Injecting himself directly into the presidential campaign and speaking before one of its most crucial constituencies, Jewish voters, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday morning forcefully rejected what he called a “whisper campaign” in the Jewish community linking Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to Islam.

Mr. Bloomberg, who has been occasionally mentioned as a potential running mate for both Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain, the presumtive Republican nominee, told an audience of Jewish residents here that rumors that Mr. Obama is a Muslim represent “wedge politics at its worst, and we have to reject it loudly, clearly and unequivocally.”

He added, “Let’s call those rumors what they are: lies.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who is Jewish, said the worries about the faith of Mr. Obama, who is Christian, “are cloaked in concern for Israel, but the real concern is about partisan politics.”

“Israel is just being used as a pawn, which is not that surprising, since some people are willing to stop to any level to win an election.”

Mr. Bloomberg spoke at a breakfast meeting before the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, which was founded in 1979 and has its headquarters in Boca Raton. (MORE)


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