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Jewish Vote Still Hil's
NEW YORK (The New York Daily News) -- An allegation that Hillary Rodham Clinton once used an anti-Semitic slur isn't costing her much, if any, Jewish support, but that could change if the accusation is ever proved.
That's the finding of a sampling of Jewish voters by the Daily News. Reporters fanned out across metropolitan New York to assess whether the allegation is having any impact on the Senate race.
Of the 119 people questioned, 21 (18%) said they believe the charge that the First Lady called a campaign aide a "Jew bastard" the night Bill Clinton lost a congressional race 26 years ago. Another 34 (29%) said they don't believe the charge. The rest said they aren't sure or do not care.
But the sampling indicated that the alleged remark, although 26 years old, still carries some potency and thus presents a potential hazard for the First Lady.
About one in five voters or 21% said they would be less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton if the allegation proved true. At least half of those voters are Clinton supporters or undecided.
With the battle between Republican Rep. Rick Lazio and Clinton so close, even a slight shift in attitudes could have major ramifications.
Randy Navo, a 48-year-old teacher from Great Neck, L.I., said she backs Clinton, but, "If it's proven to be true, I would have a hard time voting for her." Citing Clinton's controversial embrace of Yasser Arafat's wife last year, Navo added, "You know, it's three strikes and you're out."
Clinton supporter Misa Wanderman, 49, of Manhattan also said she would drop Clinton if the allegation proved true. "I wouldn't vote for anybody I thought was bigoted," she said.
"It's all hearsay," said Richard Kabakow, 40, a contractor and a Clinton supporter from Westbury, L.I. But, he added, "If you produced a tape recording [of the alleged slur], I wouldn't vote for her."
The Daily News survey found 50% backing Clinton, 27% supporting Lazio (R-Suffolk) and 23% undecided numbers roughly paralleling polls taken before the allegation surfaced last Friday in a book by a former National Enquirer reporter.
The results were not scientific, but they offer a broad window into the thinking of Jewish voters who make up about 13% of the electorate.
Nearly all those questioned by The News 93% said they were familiar with the allegation, which Clinton has called "absolutely false."
Many said they found it hard to believe the charge, however, because it doesn't fit their image of Clinton or because it surfaced during the campaign.
Sara Fine, 28, a software writer from Scarsdale, Westchester County, said, "If it were true, it would be very upsetting. But, I can't believe any of the information I hear about her now. It's silly. What [next]? She is from Mars, she had 12 kids and abandoned them in a project in the Bronx?'"
"It's all politics," said Marcia Stein, pushing a baby carriage along Avenue U in Brooklyn. "Leave her alone with this stuff. What does it have to do with being senator?"
Others said a statute of limitations applies. "I'm angry about kicking up a political fuss about something 26 years ago, which makes it meaningless. It's cheap-shot politics," said Murray Schechter, a retired ad man, in Mill Basin, Brooklyn.
Even a majority of the Lazio backers sampled said it would have nothing to do with their vote against Clinton.
"I am not pro- or anti-Hillary Clinton because she is pro-Jewish or anti-Jewish," said Jerry Flum, a 59-year-old Internet company president from Scarsdale. "She's not an ethical leader."
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