(CNSNews.com) - The choice of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as Vice President Al Gore's running mate is a much-needed shot in the arm for New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, say many political observers.
Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate on a national ticket, will go a long way to bridge strained relations between Clinton and the important Jewish constituency in New York City and its suburbs.
Lieberman's choice "makes it more likely that [Jewish voters] will come out to support Hillary," said a longtime New York City GOP operative. "It's the best thing that's happened for Hillary in weeks."
"No doubt, we think [Lieberman] is a home run. We think it helps bring out core Democratic voters," said an aide to Adele Cohen, a New York state assemblywoman representing southern Brooklyn and Long Island.
Clinton's support among Jewish voters has been soft throughout the campaign because of her past support for a Palestinian state, as well as accusations that she called her husband's campaign manager a "f***ing Jew b***ard" during Bill Clinton's first bid for elective office in the 1970s.
Clinton was also criticized for remaining silent at a state dinner last year as Suha Arafat, the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, accused Israeli troops of murdering Palestinian children.
A July Gallup poll found Mrs. Clinton receiving 54 percent of the Jewish vote in New York, which generally comprises around 15 percent of the vote in statewide elections, or 6 to 7 million voters. That figure is well below the 60 to 70 percent mark winning Democratic candidates generally receive from Jewish voters in New York.
Jewish leaders were enthusiastic about the pick.
"It is a mark of maturity for American society that there are no barriers to an individual, regardless of race, color or creed. I think it's a great tribute to the success of the Jewish community in the United States, and I think it's a great tribute to the United States itself," Rabbi David Rosen of the Israel office of the Anti-Defamation League, told wire reporters.
Even Arab leaders have praised Lieberman's openness to dialogue in the Middle East.
"He's very open-minded, and he is willing to listen to both sides before reaching a conclusion," said Jim Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute in Washington.
On Saturday, however, Democratic National Committee chairman Ed Rendell raised questions about whether the nation was ready for a Jewish vice president.
"I don't think anyone can calculate the effect of having a Jew on the ticket," Rendell told reporters. "If Joe Lieberman was Episcopalian, I think he'd almost be a slam dunk."