Labor Party leaders phone home

Peretz, MKs call thousands of registered voters who didn't renew membership.

amir peretz biz 88 (photo credit: )
amir peretz biz 88
(photo credit: )
Labor Party candidates put their salesman skills to the test Wednesday as they rang in a new telemarketing drive to sway voters in the upcoming elections. Their sales skills varied as widely as their backgrounds, as Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz and candidates MKs Isaac Herzog, Yuli Tamir, Ophir Paz-Pines, and Ami Ayalon went through phone lists of party members who had not renewed their vote. "It's hard for us to understand," said Herzog. "When we go out in the field everyone says they support us. And today on the phones every person I spoke to said they will vote for us. And then we see the polls... The actual figures are going to be the Yom Kippur of poll takers." Those polls however, have continued to return disappointing results for Labor, as the latest showing saw the party drop to 16 mandates in the upcoming elections. Although officially, the candidates have expressed optimism over their position in the upcoming elections, several veteran members admitted that they were concerned that the Party would drop behind Likud. "Look people are starting to say that maybe now is the time when we switch tactics and position ourselves to be a strong member of the coalition instead of heading the coalition," said one Party official. "We just want to get as many mandates as possible." Other party members, however, said that such a tactic might discourage the current Labor supporters who still see the party as a contender of the prime ministers office. "People may have a problem with seeing Peretz as a prime minister," said one Labor official. "But they still want to see us act as strong leaders. We are afraid of losing our base of support. We are fighting for every mandate now." In order to get those mandates, some candidates used their time on the phones convincing voters that regardless of their feelings towards Peretz, the Labor Party presented a strong socio-economic platform. "Hello, this is Amir Peretz. You don't know it's me? Well, you can't see my mustache as well over the phone," said Peretz to one disbelieving woman. "You are Iraqi? My wife is Iraqi! Tell your friends that, get them all to vote for me, I love Iraqi women." Peretz notoriously jovial personality was in full swing as he walked among the phones and joked with voters. Others, however took their jobs more seriously and tried a variety of tactics on the undecided voters. Ayalon began offering voters rides to the polls while Tamir offered insider advice on financial assistance to schools. While Herzog raced through his list, and used his background as a lawyer to ask quick assertive questions, Paz-Pines spent nearly ten minutes itemizing the Labor Party's platform with one tireless voter. "I am exhausted - these people are tough," said Paz-Pines as he shuffled through the four ringing cell phones in front of him. "I got him though. So far everyone I talked to is voting for us." The more than 300,000 numbers on the phone lists had been compiled by Labor volunteers the week before. In the two weeks leading up to the elections, Labor officials said that volunteers would be pouring over the list to confirm that the voters came out in support of Labor.