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Rand Paul courts Jewish leaders

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Continuing his outreach to the Jewish community, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul held a private conference call this week with about 80 Jewish leaders from across the country, The Daily Caller has learned.

The purpose of the Tuesday night call was for these leaders — many of them rabbis — to learn more about the Republican lawmaker, who is openly considering a run for president in 2016.

“There were people on the call from many states — Jewish leaders from various institutions and communities around the country,” Rabbi Nate Segal of New York told TheDC in a phone interview, “and that was what was beautiful about it.”

Segal said the Jewish leaders on the call represented 31 different states and congregations totaling an estimated half a million Jews. The outreach is notable because some American supporters of Israel — skeptical of Paul’s libertarian foreign policy views — have attacked the Republican lawmaker in the past.

Paul took about eight or nine questions and discussed his foreign policy views on Iran, Israel and Egypt. Segal said Paul was questioned about how, as a libertarian Republican, he feels about foreign aid.

He was also asked about domestic issues like school choice, and took questions about mentors and writers who have influenced him.

“The response afterwards was very positive,” Segal said. “Everybody felt that the senator was honest and didn’t just say what the Jewish community would want to hear, but said what he feels. And that was very important and that was very well received.”

The conference call was organized by Dr. Richard Roberts, a prominent figure in the Jewish community who sponsored Paul’s trip to Israel in January.

“Many people had heard about his relationship with the senator and had said that they would like very much to have an opportunity to speak to the senator: unfiltered access and the ability to ask questions on foreign policy, domestic, whatever it may be,” Segal said.

By the end of the call, Segal said many people “felt comfortable” with the senator.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the senator, to hear his opinions, not just quick sound bites, but lengthy answers, serious answers,” he said.

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