Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – After attending a fundraiser for Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago this week, Robin Bernstein was more pumped up than ever about the Republican presidential nominee.

Bernstein is among the minority of Jewish voters supporting Trump, the iconoclastic real-estate mogul and part-time Floridian who has deepened the partisan divide at the mahjong table at other clubs throughout South Florida.

For Bernstein, the choice between Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — whose experience includes stints as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state — is simple: which candidate will be the best at keeping the country safe.

“You don’t build a business like that, an international empire, by being a pussycat. You have to be tough. You have to be resolute. You have to be firm. And you have to be strong,” Bernstein, a resident of Palm Beach and one of the exclusive Mar-a-Lago club’s original members, said about Trump in a telephone interview after Monday’s breakfast fundraiser. “So you have somebody that may get a little hot under the collar. … I think it’s about time we had somebody with some chutzpah.”

Bernstein is one of a small subset of Jewish voters, most of them Republican, who distrust Clinton because of her affiliation with President Barack Obama and his administration.

They point to Obama’s chilly relationship with Israel over the past eight years as a harbinger of what Clinton will deliver if she takes over the White House.

“The Democrat party is an openly anti-Israel party. Period. If you don’t see that, then nothing else makes sense,” said Sid Dinerstein, a former Palm Beach County GOP chairman and Trump supporter.

But a poll late this summer showed that Israel ranked near the bottom among issues that will sway likely Jewish voters in Florida.

The economy, the Islamic state terrorist group known as ISIS, and the U.S. Supreme Court were at the top of the list of Jewish voters’ concerns, pollster Jim Gerstein, of Washington, D.C.-based GBA Strategies, found in a poll conducted in August.

While Israel is important to Jewish voters, “they prioritize the issues they care about that can affect them on a daily basis,” Gerstein said in a recent telephone interview.

“Where conventional wisdom is wrong is that they vote on Israel,” he said.

The poll, which showed that Jewish voters in Florida overwhelmingly support Clinton, was conducted before Trump was engulfed in controversy concerning vulgar comments about women and a series of allegations that he groped or kissed women against their will.

“The way that Donald Trump has spoken, or we have learned he has spoken, about women and the stories that have come out in recent days cause Jewish voters to react the same way that any other voter reacts, which is with concern, with anger and, with respect to some of what he said, with repulsion,” said Congressman Ted Deutch, a Palm Beach County Jewish Democrat who is stumping for Clinton. “The overwhelming majority of Jews know that it’s not right for anyone to speak about women the way that Donald Trump speaks about women.”

Deutch, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a self-described “lifelong pro-Israel activist.”

Clinton has “a decades-long commitment to the state of Israel,” Deutch said.

Critics, including Dinerstein, blast Clinton for her support of — and involvement with — a pact with Iran, aimed at preventing the longtime U.S. foe from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons. Deutch was among a number of Democrats who opposed the agreement.

But Deutch now defends the deal, saying the U.S. has two choices.

“We can either stringently enforce it and work to ensure that our allies are with us to go after Iran’s other bad behavior, or we can take the Trump approach, which is to get rid of the whole thing, lose the ability to work with our allies and leave us out on our own in ways that would not advance our national security,” he said.

State Rep. Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat who will join the state Senate after the November election, is married to a rabbi and has close ties to Israel.

Trump’s stand on immigration — he has advocated building a wall across the Mexican border and banning Muslims from entering the country — and the Republican candidate’s comment that he would take a “neutral” position on Israel are chilling for many Jewish voters, Rader said.

“But Israel is not the top issue in the campaign,” Rader said. “Banning Muslims, choosing for the Supreme Court, the social issues, like common-sense gun legislation, are enormous issues for American Jews when they’re voting for the next leader of the free world.”

But for others, Trump’s unapologetic views on controversial topics have unleashed heretofore repressed sentiments.

“He said all of the things they told us we’re not allowed to say,” Dinerstein said.

Rader referred to the importance of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world to make it a better place. Former President Bill Clinton, wearing a yarmulke, spoke of the concept recently while addressing a synagogue in South Florida.

“When the two candidates speak, I think Hillary Clinton’s view of the world has more to do with tikkun olam and repairing it than Donald Trump’s and the main groups that are supporting him,” Rader said.

But to Bernstein, who has known Trump for decades, Clinton is untrustworthy. She pointed to recent releases of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign obtained by the WikiLeaks organization. Critics of Clinton say the emails show that, as secretary of state, Clinton gave special treatment to contributors to her family’s foundation.

“This corruption that Hillary Clinton has committed, I think it’s treasonous,” Bernstein said.

Jewish voters make up about 5 percent of the state’s 12.7 million voters, and about 25 percent of Jewish voters are Republican, according to estimates by Gerstein, the pollster.

For a number of Jews in Florida, neither candidate appears to be a good option.

“Most people going into the poll booth are going to be voting against somebody,” said former state senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican who is now a lobbyist. “A lot of us are extremely frustrated.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

Comments (42)
  1. steve says:

    get over it libs

  2. Hill411 says:

    The choice for whom to vote boils down to:
    1) Will you vote for a proven liar and someone who would not come to the aid of those in peril? Ring….rinnnngggg……rinnnnnnnnnggggggg! Hello…hello is someone there? Hello….HELP!!!
    2) Will you vote for someone who said words that are truly offensive but no one was injured or died?

    1. richardjstacy says:

      I agree. The candidate of accomplishment v the candidate of failure. Pretty easy to figure this out folks. That’s why I have already cast my vote in CA for Mr. Trump. I am a CA licensed architect in continuous practice as a sole-proprietor since 1978 having graduated from Cal with a Masters in 1974 and serving my apprenticeship. God’s speed Mr. Trump. We have come a long way.

  3. Ira says:

    Clinton will to go war with Russia. In Israel, the Russians carry a lot of weight.

  4. Chop Chop says:

    About time the “got smart”!!

  5. John says:

    WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE CELEBRATING WITH AFTER NOVEMBER 8? If you are thinking of voting for or supporting Clinton, think again! A vote for Clinton, is more than just a vote for her, it’s a vote for all of these people and groups who support her and her goals. Her goals are their goals, and their goals are her goals. On Clinton’s side: PEOPLE WHO TAKE A KNEE FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. Soros, Pelosi, Black Lives Matter, ultra-liberal Hollywood elites, Al Gore, ultra-liberal news media, and now add to that Donna (I Got The Question Beforehand) Brazile, ABORTIONISTS. On Donald’s side: PEOPLE WHO LOVE AND SALUTE DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. We The Proud Deplorables, rednecks (according to Bill), Bernie supporters (who were duped by Hillary per WikiLeaks), Catholics and Evangelicals (who are mocked by Podesta and others in the WikiLeaks), NRA, ICE border patrol union, Fraternal Order of Police, and just a lot of good, hard-working people of every age, sex, color, and national origin, UNBORN CHILDREN. Which group do you want to be celebrating with after November 8? Vote Trump, and get your friends and relatives to vote Trump!

  6. jnsesq says:

    It’s about time, you Democrat drone suicidal suckers. Maybe some blacks will finally catch on to the leftist con too.

  7. Dear Mishpacha,
    Just being older does not require your being dumber. I know Clinton lies. You know Clinton lies. She is on her side. Not your side or my side. Hers is a philosophy of greed, arrogance and power. If you can’t tell Trump is honest, or you think Israel does not matter to your kids and grand kids, go vote for her. If you’re lucky, you won’t be around to see the grief she will cause. If you don’t understand how important Israel is to us and the world, you might as well put your brain back in your tuchas.

  8. Hillary is the most corrupt woman in American history and has no business in Oval office! Period!

    1. I take exception to that statement… mostly the 6th word, it may not be accurate.

      1. Buzz says:

        The dems and liberals, especially the FemiNazis, just want a vagina in the WH…they do not care that it stinks like five day old rotten fish.

  9. Almost all if not all of the women who have come out with these stories about hot Trump supposedly groped them, etc., have been disproved. They were telling fibs to get their 15 minutes of fame. The last one has a sex toy website, for crying out loud.

  10. bob marsico says:

    you keep erasing my comment

    1. Dnn says:

      mine also, that is not uncommon if you support Trump.

  11. I. Phillip Cohen says:

    We all have a choice. Take life or take death. It is not that clear which is which among these two problem children. A possible hothead with his finger on the nuke button; or a proven liar with no morals to guide her other than to gain power for her own sake and that of her friends. It used to be that one could measure a person by their friends. Well, I do not see how that is working out so well in 2016. I voted for George McGovern and I also voted for LBJ. McGovern in his later years disavowed his liberal anti-business leaning once he became a capitalist. LBJ turned against his Southern views to enact the 1964 Voting Act.
    So when will truth, justice and honesty enter the politician’s vocabulary?
    Maybe just flip a coin and all will be well in Pax Americana


  12. Ron Hyatt says:

    Insanity is voting for the same old tired failed Democrat/Uniparty policies, and expecting a different outcome. OTHO, if you like the outcome, you should be taken out back and shot as a traitor.

  13. Larry Halpern says:

    Hillary has made no secret of her plans to import hundreds of thousands of , impossible to vet, people from Syria and to relocate them in communities around the country. Often without birth, education or employment records, it is impossible to accurately vet these people. But for some reason, the Democrats are tripping over themselves to put the will and safety of the American people unimportant. We are a nation of immigrants, but we have no obligation to accept anyone.

  14. I just left a comment in support of Trump, where is it?

    1. CBS, what s Shambolic organization. Fair & Balanced News eh?

    2. Robert Sticks says:

      I tried twice -I guess neither made it past the Clinton Broadcasting System censor

  15. itsy_bitsy says:

    Where is my comment? More corruption by democrat forces? Probably!

    1. Jerry Klinger says:

      Don;t feel bad. My reply did not make it either. I had to sign up for the blast emails and those are coming in fine. My polite disagreement reply must have been “left” out.

  16. Buzz says:

    Trump is the last hope to save this nation from the corrupt dems. VOTE TRUMP!

  17. Elmo Glick says:

    Interesting that nobody mentions Hillary’s history of antisemitic comments.

  18. Doug says:

    Hillary is a tool of the billionaire oligarchy who will lead the US into nuclear war over Syria.

  19. plaintruth says:

    vote the issues – not the candidates.
    Trump 2016

  20. Scott says:

    I left a long comment supporting Donald Trump, as an educated (post-graduate degree) and it never made it past the censors. Trump should be in the White House and Clinton (both) should be prosecuted.

  21. Betty rosss Ekmanian says:

    Trumps daughter is a convert to Judaism. She keeps a kosher home with her husband and kids. That’s enough for me to know Trumps views on Israel.

  22. Fred Smerdlap says:

    Let’s see–Trump said nasty things–Bill is a convicted rapist. Which one do we want back in the White House? Words vs. deeds, folks.

  23. TRUMP 2016,,,never Hillar Clinton

  24. Juanita says:

    I’m an independent for Trump in 2016.

    1. Juanita says:

      PS- I’m also a retired teacher…one of many who are leaving the Democratic Party because it is devoid of new ideas and, after reading all the WikiLeaks emails, seems to have reached a new low level of corruptness.

      1. jcIll says:

        So proud of you Juanita. So many teachers are tied to their unions and follow like sheep.

  25. CBS = Censorship Beloved Socialists. Nice how you can’t stand the truth so you censor.

  26. Joe says:

    CBS = Clinton Broadcasting Syster

  27. John W Kennedy says:

    Hillary’s campaign is now saying that you can’t trust Trump with his finger on the nuclear button, but that she’s safe because she’s too weak to press the button.

  28. Jake says:

    Latest news Hillary Foundation so corrupt

  29. Sean Connor says:

    When Mr Trump wins, i fear the riots will begin.

    1. jcIll says:

      Not for long! Trumpers are armed.