Even when the gubernatorial election was just two days away, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger found time to talk to a large group of senior citizens at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.
After arriving nearly an hour late, the governor was met with applause and a few cries of "Arnold!" Along with his wife, Maria Shriver, the governor stopped to shake hands on the way to the microphone. Perfectly coiffed and sporting a suit with no tie, the governor seemed relaxed, if rushed, as he told the crowd that he had attended a memorial for the five firefighters killed in the Esperanza fire. Towering over a sea of seated white heads as he spoke, Schwarzenegger recapped his first term in office, talked about the economy and briefly derided the federal government: "They're all fighting, the Democrats and Republicans, but in Sacramento we all get along now."
He made a special attempt to bond with his audience as well, reminding them that he was an immigrant to the United States, and that all his successes were due to his move to California. As usual, he found time to mention his past as a Hollywood star, though he refrained from quoting any of his movies. At one point, he did mention Sugar Ray Robinson, a former middleweight boxing champion, as a mentor who gave him $500 at the beginning of his career. Though he talked at length about his own experiences as an immigrant, he never discussed any current immigration issues.
Schwarzenegger also reminded everyone that his first visit outside the country as governor had been to Israel, and that he had attended the pro-Israel rallies, which was met with more applause.
Shriver also spoke, saying that she had been to the Jewish Home on five or six occasions, and that she had brought her children's schools there on field trips.
The two held a brief Q-and-A session after the 15-minute talk, fielding questions about social security, which the governor said was a matter for the federal government.
As the governor and the first lady exited the room they were besieged by photographers and fans.
The Jewish Home's residents voiced varying opinions. Tauba Grischkan, an immigrant who came to the U.S. from Lithuania shortly after World War II expressed satisfaction with Schwarzenegger.
"I like him," she said. "He's a good man."
Mort Symans, another resident, had some reservations about Schwarzenegger.
"He said some wonderful things, but the only problem is, he is a Republican talking like a Democrat," Symans noted. "He has a Republican ideology and he's trying to talk with the mouth of a Democrat."
-- Alex Collins-Shotwell, Contributing Writer
California Republicans Report Ads Drew New Members
Three hundred new members joined the California Republican Jewish Coalition in September and October, the largest two-month gain in the group's history, according to Larry Greenfield the group's director. Membership is now nearly 7,500 members, up from 2,000 just two and a half years ago, Greenfield said.
The membership boost came on the heels of 11 national RJC ads that argued that Democratic support for Israel is weakening. One ad, which ran in The Jewish Journal, suggested that Ned Lamont's Connecticut primary victory over Sen. Joseph Lieberman reflected a Democratic shift away from the party's historically strong support of the Jewish state. Another ad spotlighted a number of opinion polls, including one from the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg, which found Republicans more sympathetic toward Israel than Democrats.
The RJC spots have "generated a tremendous response for our organization," said Greenfield, who, along with RJC California Chair Joel Geiderman, served among Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's statewide re-election campaign co-chairs.
Howard Welinsky, chair of Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, and other Democratic leaders have denounced the RJC's ad campaign for distorting strong Democratic support for the Jewish state and for undermining bipartisanship.
The ads notwithstanding, Welinsky believes that the overwhelmingly majority of Jews have and will continue to vote Democratic, because "the values and convictions of the Democratic Party and American Jews are very much in sync." -- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer
Suit: Gun Shop Mishandled Shooter
A gun shop did not adequately vet a white supremacist jailed for life after a shooting attack on the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, a lawsuit contends. The family of Joseph Ileto, a Philippine-born postal worker shot dead by Buford Furrow shortly after Furrow's 1999 attack on the JCC filed a wrongful death suit Thursday against the Loaner Too pawn shop in Seattle.
The family's lawyer, Mike Withey, contends that the shop failed to require Furrow to fill out a federal form that would have disqualified him from purchasing a pistol because he was a convicted felon who had spent time in a mental institution.
Three children, a receptionist and a teenage counselor were injured in Furrow's shooting attack on the center. Withey also filed a $15 million claim in August on behalf of families of five children injured or traumatized in the attack against the Washington state corrections authority, which was supervising Burrow at the time.
-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency