Aftermath: Romney’s Top Jewish Adviser Tevi Troy Looks Back and Ahead (INTERVIEW)

November 9, 2012 5:37 pm 3 comments

Tevi Troy.

Hamodia (US) — Went went wrong with Mitt Romney’s campaign?  Even more importantly, what does it mean for the future?

To find out, I spoke with the most senior orthodox Jew in the Romney camp – Tevi Troy, PhD.  In addition to policy issues, Troy advised the campaign on Jewish outreach.  In the Bush administration, Troy served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  He was one of the highest ranking Orthodox Jews in the federal government.

Troy is a true believer in Mitt Romney.  He signed up with Romney in August of last year when Romney was just one of several GOP contenders.

“I liked Romney’s smarts and his experience,” recalls Troy.  “He clearly knew how to handle himself.”

His main role was a policy advisor and campaign surrogate in media interviews. Troy also quietly led one of the policy teams planning a possible transition to the presidency.

The presidential transition never came to be.

Werth: You put in a lot of effort and time over the past year for Romney.  What was your reaction when he lost the election?

Troy: Disappointment but not surprise, I saw the writing on the wall a week ago, after the superstorm stopped Romney’s forward momentum.

Werth: Before the storm, it seemed like Romney could win. What went wrong?

Troy: No one thing went wrong.  Romney was a good candidate.  He did well in the debates.  I’m confident he did better against President Obama than any of the other GOP candidates would have done.  It just was not meant to be this year.

Werth: You say it wasn’t meant to be.  Judaism recognizes that God determines who governs a country. Why do you think God is giving Obama another four years?

Troy: God helps those who help themselves.  It is up to us to make things happen, using the gifts that He has given us.  The GOP just couldn’t make it happen this year. Let’s leave it at that.

Werth: Let’s talk about the GOP.  What can Republicans learn from 2012?  How can the next GOP candidate increase their chances of winning?

Troy: The GOP needs to do a better job of competing across demographic groups.  Hispanics are a growing part of the electorate — increasing by 25% since 08, from 8 to 10 percent of voters — and Obama dominated in that category.  Similarly, women were 53% of the electorate, and Obama won them as well.  We need to expand our appeal beyond the white male base of support.

Werth: Any ideas on how to do that?

Troy: Still processing the loss from last night, but I will be working on it.  Watch my writing in the months ahead.

Werth: Did you see a weakness in Romney’s campaign organization?
Troy: The Romney campaign was a good operation.  It was 80-100 smart and committed folks against Obama’s 700 person Chicago behemoth.  It was an uphill battle, but I am proud of the work they did.

Werth: Sheldon Adelson – the wealthiest Jew in the world – gave tens of millions to political advocacy groups to help Romney win.  What impact did it have?

Troy: Obviously, not enough.

Werth: Critics of Adelson say something should be done to stop this kind of influence in the future.

Troy: The same people who say it’s terrible that Adelson spent so much, say it’s good when [liberal billionaire] George Soros does it. I don’t have a problem if someone wants to spend their own money helping a candidate. That’s the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The funding of political advocacy groups helps the GOP counter-act the influence of the unions for the Democrats.

Werth: Let’s turn to the role of Jewish voters.  How did their support of Romney compare to previous presidential elections?

Troy: We actually did pretty well in the Jewish vote, one of the few demographics in which we increased our numbers.  McCain got 22% of the Jewish vote, while Romney got 32%.   This is the first time in any presidential election since 1960 that the GOP got over 30% of the Jewish and still lost.  The other three times were all GOP victories: 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Werth: What accounts for the increase in Jewish support for Romney?

Troy: Part of it is Jewish discomfort with Obama on Israel.  But that by itself is not enough.  Jews also need to be comfortable with the alternative, and Romney was an acceptable alternative for those Jews willing to desert their traditional Democratic home.

Werth: Still, seven out of ten Jews voted for Obama.  This was so despite all the public criticism of Obama regarding his approach to Israel.  The Republican Jewish Coalition also waged a clever media campaign to shift their vote.  Given this, why did so many Jews continue to support Obama?

Troy: American Jews are quite liberal, and GOP strategists need to keep that in mind.  Nobody is talking about a majority of Jews going for the Republicans in any realistic near future.  The key is to minimize the Democratic margin among the Jews, and Romney was able to do that.  As for why Jews are so liberal, whole books have been written on the subject.

Werth: During the campaign, Obama said in very strong language that he was committed to protecting Israel. He has also back-tracked on controversial stands, such as suggesting Israel return to 1967 borders.  Has Obama really [come around on Israel?]

Troy: It’s a good question. He was very tough towards Israel during the first three years of his term, then softer this year.  It could be full teshuvah (repentance) — or it could be election year politics.  The question is: Will he revert?

Werth: Now Obama doesn’t have to worry about a re-election.  Are you concerned he might revert to being tough on Israel?

Troy: Yes, Obama is not anchored to Israel in a way that makes me feel comfortable.  I don’t agree that he is “anti-Israel.”  Obama has a coldness towards Israel that we didn’t see in the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Werth: Why do you think that’s the case?

Troy: Growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii, he didn’t hear much about Israel.  When he moved to the Chicago area, the Jews he knew were often critical of Israel.

Werth: Besides Obama, who was the biggest winner in the election?
Troy: Liberals won big.  New Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin will compete with each other for the title of most liberal Senator.  Also, the politics of division won, as candidates can see that they can attack the other guy and win, even if they don’t have an agenda of their own.

Werth: The GOP aside, who lost the most in the election?
Troy: Israel is a big loser.  We can handle defeat here in the US, but Israel lives in a much tougher neighborhood.

A version of this interview originally appeared in the US edition of Hamodia.

3 Comments

  • Intersting and informative. Some of the resposes are, however, a bit too snarky for my taste. Perhaps it’ts just too close to the election.

  • Robert M Soran-Schwartz

    Don’t need to read the rest. Just ask yourself why the attribute “Jewish” makes it to the headline in a country the Jews are less than the range of error in polls?

  • A very nice interview, I must say. Smart, thoughtful questions, and equally smart, thoughtful replies. Mr. Tevi Troy exudes intelligence.(By the way, I am a Democrat!)
    Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.