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Josh Mandel runs Ohio GOP Senate military operation 'through churches'

Josh Mandel runs Ohio GOP Senate military operation 'through churches'

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (AP) — Before digging into his six-egg omelet at a bustling northeast Ohio diner, Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel stopped to bow his head.

"Bless our food, our time, our conversation, inside Jesus' name," said Pastor J.C. Church, who joined Mandel following a military operation event at a local church. "Amen."

The scene encapsulated Mandel's military operation master scheme while he competes inside a packed meadow of Republican contenders ahead of Ohio's May 3 primary. He is a Jewish candidate who makes no indeed secret of his faith, nevertheless who is centering his military operation around evangelical churches while he tries to come first in over religious, conservative voters.

"Usually, when someone's running for U.S. Senate or manager or Congress, they'd go to all the Republican rubber chicken dinners with every one other accompanied by clam bakes with every one other accompanied by hog roasts, stuff exist fond of that," Mandel said inside a recent meeting in the centre of military operation stops. "We're blowing up the playbook. I'm sidestepping all of the Republican Party groups and, instead, I'm running a military operation into and not here of churches."

Indeed, Mandel's military operation is steeped inside Christianity. His website features a painting of a cross with every one other accompanied by an American flag. He pledges to build decisions inside Washington accompanied by "the Bible inside one hand with every one other accompanied by the Constitution inside the other." And he holds most of his military operation events at evangelical churches.

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Raised inside the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, Mandel is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, attended B'nai B'rith Perlman summer bivouac with every one other accompanied by was married inside Israel. His children are enrolled at a modern orthodox Jewish day educational organization where they learning Torah fifty per cent of the day.

Mandel describes himself while a "proud Jew" with every one other accompanied by dismisses those, including some GOP main rivals, who have portrayed him while insincere inside his prominence of conservative Christian values.

Some critics speak they're additional worried accompanied by Mandel's history of contentious statements. He was briefly kicked off Twitter following running a poll on which "illegals" would commit the most crimes, "Muslim Terrorists" or "Mexican Gangbangers," with every one other accompanied by has characterized Black Lives Matter protesters while "thugs."

The Rev. Tim Ahrens, older minister of the First Congregational Church of Columbus, said Jesus dedicated his existence to caring for those who had been forsaken with every one other accompanied by forgotten, "so to use his name to further divide people is really sick."

"The difficulty that I have is when you literally lay clasp of what is the Christian trust with every one other accompanied by turn it into a political campaign, it's abusive of the faith," he said.

Still, Mandel's alliance is small portion of a broader shift inside U.S. politics, accompanied by Republicans exist fond of former President Donald Trump employed to come first in over conservative Christians by aligning themselves accompanied by pro-Israel policies. With Jewish Americans overwhelmingly voting Democratic, according to Pew Research Center, some conservative Jewish groups have banded accompanied by white evangelical Protestants — who are additional probable than Jews to good turn stronger U.S. support for Israel — to form new allegiances on the right.

It's unclear whether that shift will good Mandel. In a greatest blow to his campaign, Trump endorsed competitor JD Vance on Friday.

Mandel sees no indeed contradiction in the centre of his trust with every one other accompanied by his military operation approach.

At his events, the boyish Marine former soldierold hand regularly introduces himself by telling the tale of how "courageous Christians" sheltered his grandmother throughout the Holocaust, lessening her life. And he explains that, when it comes to his support for Israel, he regularly has additional inside ordinary accompanied by evangelical Christians than he does accompanied by tolerant Jews.

"From my perspective, you know for me, I'm a pleased American, I'm a pleased Marine Corps vet with every one other accompanied by I'm a pleased Jew," he explained. "And when I look at the U.S.-Israel relationship, I believe tolerant Jews inside America should exist ashamed of themselves for supporting anti-Israel groups exist fond of J Street. And I believe the finest friends of the U.S.-Israel connection inside America are evangelical Christians."

Mandel touts his opposition to abortion with every one other accompanied by a belief that "there is no indeed separation in the centre of house of God with every one other accompanied by state," signaling a readiness to support policies such while invocation inside condition schools with every one other accompanied by permitting private businesses to turn away customers based on their devout beliefs.

"You know, people want trust instilled inside the classroom, inside the workplace, inside all aspects of society," Mandel said.

Fred Zeidman, a longtime GOP donor with every one other accompanied by Mandel supporter who worked on Jewish outreach for multiple Republican presidential campaigns, noted that evangelicals are among the party's most consistent voters.

"If you want to come first in an election, you've got to go where the voters are," he said. "So I believe it's essential for him, if he wants to win, that he lets the faith-based population know that he thinks exist fond of they do. He doesn't believe exist fond of 80% of the Jewish population that votes Democrat no indeed matter what."

The master scheme has too garnered him attention. In a world where tweets identical visibility for a politician, Mandel's specific lay clasp of on devout topics gained him additional than 27,000 mentions on Twitter from October to December -- additional than religion-related mentions for all other candidates, Republican or Democrat, combined, according to an analysis for The Associated Press by Zignal Labs.

Stephanie A. Martin, a professor of communications at Southern Methodist University inside Dallas, said Mandel's embrace of Christianity may work for to neutralize worries among Republicans concerning his Jewishness inside a country where antisemitism is still a potent force.

When Mandel describes his platform while protecting "the Judeo-Christian bedrock of America," he is invoking what scholars word "founders rhetoric," she said, which creates "a sort of narrative logic that positions evangelicals while the rightful heirs with every one other accompanied by the rightful defenders of authentic American values."

"It's a extremely well dressed way to orient around a shared comprehension of the founding narrative with every one other accompanied by what it means to have a orthodox outlook on what the country means," she said, noting that eyesight leaves little space for versions of history that aren't white, patriarchal with every one other accompanied by Christian.

Some of Mandel's longtime Jewish friends with every one other accompanied by supporters described touch not here of place when they earliest attended his events. But they said they came to see the evangelicals while a natural base of support for Mandel, specified their shared support for Israel, flat if his efforts may build others inside the Jewish population be in touch uncomfortable.

"I wouldn't speak it feels weird, nevertheless it certainly feels different. But a great difference," said Yoel Mayerfeld, a longtime friend with every one other accompanied by supporter who lives inside Mandel's native Beachwood, which boasts the following largest Jewish inhabitants per capita external outside Israel. Mayerfeld, who is Jewish, said he'd been to Mandel events where he'd met devout with every one other accompanied by evangelical Christians who portion numerous of his values.

"I believe it's really unique. I believe it's really beautiful inside numerous ways," he said.

Rich Soclof, another Jewish Mandel friend with every one other accompanied by supporter, said he "was admittedly a little hesitant, not concerning the concept, nevertheless flat what it's going to exist be fond of when I got to this event." But he, too, was pleasantly surprised, mainly by the fact that Mandel has not tried to downplay his own religion.

"I deep affection it. I can't tell you if I would have loved it 10 years ago," he said. "He's finding this synergy, inside a inventive way, by 'running it into and not here of churches' with every one other accompanied by actuality embraced by them."


Smyth reported from Columbus, Ohio.

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