Obama at AIPAC

There will probably be more said on this later but Barack Obama, fresh from clinching the Democratic nomination for president, spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Given all that has transpired with his controversial choices regarding his foreign policy advisors - well documented on the pages of AT - Obama definitely had some fence mending to do:

Hours after securing his party's nomination, Obama told 7,000 people gathered in Washington Wednesday that rumors and suggestions that he is unfriendly to Israel and to Jewish interests are unfounded.

He cited e-mails "filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president." Obama told the gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to "let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."

To applause, Obama said: "I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security."

Fine words - but he has said other things as well such as his willingness to talk to Iran without preconditons and a decidedly pro-Palestinian tilt on the settlement issue. American Jews are watching and listening to Obama very closely - perhaps closer than they have ever listened to a Democratic candidate for president.

American Jews go overwhelmingly for Democrats in elections. But if John McCain can cut significantly into that monolith, it is possible that several states could fall into his lap as a result of the Jewish vote being crucial to the outcome.

Obama has been fiercely criticized for his choice of advisors. But ultimately, it will be what the candidate himself says that will make the difference.