GOP disavows inflammatory e-mail to Jewish voters

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.

“Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008,” the e-mail reads. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”

A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was “Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA – Victory 2008.”

It warns “Fellow Jewish Voters” of the danger of a second Holocaust due to the threats to Israel from its neighbors and touts Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s qualifications over those of Obama.

State GOP officials disavowed the e-mail and said the strategist who helped draft it had been fired.

“The Republican Party of Pennsylvania did not authorize that e-mail,” Michael Barley, communications director for the state party, said Saturday evening.

Barley said a “correction” would be sent out to everyone who received it.

The e-mail was sent Thursday morning to 75,000 Jewish voters.

The McCain campaign also repudiated the e-mail. Spokesman Peter Feldman said Saturday night that McCain “rejects politics that degrade our civics.”

Political consultant Bryan Rudnick, identified as the strategist who helped write the message, was reached Saturday night and confirmed he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.

“I had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. “I’m not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I’m not naming names right now,” he said.

The e-mail also accuses Obama of teaching members of the community group ACORN “to commit voter registration fraud” during his years as a community activist.

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., said the e-mail was part of a “smear campaign” that was among the worst he had seen in his state.

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