Israel : “Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Nuked . . . Stop Obama!” So says a billboard in Miami-Dade that shows a picture of Israel and a nuclear missile labeled “Iran.”
The message is part of the longstanding and so-far-unsuccessful effort to paint Obama as bad for Israel. It hasn’t worked so far, with most polls indicating Obama has about the same level of Jewish support as before.
Florida has roughly 640,000 Jews, who might account for about 6 percent of the Florida electorate (Hispanics are about 14 percent), experts say, and they overwhelmingly back Obama because they tend to be among the most-liberal of voters.
Romney has said Obama has thrown Israel “under the bus,” though Israel’s conservative leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, had said that “there is no bus.” Still, relations between Netanyahu and Obama are frosty.
Haiti : The chances that Haiti will be mentioned in the debate are slim, but it resembles a failed nation that could have a major impact on Florida, the state with the largest number of people of Haitian ancestry, at least 376,000.
The 2010 Haitian earthquake killed 150,000 to 300,000 people, and increased pressure on Haitians to emigrate to the United States.
Haitian politics surfaced in the August Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson and Dr. Rudy Moise, a prominent Haitian philanthropist. Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly, basically endorsed Moise. But Obama endorsed Wilson. Wilson prevailed.
Defense : Ever since the 1820s, when Key West was established as a key U.S. naval station, the defense industry has been crucial to Florida. Naval and Air Force bases ring the state from Jacksonville to Key West to Tampa to the Pensacola area.
One study estimated military spending accounted for $30 billion in Florida in 2010 — exceeding the state’s general-revenue tax collections by $7 billion that year. Military contractor Lockheed claims its F-35 fighter project will yield $1.6 billion in Florida economic impact and that cutting the project — widely bashed as wasteful and unneeded — will cost the state jobs.
Under a congressional deal reached with Obama, the defense industry nationwide is facing a nearly $500 billion cut over a decade, starting in January. Republicans like Florida Gov. Rick Scott are warning that it could cost states like Florida 39,000 jobs.
Romney, who has pledged to increase defense spending, has criticized the proposed defense cuts for weakening the nation. So has Ryan, even though the House Budget Committee chairman voted for the law that called for the cuts. Romney and Ryan have called for more defense spending, but won’t say how they would pay for it.
In drawing a direct line between defense spending and jobs, however, Republicans are also tacitly contradicting their message that government spending doesn’t create jobs. And in Florida — which receives a total of $96 billion annually from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — federal spending clearly fuels the economy.
But that’s another debate for another time in Florida.