defense in these times of warfare and terrorist threats, and they do so to a far greater extent than their potential opponents on the Democratic side.

He noted, “It seems clear that the two remaining Republican candidates, Huckabee and McCain have better positions and track records on these national security and foreign policy concerns than either of their likely Democratic opponents.”

Published Feb. 13, 2008

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