A look at why some Jews love him and some don't trust him; and at the key role Chicago Jews played in getting him to where he is
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood (10/24/2008)
Abner Mikva, the former Chicago congressman, federal judge and White House counsel to President Bill Clinton, puts a 21st-century twist on the notion that Clinton was "the nation's first black president."
"I think when this is all over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president," he said.
Mikva, a powerful figure in local and national Democratic politics for decades, was one of Sen. Obama's early admirers, beginning in 1990 when he tried to hire the brilliant student and first black president of the Harvard Law Review for a coveted clerkship. (Obama turned him down, saying he was going to move to Chicago and run for public office. "I thought that showed a lot of chutzpah on his part," Mikva says with a laugh.)
Since then, Mikva's support for and nurturance of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has never wavered. He is one of many influential Chicago Jews who have been among Obama's earliest and most ardent backers.
One longtime Jewish observer of the political scene, who did not want to be identified, said admiringly that "Jews made him. Wherever you look, there is a Jewish presence."