Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he’ll steer clear of the American presidential election, but he stars in a new ad set to air in the key battleground state of Florida that aims to make Iran a major campaign issue.
Netanyahu, who has a famously frosty relationship with President Obama, mentions neither Obama nor Republican challenger Mitt Romney, with whom Netanyahu worked in the mid-1970s at Boston Consulting Group. His words are taken from a recent news conference, in which he expressed frustration at the Obama administration’s failure to establish “red lines” for reining in Iran and its rogue nuclear weapons program.
"The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear bomb,” Netanyahu says. “The world tells Israel, wait, there's still time. And I say wait for what? Wait until when?"
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A voice-over at the end of the ad underscores the prime minister's message: "The world needs American strength, not apologies."
The ad, paid for by nonprofit conservative advocacy group Secure America Now, could have a powerful influence in heavily-Jewish markets, including Miami. Florida is considered a toss-up in recent polling, and its 29 electoral votes could swing the election.
“Sizable majorities in both states believe that Iran will share nuclear weapons with terrorists,” said Jeri Thompson, advisory board member for Secure America Now. “Support for Israel remains strong. In short, (Netanyahu's) a powerful messenger with a powerful message who the American people believe.”
The ad, reportedly to air in Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, is costing Secure America $1 million, the organization confirmed to Fox News.
A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows Obama leading Romney, 49 percent to 44 percent, in Florida.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported that the Republican Jewish Coalition has launched a separate $5 million TV advertising blitz aimed at Jewish voters in swing states. That campaign started Wednesday and runs through Nov. 5 in cable and broadcast TV markets in Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"This ad highlights the 'buyer's remorse' felt by many in the Jewish community, who voted for Obama four years ago but are now disillusioned with his economic policies and his policies toward Israel,” the coalition's executive director, Matt Brooks, said in a written statement Wednesday. “These ads, and the stories of the people in them, give voice to the nagging doubts that many Jewish voters feel about President Obama. To underscore that point, numerous polls have shown an erosion in Jewish support for the president."
Netanyahu also made an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday, urging Obama to take a tougher line with Iran over its nuclear program.
"President Obama has said that he is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," he said on the Sunday morning show. "If you're determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it means you'll act before they get nuclear weapons."