A top Jewish supporter of Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign said he came to admire the former Arkansas governor during a recent Marine Corps Marathon in Washington.
Dr. Jeffrey Ross, a Houston podiatrist and running enthusiast, said the event gave him a strong insight into the candidate’s character.
“Six months earlier I had read a story about how Huckabee, who had lost more than 100 pounds and was diagnosed with diabetes, had run his first marathon,” said Ross. “I was very interested in running with him because I really admired his story.”
Ross and Huckabee ran the grueling race together. “In the last 10 miles, we really helped each other along,” he said “When you run with somebody for over four hours, you really get to know who that
person is; you see him reach back to the inner self, you get to see where his strength and commitment are.”
Ross said he supports Huckabee because of the candidate’s “commitment to fighting adult and childhood obesity and his commitment to healthy living. He had his personal wake-up call; he is genuinely committed to being healthy.”
His personal qualities, too, will appeal to Jewish voters, he said.
“When people sit down and talk to Mike Huckabee, he comes across as just so logical, so reasonable, so in touch with the common man,” said Ross, who has been active with AIPAC, the Anti- Defamation League and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. “He grew up poor; as a result, he’s just a regular guy.”
He said the fact Huckabee is a former Baptist minister “came as a surprise” to him after the marathon, but that he doesn’t think Huckabee’s strong connections to conservative Christian groups will be a big turnoff for Jewish voters.
“Over the past few years, I’ve started to see how strong a commitment the Christians have to Israel,” he said. “That is very important to me.”
He said Huckabee has the longest-standing connection to the Jewish state of any of the 2008 candidates.
But he conceded that Huckabee faces a tough challenge “breaking through to Jewish voters who will be supportive of [former New York Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani,” he said. And Huckabee may face an even bigger problem breaking through to Jewish swing voters in what is expected to be a strong Democratic year.