Pittsburgh may have lost its steel mills and jobs, pollution and population, but it hasn’t lost its importance in the race for the White House.
The Keystone State is shaping up to be the key state for the 2008 election, focusing on how Jewish senior’s votes in southwestern Pennsylvania may very well clinch the election.
Jews make up about 4 percent of the electorate in the Pittsburgh area. Polls predict that 70 percent of those will vote democratic.
Sen. Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker at a Rally For Retirees on Friday, Oct. 24, at the Westin Hotel, Downtown. A well-orchestrated slide show and panel of speakers warmed up the cheering crowd before Clinton made her appearance.
According to Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, almost all seniors vote.
“91 percent of you will vote,” he told the crowd. “We finally have a candidate who is about to take the federal government and invest in the United States. We need to treat this country with a federal policy that says we’re going to redo our roads again, redo our infrastructure, we’re going to build again.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also spoke at the event.
“The crucial swing vote in this election is seniors and retirees,” he said.
“I know how hard this is going to be,” Clinton told the crowd. “We need steady intelligent leadership we need a president who will get up every day in that White House and know who he is working for and who will give us and our children and our grandchildren a chance for a better life which is part of the American birthright.”
After the event, Rendell, who is Jewish, spoke to The Chronicle about how Jews in Chicago see Obama.
“When Hillary lost in the primaries, I decided I had to be for Obama. But I called three of my most significant Jewish friends in Chicago and Jerry Reinsdorf (the owner of the Chicago White Sox), Penny Pritzker and Neil Blum, and I said how is this guy? Not as a candidate but how has he been over his public career? And they said he’s been a great friend of Israel and a great friend of the Jews in Illinois. That was good enough for me.”
Rendell stressed that to win the Jewish vote, Obama will have to reaffirm his strong support for Israel, and talk about the things that matter to seniors — Social Security, Medicare and prescription drugs.
(Dev Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)