That newly-minted Talmudic scholar, John Kasich, explained to a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews at a matzo factory last week that the paschal lamb of Passover portends Jesus.
"The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts (sic), the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It's his blood, we believe," JTA quoted the Ohio governor.
In another encounter, Rav Kasich asked who was the most important Jew. Moses, they said, because he gave the Torah and an identity to the Israelites. "What are you talking about? Get outta here," said Kasich, explaining the correct answer is Abraham because he made the covenant with God.
Kasich is running third, behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, for the GOP presidential nomination and has zero chance of winning on the first ballot. His hope and prayer is that the competition will badly damage each other and a brokered convention will turn to him as the compromise candidate.
He is not as obnoxiously preachy as Cruz invoking his religiosity, but he impressed no one in Brooklyn with his Biblical scholarship. Not when he tired to explain the meaning of the ending of the 23d Psalm, the story of Joseph in Genesis and Joshua to some yeshiva students.
He got quizzical but polite responses and encouragement when he said all the right things his Orthodox audiences wanted to hear about supporting Israel. He hewed faithfully to the AIPAC-Likud line.
About 20 percent of New York's voters are Jewish (they vote in higher percentages that nearly all other groups), so these photo ops are a big part of the campaign. Like rival Ted Cruz he also found time to bake some shmura matzos and sample a lot of deli foods. He had some chicken soup and kreplach, apple strudel and pickles but turned down the pastrami sandwich.
Cruz also baked some matzos with his haredi backers who were too polite say what most other New Yorkers were thinking: his use of the term "New York values" may have been an attempt to impress voters out in Iowa but in these parts it was an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
Kasich offered the usual pledges of fealty to Israel. But he wasn't as blatant as Mitt Romney four years ago when he said he would vet his Middle East policy decisions with the Israeli prime minister. But they came close.
Kasich said he is pessimistic about the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace and would steer clear unless both sides invited the United States to mediate. If they want a two-state solution, fine, but until then, let them "work it out amongst themselves." He has no intention of being neutral in that dispute, he declared, denouncing the Palestinian Authority's "culture of hate."
When I was the AIPAC legislative director and Kasich was a young congressman (he represented my family's district in Columbus, Ohio), he was very supportive of Israel and very helpful.
Like Hillary Clinton, he has said any disagreements between the two governments should be aired in private, not publicly as Barack Obama has often done. That may be much easier to do if he pursues a laissez-faire policy.
Kasich, born a Roman Catholic and now a practicing Anglican, wants to transform NATO into a "policing and intelligence organization" that will spread "Judeo-Christian values," he told the New York Daily News.
Kasich came to pander and he's leaving with heartburn.