Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) made a campaign stop at P.J. Bernstein, a kosher-style deli on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, on Saturday and the result was classic Kasich, in all of his fish-out-of-water goofiness.
Kasich had a blank expression on his face as he bit into at least two pickles with TV cameras in the background. It didn’t exactly look like he was having a good time, but then, it rarely does.
Kasich also had chicken soup with kreplach -- a traditional Jewish dumpling dish -- and apple strudel for dessert, according to reporters on the scene.
He ultimately declined a pastrami sandwich.
Some Twitter observers viewed the spectacle as bizarre.
And at least one person noted that some of the pickles on Kasich’s plate appeared to be “new" pickles, the least sour variety available -- an act of sacrilege to deli purists.
Kasich then managed to further undermine his New York bona fides with an innocent question about a famous park in another borough.
Nonetheless, Kasich’s deli foray is likely less awkward than another Jewish community campaign stop he made earlier this week. At a Jewish book store in the Hasidic Brooklyn enclave of Borough Park, Kasich was at pains to make small talk with some young yeshiva students patronizing the store. He ended up recounting the biblical story of Joseph’s sale into servitude, noting that was “how the Jews got to Egypt” -- something the devout Talmud scholars he was talking to undoubtedly learned in preschool.
Still, chuckles about pickle-eating could be a welcome change of subject for the Republican presidential underdog. He is being criticized for his suggestion at a town hall in Watertown Friday that female college students can evade sexual assault by avoiding “parties with a lot of alcohol.”
In addition to his Upper East Side nosh, Kasich has also been spotted in recent weeks feasting on Italian cuisine in the Bronx and pizza in Queens, which, to the shock of many natives, he chose to eat with a fork and knife.
Kasich joked at a press conference earlier on Saturday that food has been the highlight of his vote-seeking efforts in the Empire State.
The Ohio governor trails Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday’s New York primary by nearly 30 points, according to HuffPost Pollster’s polling average. He has the fewest delegates of the three remaining Republican candidates by far, having only won in his home state of Ohio.
Kasich openly acknowledges that his only path to the nomination is through a contested convention, though even that prospect appears to be narrowing as he has failed to gain traction among voters in more moderate states this past month.
But if he is hoping to pick up delegates in New York, which awards them on a proportional basis, the Upper East Side might be the right place to look.
The neighborhood has long been a rare redoubt of Republican voters in famously liberal Manhattan. And they tend to be Republicans of the fiscally conservative variety Kasich must court if he is to have a shot.