Republican Group Deploys Voter Registration Drive in Israel

Romney backers are headed to Israel to drum up ex-pat votes

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Crowds cheer and wave flags as they watch the Celebrate Israel parade in New York, Sunday, June 3, 2012. Thousands of Israel boosters waved blue and white flags as they marched up Fifth Avenue on Sunday for the annual Celebrate Israel parade.

For more than a century, the GOP has had a hard time pulling in the Jewish vote.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

But in a move demonstrating just how close Republicans expect the 2012 election to be, the GOP isn't leaving any constituencies to chance—even those living abroad.

The Republican Jewish Coalition announced Monday that its board of directors, together with former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleicher, are headed next week to Israel to encourage Jewish Americans living abroad to register to vote just in time for the presidential election.

The Republican group hopes American voters living in Israel might help the GOP gain an edge among Jewish voters in the U.S. [See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

The RJC estimates that roughly 150,000 U.S. citizens and eligible voters are living in Israel, including many from key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.

"I'm proud to be part of this advocacy initiative," Fleischer said in a release announcing the trip to Israel. "It's a long flight, but when you think about Israel being home to 150,000 American voters, it's also the equivalent of visiting Dayton, Ohio or Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to get out the message."

According to a Gallup poll last month, Jewish support for President Barack Obama has dropped 10 percent since 2008 when Jewish voters preferred Obama to McCain 75 percent to 19 percent. Today, nearly 30 percent of Jewish voters prefer Romney.

During the outreach trip set for next week, the RJC will host town hall events, hold press conferences and meet with social media experts who will help them engage with Jewish voters abroad.

"With so many critical issues before us and so much at stake, it is important that every American citizen participate in this election," says RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. "Americans living abroad are deeply concerned about America's growing debt burden, about jobs and health care, and about foreign policy issues that affect America's international standing."