BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former President Clinton (search) reassured Jewish voters in a synagogue Tuesday that as president, John Kerry would protect their interests in Israel by maintaining a record he established throughout his career in the Senate.
"These last four years have not only been difficult for America, they have been difficult for Israel," Clinton said. "There is no doubt in my mind that his commitment to the security of Israel ... would be unshakable."
Clinton did not blame President Bush (search) for increased violence in Israel but said a strong U.S. leader was necessary to help that country again find "a partner for peace" among the Palestinians.
"This is an uncertain time for the Israelis because in 2000 they found they did not have a partner for peace, and then we had the intifada and all of the violence," he said.
President Bush and Kerry have similar positions on Israel. Neither opposes Israel's plans for a 425-mile barrier in the West Bank, designed to keep Palestinian terrorists out of Israel, and both are critical of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat (search). Bush and Sharon have refused to deal with him.
With an estimated 500,000 Jewish voters, Florida is home to one of the nation's largest Jewish communities. Most are concentrated in South Florida's Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Clinton was making the second of two Florida appearances for Kerry less than two months after having heart bypass surgery.
Candidates and their surrogates, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.; New York City's Republican former Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Republican Senate contender Mel Martinez have made frequent stops at synagogues in the area.