This past Tuesday, January 31, Newt Gingrich’s campaign released a Robocall in Florida in an attempt to smear Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The focus of the attack: a restriction on food. The New York Post reported last Friday about an old bill from 2003 that Romney had vetoed while he was serving as governor of Massachusetts. The bill was proposed at a time when the recession was hitting hardest and nursing homes were contemplating closing down their kosher kitchens to save money. The bill was not actually to eliminate the option of kosher food for the observant Jews in nursing homes; rather to bus in kosher food from an outside location, and save the cost of running a separate kosher kitchen. The vetoed bill did not force Holocaust survivors to eat non-kosher food for the first times in their lives, as Gingrich claimed. The facilities actually kept their kosher kitchens, and no one lost their food options. Gingrich publicized this while campaigning in Florida in an attempt to gain the vote of the elderly Jewish community.
What amazed me the most about this news report was how many different sources published articles about it—The Huffington Post, the New York Post, www.downloadpolitics.com, and Fox News, for a small sampling. Was it the fact that one candidate was trying to hurt another’s campaign, and this is exciting gossip to cling to? Did this veto go against something Romney had previously said to the public? Or was the fact that he was potentially restricting Jews from eating the only food they can eat according to their religious convictions so appalling to the masses that it received this strong of a backlash? In my opinion, the answer is the latter. Food is so central in people’s lives that the notion of restricting one’s access to food could seem criminal, and to an opponent like Gingrich, is the perfect target point for an attack. This just goes to show the force that food holds over our lives.