Surrogates for Clinton, Trump plus many local candidates highlight Jewish group forum tonight

Moderated discussion, meet-and-greet on the agenda
Surrogates for Clinton, Trump plus many local candidates highlight Jewish group forum tonight
Posted at 8:00 AM, Nov 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-02 09:38:48-04

CINCINNATI -- If you’re one of the few Americans who hasn’t decided which presidential candidate to vote for, there’s one more chance to hear from the campaigns before Tuesday.

Two local Jewish groups have joined forces to sponsor a candidate forum today, Nov. 2, at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center, 8485 Ridge Road.

It begins at 6:30 p.m. with a candidate meet-and-greet, which at least two dozen candidates for local races will attend, and continues at 7:30 p.m. with a moderated discussion of the presidential race.

Representing the Hillary Clinton campaign is Laura Rosenberger, foreign policy adviser for Hillary for America, where she coordinates development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging and strategy. David Peyman, senior adviser and national director for Jewish affairs and outreach for the Trump-Pence campaign, will serve as the surrogate for the Donald Trump campaign.

Dan Hurley, producer and host of 12 Newsmakers, Local 12’s weekly segment on political/urban issues, has agreed to moderate.

After the election, at 7 p.m. Nov. 16, the two groups will host another forum, this one a postmortem of the election results.

"We want to be a resource for members of the Cincinnati community, so they can learn the issues and cast their votes with confidence," said Sarah Weiss, director of one of the event’s organizers, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati, a part of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

It’s the third such candidate forum that the council has sponsored, the last one being during the 2012 presidential campaign. But it’s the first year that the American Jewish Committee has partnered with the council on the forum, said the AJC’s regional director, Cathy Heldman.

Heldman’s just hoping the events will educate the public about the candidates and answer their questions, she said.

The 2012 candidate forum drew an audience of about 400, Weiss said, and the election postmortem about 100.

The organizers hope to set an example for the rest of the nation in how to discuss politics amicably, Weiss said, focusing on the issues rather than on personal attacks.

"The Jewish community has a rich history of political engagement," she said. "We like discourse and dialogue, but at the same time, we want to make sure it stays civil."

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, the council doesn’t make political endorsements. But it sometimes speaks out on issues.

In December, for example, its board of directors issued a statement against “intolerant rhetoric” directed against the Muslim community. That month, after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Trump’s campaign called for a complete shutdown on Muslims entering the country.

"The (council) believes there is no place in America, a nation founded on religious freedom, for discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity," the statement read.

"As Jews, we recognize that we have flourished in America because of religious tolerance," Weiss said. "Having suffered times of intolerance in other places, we’re really sensitive to hearing groups being targeted for their religious identity."

This year’s after-election forum will feature Jeremy Fuleberg, a political reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, and Eric Rademacher, co-director of the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research.