WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has a suggestion for those who criticize his decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act: Read the Bible.
In a Q&A session hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, the presidential candidate talked up his willingness to do what he thinks is right, even if that put him at odds with members of his own party.
"You know how many people were yelling at me?" he said at the event, which was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "I go to events where people are yelling at me. You know what I tell them? I mean, God bless them, I'm telling them a little bit better than this."
"But I said, there's a book," he added. "It's got a new part and an old part. They put it together. It's a remarkable book. If you don't have one, I'll buy you one. And it talks about how we treat the poor."
Kasich entered the race in August by casting himself as a "compassionate conservative," touting his work expanding the safety net for low-income people and those who struggle with drug addictions. His focus on substance abuse has especially set him apart from his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.
Kasich's casual suggestion to follow the tenets of the Bible didn't sit well with some prominent conservatives, who object to expanding Medicaid because of fiscal concerns.
A blogger who goes by the name Allahpundit compared the comments to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) denouncing conservatives who opposed granting in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants.
And over on Breitbart News, John Nolte criticized Kasich for expanding an "already-deadly federal welfare state that destroys the human spirit, breaks up the family, and creates generational dependence."
Kasich has consistently defended his decision to expand Medicaid, calling opponents of the move "hard-hearted or cold-hearted." On Wednesday, he again explained he did so to aid "mentally ill and the drug-addicted and working poor to get on their feet."