Steve Rabinowitz

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Steve Rabinowitz
Born January 17, 1957
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Occupation President, Bluelight Strategies,
Known for Political publicist
Political party Democratic

Steven M. Rabinowitz (born January 17, 1957) is a political image maker, media strategist, publicist, and event planner whose primary work is for progressive, Democratic, and Jewish causes. He is frequently quoted in US, Israeli, and Jewish news media,[1][2][3][4] and has had opinion pieces appear in numerous outlets. In 2004, the Jewish Forward named him among the 50 most influential Jews in America.[5]

A former Bill Clinton White House press aide, he founded Bluelight Strategies in late 2014 with Aaron Keyak, as a successor to Rabinowitz Communications and Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications.[6] The firm's clients include the Jewish Federations of North America, the Rabbinical Assembly, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Lantos Foundation and Israel member of Knesset Erel Margalit.[7]

At Bluelight, Rabinowitz was a founder of Jews for Progress, a pro-Israel super PAC to boost support for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among Jews in swing states. In 2012, Rabinowitz was instrumental in creating The Hub, which worked to ensure the Jewish vote for President Barack Obama's reelection.


Steve Rabinowitz, the only child of the late Dorothy and Harold Rabinowitz, grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He attended Tucson High School and the University of Arizona. He and his wife, Laurie Moskowitz, senior director for US campaigns at the ONE Campaign,[8] live in Washington, D.C., with their two sons, Jake and Sammy.[9]

Political career[edit]

Rabinowitz's political campaign work began in 1975-76 when at age 18 he was national youth coordinator for Democrat Mo Udall's presidential campaign.[10] He subsequently worked on the national staffs of the presidential campaigns of Jerry Brown, John Anderson, Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, Paul Simon, Michael Dukakis, Bob Kerrey, and Bill Clinton. He headed Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign press advance team,[11] During that campaign cycle, he became widely known as "the rabbi," a play on his last name, hosting the Yom Kippur break fast at his rented home in Little Rock, Arkansas.[12][13] Hillary Clinton credits Rabinowitz with coming up with the term Hillaryland.[14]

During the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign and working with his colleague Jeff Eller, Rabinowitz helped remake the classic political town hall meeting, routinely placing Clinton in the center of a "bowl" of seated voters, surrounded and tiered on at least three sides, while Eller worked with local television stations for live regional and even national broadcast, and Clinton left the stool in the center of the audience and engaged individual, unscripted questioners, regardless of where they sat or the camera angle it produced. The format has been replicated countless times.[15]

The White House[edit]

In 1993, Rabinowitz was named Bill Clinton's White House director of media planning, responsible for the visual images of the president's public appearances.[16] He helped produce the peace treaty signings between Israel and the Palestinians on the White House South Lawn in September 1993, and between Israel and Jordan in the Arava in October 1994.[17] Rabinowitz produced an East Room presidential signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), witnessed by three of Clinton's predecessors – Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Steve Rabinowitz with Presidents (left to right) Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton (White House photo/Robert McNeely)

Also in 1993, Rabinowitz organized and led the first White House Passover seder for 50 Clinton White House and Administration staff. The traditional event was held in the Indian Treaty Room and catered kosher.[18]

QRS NewMedia[edit]

QRS NewMedia, a company Rabinowitz co-founded with Laura Quinn and Mark Steitz, handled satellite feeds and radio actualities for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. Using technology that Rabinowitz brought to national politics for Bill Clinton in 1992, QRS added census data and Nielsen research on each of the nation's television stations to produce breakdowns of viewing audiences, providing campaigns and political strategists with detailed information, including demographics, lifestyles and family income, on who watches what news program.[19] QRS also has created high-tech media presentations for political, government and corporate entities, and consulted nearly every subsequent Democratic Party presidential nominee and convention since.[20]

Major Jewish/Pro-Israel Events[edit]

Rabinowitz helped organize a 2002 Israel rally in Washington, DC, on the West Front of the Capitol that drew an estimated crowd of 100,000[21] and the Israel@60 celebration on the National Mall in 2008.[22] The Israel@60 celebration featured a wide range of performers. Rabinowitz assisted with traditional advertising and guerilla marketing for the event, attracting 50,000-75,000 people.[23]

The Hub[edit]

During Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, Rabinowitz helped create the Jewish Media Hub (The Hub), a political nonprofit directed at boosting the incumbent president's standing among American Jews. Employing mico-targeting and micro-websites, as well as other media, the group focused on differentiating Obama from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, highlighting differences on Israel, how to approach Iran's nuclear program, women's reproductive rights, gay marriage, and other social issues.[24]

In 2014, Rabinowitz, Marc Stanley and Fran Katz Watson launched Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary to support a 2016 presidential run for Hillary Clinton in the Jewish community.[25]

In 2016, Rabinowitz helped kick off and run Jews for Progress, a political action committee created to defend Hillary Clinton and persuade Jewish voters in swing states to support her.[26] Employing tactics much like those used in The Hub, the No Nukes for Iran Project, which Rabinowitz advised and that supported the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran,[27] and Jews for Progress both used video, print, online and social media advertising and phones to target Jewish voters and influentials. In the case of Jews for Progress, polling showed a subsequent increase in the Jewish vote for Clinton over that for Barack Obama four years earlier, as all other Democratic Party base groups votes dropped.[28]

In addition to serving on the national staffs of nine presidential campaigns, Rabinowitz also was an informal adviser to the presidential campaigns of the Bill Clinton re-elect in 1996,[29] Al Gore in 2000,[30] John Kerry in 2004,[31] both Hillary Clinton campaigns (2008[32] and 2016[33]), and both Barack Obama campaigns (2008 and 2012[34]). He produced Al Gore's official announcement for president in his hometown of Carthage, Tennessee.[35] Among the many other campaigns on which he worked as a paid staffer were Jim Florio[36] and Peter Shapiro, both for governor of New Jersey, Carolyn Warner for governor of Arizona,[37] and Pat Leahy for re-election to the U.S. Senate from Vermont.[38] And, in 1980 Rabinowitz ran for office – unsuccessfully – seeking the school board in the Catalina Foothills School District in northern Tucson.[39]

Music Promoter[edit]

In the 1980s and between political campaigns, Rabinowitz worked as a music promoter in Tucson, Arizona, producing concerts, music festivals and shows, an extended play (EP) Rock & Roll record and a Country Punk cassette tape, as well as radio shows, all featuring local bands.[40][41][42]

And, in 1984, Universal Pictures hired a number of recent Gary Hart campaign staff – including Rabinowitz – to manage the openings of its controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ around the country. They coordinated local media coverage and worked with various theater management and local police to contain the protests; when protests began to wane, they worked to generate larger, media-enticing demonstrations.[43] Rabinowitz also organized the Washington premier of director Spike Lee's 1989 movie Do The Right Thing.

Board and Volunteer Service[edit]

Active at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., Rabinowitz is assistant treasurer, having served for years as vice president for membership and external affairs. He also is active in the synagogue's traditional egalitarian minyan.[44] In 2016, he and his wife were honored by the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, where he chaired the annual Rabin lecture for many years.[45] He has served on the executive committee of the National Jewish Democratic Council and of Avodah.


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  2. ^ Weiss, Philip (April 9, 2007). "AIPAC Alternative?". The Nation. 
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  4. ^ Kampeas, Ron (January 14, 2016). "Bernie Sanders surging in polls, but are Jews feeling 'the Bern'?". JTA. 
  5. ^ "The Forward 50: Lead Players on the Global Stage". November 12, 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  6. ^ Gray, Rosie (December 15, 2014). "New Jewish Progressive Firm Launches After Split". BuzzFeed. 
  7. ^ "Clients". Bluelight Strategies. Bluelight Strategies. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  8. ^ "ONE Taps Campaign Veteran Laurie Moskowitz to Lead U.S. Campaigns". One. One. 
  9. ^ Ross Joynt, Carol (January 27, 2014). "Sips & Suppers Created a Weekend of Feasting for Washington Foodies". Washingtonian. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  10. ^ Reilly, Robert (October 12, 1975). "U of A students earn class credits as Udall campaign aides in capital". Arizona Republic. 
  11. ^ Kelly, Michael (July 23, 1992). "A Photo Opportunity; Serendipity or Not, Truck Full of Spuds Becomes a Star". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Meissner, Steve. "Tucsonan expects offer of White House post". The Arizona Daily Star. 
  13. ^ Amann, Paula (July 22, 2004). "Packing his kippah". Washington Jewish Week. 
  14. ^ Berkofsky, Joe (June 10, 2003). "Jewish footnotes to Hillary's history". j. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Rabinowitz, Steve (July 12, 2017). "Did Trump and the GOP Kill the Political Town Hall Meeting?". The Hill. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  16. ^ Coile, Norma (1993). "Ex-Tucsonan gets role on Clinton staff". Tucson Citizen. 
  17. ^ Rabinowitz, Steve (September 30, 2012). "But I Never Wrote About It". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "Donald and Ivanka Trump Skip White House Seder". The Jerusalem Post. April 13, 2017. 
  19. ^ Lambrecht, Bill (October 25, 1996). "Parties Target Voters Via Local TV". St. Louis Post Dispatch. 
  20. ^ Amann, Paula (July 22, 2004). "Packing his kippah". Washington Jewish Week. 
  21. ^ Besser, James D. (April 19, 2002). "Pulling It Off: Pro-Israel Rally at Capitol". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  22. ^ Rabinowitz, Steve (September 30, 2012). "But I Never Wrote About It". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  23. ^ Tarlow, Naomi (June 13, 2008). ""Guerrilla marketing" boosts Israel 60 festival in D.C." JTA. 
  24. ^ Stanton, John (November 12, 2012). "A Low-Profile "Hub" for Jewish Democrats". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  25. ^ Guttman, Nathan (June 3, 2014). "Clinton Group Is Launched". The Forward. 
  26. ^ Nussbaum Cohen, Debra (July 28, 2016). "New Jewish PAC Aims to Burnish Hillary's pro-Israel Credentials". Haaretz. 
  27. ^ Elliott, Philip (August 20, 2015). "Jewish Leaders Urge Congress to OK Deal With Iran". Time. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  28. ^ Kornbluh, Jacob (November 10, 2016). "Jews Outperform Others in Democratic Party's Base". Jewish Insider. 
  29. ^ Gray, David (October 25, 1996). "Sultans of Spin". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  30. ^ Lorell, Mark (June 15, 1999). "Gore injects religion into campaign, sparking anxiety among some Jews". JTA. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  31. ^ Rabinowitz, Steve (September 30, 2012). "But I Never Wrote About It". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  32. ^ Kessler, E.J. (January 26, 2007). "Hillary the Favorite in Race for Jewish Donations". The Forward. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  33. ^ Kornbluh, Jacob (November 10, 2016). "Jews Outperform Others in Democratic Party's Base". Jewish Insider. 
  34. ^ Stanton, John (November 6, 2012). "A Low-Profile "Hub" For Jewish Democrats". BuzzFeed. 
  35. ^ Lorell, Mark (June 15, 1999). "Gore injects religion into campaign, sparking anxiety among some Jews". JTA. Retrieved 24 July 2017. 
  36. ^ "CAMPAIGN NOTES: ON JERSEY HUSTINGS, CANDIDATES SCRAMBLING FOR COVERAGE". New York Times. October 29, 1981. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  37. ^ Harris, Don (September 5, 1986). "Democrats sling (splat) mud in gubernatorial (splat!) race". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  38. ^ Sowers, Carol; Harris, Don; Charnock, Richard; Willey, Keven Ann (October 25, 1986). "Barr tilts cowboy hat above eyebrows, quips loss to Mecham". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  39. ^ Stone, Laura (October 30, 1980). "Furious or Folks, School-Board Race full of Variety". Arizona Daily Star. 
  40. ^ Armstrong, Gene (December 1, 1983). "Local Motion". Arizona Daily Wildcat. 
  41. ^ Schensul, Jill (November 26, 1983). "Country Punk Night bares other side of local musicians". The Arizona Daily Star. 
  42. ^ Zucker, Robert E. (2014). Entertaining Tucson Across the Decades" Volume 1: 1950s-1985 (First ed.). Tucson, Arizona: BZB Publishing. pp. 133, 147, 154, 243, 293. 
  43. ^ Lindlof, Thomas R. (2008). Hollywood Under Siege. University Press of Kentuck. pp. 234–. 
  44. ^ "Team Adas". Adas Israel. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  45. ^ "Meet the 2016 Purim Ball Honorees". Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital. Retrieved 28 March 2017.