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(NECN/CNN: Brianna Keilar) - "Welcome to the White House," said President Obama. "Thank you all for joining us tonight to celebrate Hanukkah."
A warm welcome for the president's Jewish supporters.
"This Hanukkah season we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart - even us Gentiles," said Obama.
These overtures are part of President Obama's strategy to shore up backing among Jewish American voters and stem the tide criticism he's getting from Republican presidential candidates.
They hammered Obama's stance on Israel one after another while addressing the Republican Jewish coalition this week. The criticism has been so persistent, even late night hosts are poking fun.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the first Jewish woman to represent Florida in Congress, is in Obama's corner.
"You know, unfortunately, for the Republicans, there isn't a single domestic policy issue that Republicans are right on when it comes to the Jewish community," said Wasserman Schultz. "So they have no other choice but to lie about the President's record on Israel, distort it."
The Obama campaign just hired a director of Jewish Outreach. The White House has a similar post, and this week, a pro-Obama PAC defended the President in a memo filled with praise from Israeli leaders.
The head of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee says Jews tend to concentrate in certain states, such as Florida, that are important to candidates.