BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Republican presidential candidate John Kasich toured a matzo bakery and perused Jewish literature in Brooklyn today as he courted the Jewish vote a week before New York’s Republican primary and 10 days before the start of the Jewish holiday Passover.
The Ohio governor chatted about his favorite Biblical figures -- Joseph and Joshua are at the top of his list -- and delivered an impromptu speech on a sidewalk in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, home to a large Orthodox Jewish population, about Judaism's strengths and its links to his faith, Christianity.
Kasich, who grew up Catholic and now worships at an Anglican church, told reporters and a coterie of Jewish men and boys who had assembled around him that the story of Passover reminded him of Jesus Christ. In the story, the ancient Israelites put lamb blood on their door posts to signal to the Angel of Death to pass over their homes, sparing them tragedy, an action he said reminded him of Christianity.
“Jesus Christ is known as the 'Lamb of God,'” he said. “It’s his blood that we believe...."
The loud rush of a subway train cut him off. “Somebody’s not allowing me to give a Bible lesson,” he joked.
Kasich has been campaigning heavily in New York over the past week and has said he hopes to win delegates in the populous state. His campaign, though, has admitted he probably will not come in first here, as front-runner Donald Trump commands a major lead in recent polls.
Kasich’s attempt to court New York City’s sizable Jewish community comes after his opponent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) toured another matzo bakery in Brooklyn last week. Matzo is eaten during Passover.
Kasich also visited a store selling Jewish books and other goods, where he engaged in a debate about whether Abraham or Moses was the most admired figure in the Old Testament.
And he stopped at a nearby Jewish school for young children with autism, where some very excited young boys presented him with a drawing of the White House. One asked him how many votes he had won so far.
“Not enough,” Kasich, who has received millions of votes fewer than his remaining rivals, said to laughter. “Can you help me out?”
He was mobbed by onlookers as he walked out of the school. “God bless you,” he said. “Pray for me, will you?”