Bernie Sanders has no problem calling attention to his Jewish heritage. Yet he rewrites that heritage in his first campaign ad of the 2016 presidential race, referring to his origins as “Polish.”
“The son of a Polish immigrant who grew up in a Brooklyn tenement. He went to public schools, then college where the work of his life began,” the ad narrates.
Sanders’s campaign plans to spend $2 million airing the ad in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the New York Times. Neither state has a major Jewish population–but neither state has a major Polish community, either.
National Public Radio notes that Sanders recently touted his Jewish heritage in reaching out to Muslim voters concerned about “Islamophobia.”
“Let me be very personal here if I might. I’m Jewish,” Sanders said in response to a young woman in a headscarf at an event in Washington. D.C. “My father’s family died in concentration camps. I will do everything that I can to rid this country of the ugly stain of racism which has existed for far too many years.”
And yet in reaching out to voters further afield, Sanders has substituted “Polish” for “Jewish.”
NPR’s Arnie Seipel attributes the switch to a conscious effort by the Sanders campaign: “Part of this ‘new phase’ for Sanders’ campaign could be creating a more three-dimensional image of the man,” he writes.