POLITICS

Dov Hikind, New York Democratic Legislator, To Campaign For Mitt Romney

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind speaks at a press conference with American and Isra
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 20: Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind speaks at a press conference with American and Israeli Jewish leaders and supporters of Israel in the Great Room at the W Hotel Union Square, where Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry attacked President Barack Obama's foreign policy, on September 20, 2011 in New York City. Perry, who's leading polls for the GOP presidential nomination, condemned the Palestinian Authority's effort to seek recognition by the United Nations and blamed Obama's policy of 'moral equivalency' for emboldening them. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- With attention on Florida for Monday night's presidential debate, campaign surrogates are stumping for their party's candidate. But an exception to the party line is New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), a prominent figure in the Orthodox Jewish community in New York who will travel to Florida later this week to help Mitt Romney, according to the New York Observer.

The paper cites the Jewish political blog Gestetner Updates which quotes an aide for Hikind as saying the politician will rally South Florida Jewish voters to support Romney.

Hikind said he believes that the U.S. under President Barack Obama has not been strong enough in supporting Israel in the face of the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama and predecessor George W. Bush, in conjunction with Congress and the European Union, have put in place strong sanctions on Iran and its economy in an attempt to change Tehran's nuclear calculus.

"Israel is under the gun. Israel is the target of Iran. Israel's existence is being threatened. And Obama doesn't have time to meet with the Israeli PM? It's insulting. It's degrading. This president scares me," Hikind said in September, according to the New York Post. "I'm a Democrat, but not a knee-jerk Democrat. I'm only loyal to America and the survival of Israel."

In September's Democratic Primary, Hikind, a 30-year incumbent, easily beat a 20-year old Brooklyn political novice, Moshe Tischler. He does not face a Republican challenger in November, but Tischler remains on the ballot as the nominee of an independent party in the Borough Park-based district.

This is not the first time that Hikind has crossed party lines to help a Republican. In 2008, he endorsed Sen. John McCain's presidential candidacy.

Follow Daniel Lippman on Twitter @dlippman

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