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Sen. Ben Cardin is making his final surrogate appearance on behalf of Barack Obama tonight, debating the Republican governor of Hawaii at a synagogue in the swing state of Ohio.

Cardin's assignment -- convincing Jewish voters to support Obama -- is growing more challenging, however.

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The McCain campaign has stepped up its efforts to try to portray Obama as a friend of terrorists, and is now linking him to the PLO. It is a line of argument that could emperil Obama's support among Jewish voters.

Weeks after 1960s radical William Ayers of the Weather Underground was proclaimed by McCain allies to be an Obama "pal," the campaign is now pushing an association between Obama and Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian scholar who McCain says was once a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, though Khalidi has reportedly denied it.

The McCain campaign is pushing the Los Angeles Times (which, like the Baltimore Sun, is owned by Tribune Co.) to release a videotape of Obama at a dinner with Khalidi in 2003. The dinner was held as Khalidi was leaving Chicago for a job in New York. The tape was given to the paper on grounds that it not be distributed, an agreement the paper agreed to when it produced this article.

Many Jews harbor distrust of Obama, stemming in large part from viral e-mail messages that falsely claim he is a Muslim and does not support Israel.

Cardin, a prominent Jewish leader who has stumped for Obama in Florida and elsewhere, has no hesitatancy about Obama's commitment.

"Senator Obama is a long-time friend to both the Jewish community in this country and to our ally Israel," Cardin said in a release announcing his debate with Gov. Linda Lingle at Park Synagogue Main in Cleveland Heights. "I look forward to discussing with the community why Sen. Obama is the right man at the right point in history to be President of the United States."

The questions from Jewish voters in Ohio, however, could prove challenging.

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