Many political pundits say that President Barack Obama has ignited the political fires of the American electorate in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades. Atlanta’s Eric Tanenblatt – one of Mitt Romney’s trusted advisors and his national finance co-chair – sees it differently: He believes that what the President has really ignited is dissatisfaction over his Administration’s failed economic policies.

Eric Tanenblatt, national finance co-chair for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, stands with the portrait of his mentor, the late Senator Paul Coverdell. PHOTO/courtesy McKenna, Aldridge & Long

Tanenblatt thinks that many voters, especially Jewish voters, are seriously considering switching political parties as the 2012 Presidential Election nears. To encourage the Jewish community to consider what the Republican Party has to offer, Tanenblatt shared the details of his successful life in politics and how he feels that Republican values will help save America.

Foundations for Political Passion

The political bug bit Tanenblatt at an early age. His paternal grandfather, a staunch Republican, was the first person to spark his interest.

“My grandfather talked to me like a grown-up all of the time about politics when I was young,” said Tanenblatt.

The family as a whole has embraced the core Republican value of business ownership for generations. By employing locals, the family business (founded at the beginning of the 20th century) strengthened the community and gave the entire family a sense of pride and achievement.

“My great-grandfather came to America during the early 1900s,” Tanenblatt said. “He built a company that made and sold paint brush handles to major bristle companies.”

After graduation from high school, Tanenblatt left his New York home to attend Emory University in 1984.

“Emory was a liberal college – like most colleges are – and my interactions with my more liberal classmates made me more firm in my conservative values,” he said.

To broaden his political education, Tanenblatt applied and was accepted into an intensive six-week program, called the Fund for American Studies, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Through this experience, he met President Ronal Reagan as well as young political neophytes like himself who, he says, were being trained to value and understand freedom and the free market economy.

Later, when Tanenblatt graduated from Emory in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he got serious about getting into politics. All he needed was someone to help mold his potential; luckily, he found role model in Paul Coverdell, the late senator.

“Senator Coverdell was a great man,” Tanenblatt said. “He taught me so much about integrity and how the government worked.”

Mentee met mentor after the former campaigned for George H.W. Bush; Tanenblatt was invited to Washington, D.C. to work in the Administration after Bush was elected, and was shortly after introduced to Coverdell, who was the director of the Peace Corps at the time. Tanenblatt credits Coverdell with helping him to form and focus his Republican values.

“He taught me the importance of the protection of liberty, belief in the individual and the free enterprise system,” said Tanenblatt.

Sadly, on July 19, 2000, Coverdell died of a brain aneurism. His wife Nancy gave Tanenblatt a picture of the late Senator.

“His picture hangs in my office. I think about him every day, [and] he inspires me every day,” said Tanenblatt.

Role in the Romney Campaign

Tanenblatt never could have imagined that his political background would put him in the midst of what he and many others predict will be the most important election of the 21st century. He believes that America’s future hinges on her fiscal situation and that adhering to the Republican value of being fiscally conservative will save the country from financial collapse.

He also thinks that it’s almost criminal that the federal government keeps raising the debt ceiling instead of trying to bring down the debt.

“State governments have to balance their budgets, so why isn’t the federal government trying to do the same thing?” Tanenblatt wondered rhetorically.

He is firm in his conviction that Mitt Romney is the candidate who can get the country back to a balanced budget. He knew this as early as last July, when he traveled to Israel with Romney.

“Romney has been negatively portrayed in the battleground states as something he really is not,” Tanenblatt said. “I have gotten to know him, and he’s a friend of Israel.”

Tanenblatt believes in Romney and is certain that those most central tenets of the Republican party – less government, belief in the free enterprise system and fiscal conservatism – will make America great. Although he is worried about the direction in which the Obama Administration is taking the country, he believes that his candidate will restore balance to the country if he becomes president.

And – little surprise here – he thinks Romney has an excellent chance of capturing the office.

Politically Connected

There is no doubt that the late Senator Coverdell would be proud of Tanenblatt, considered by many to be the most politically connected Jewish Republican in Georgia.

Besides working for both Bush senior and his son a decade later, Tanenblatt also worked as the Chief of Staff in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Administration. He’s been the senior managing director for Mckenna Long & Aldridge Law Firm since 2001, and he also leads the firm’s National Government Affairs Group.

Tanenblatt’s civic activities include being on the board of directors at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Buckhead Coalition, the Georgia Public Policy and the American Jewish Committee. He is also the co-chair of the fund of American Studies, a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and the founder of volunteer organization Hands-On Georgia.

Beyond his public life, Tanenblatt has two sons, both students at Pace Academy. The elder, Matthew, loves debating and is the president of his class and a varsity lacrosse player; the younger, Sammy, plays tennis and is a baritone in the pep band. He sees in them and their peers the leaders of tomorrow.

“The young generation has more at stake in the future,” Tanenblatt said. “It [the future] belongs to them. It’s important that we help keep the country exceptional for generations and generations to come.

BY TIFFANY PARKS / AJT CONTRIBUTOR

Editor’s note: Tiffany Parks is an English instructor at Gwinnett Technical College. She earned a master’s degree in English education at Georgia State University and enjoys writing.