Bill Clinton Won't Campaign for Obama Until After Jewish Holidays

On a previously recorded interview to air on CNN's "Larry King Live" tonight, former President Bill Clinton says he will wait until after Thursday, Oct. 9, before he will start campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Politico's Ben Smith reports.

What's the significance of Oct. 9?

Why, it's the Jewish Day of Atonement, of course.

And though the Southern Baptist former president isn't known for being a particularly devout Jew who observes the High Holy Days, apparently he's decided to wait until after Yom Kippur and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, before he starts campaigning for his wife's former rival, for whom many Democrats suspect the Clintons aren't exactly rooting enthusiastically.

"When [the Clinton Global Initiative] is over, and after the Jewish holidays, which follow close on it, I intend to go to Florida, to Ohio, to northeast Pennsylvania, and to Nevada at a minimum," says the former president. "I may do events in Arkansas, depending on what the Democratic Party does down there. And I've agreed to do some fundraising for them in California and New York."

Asked King: "Are you kind of feeling Jewish that you're waiting until after the Jewish holidays?"

"No. But I think it would be -- if we're trying to win in Florida, it may be that," Clinton began, before discussing his real Florida target: "You know, they think that, because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the 'cracker vote' there.

"But Sen. Obama also has a big stake in doing well in the Jewish community in Florida, where Hillary did very well and where I did very well. And I just think respecting the holidays is a good thing to do," he said.

- jpt

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