Newt Gingrich has unveiled another line of attack in Florida — accusing Mitt Romney of having deprived elderly Jewish Massachusetts residents of kosher food. Politico reports:
“He eliminated serving kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under [Medicaid],” Gingrich said. “I did not know this; it just came out yesterday. The more we dig in, I understand why George Soros in Europe yesterday said it makes no difference if it’s Romney or Obama, we can live with either one.”
Unfortunately, as a blog post at Commentary points out, this is a blatant distortion of the facts. In 2003, amid a budget crisis and rapidly rising Medicare costs, several nursing homes in Massachusetts considered cutting costs by closing their kosher kitchens and instead providing catered or prepackaged kosher food. The state legislature proposed an additional $600,000 in spending to prevent this from happening, but Romney vetoed it, due to state budget constraints. The legislature, as was their wont, overrode him anyway, and the kitchens, let along the kosher food supply, were never cut. In no sense could Romney be said to have tried to “eliminate” kosher meals or their funding.
But, despite the inaccuracy of the claims, Gingrich has now raised the stakes with his campaign robo-call across Florida that claims as follows:
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney vetoed a bill paying for kosher food for our seniors in nursing homes. Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney’s compassion for our seniors? Tuesday you can end Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy on religious freedom, with a vote for Newt Gingrich. Paid for by Newt 2012.
On another occasion, Newt prefaced this jab with a discussion of President Obama’s anti-religious policies, pledging to repeal any religiously discriminatory laws with an executive order on his first day in office. He also claimed, incorrectly, that Romney “imposed on Catholic hospitals provisions against their religious strictures.”
Citing these combined grievances, Gingrich argued that Romney “has no understanding of the importance of conscience and no understanding of the importance of religious liberty in this country.”