Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has taken his campaign to a new low in his desperation to win the Florida primary.
In an automated "robocall" to Florida voters, the Gingrich campaign claimed that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney prevented Jewish Holocaust survivors from eating kosher food.
The call was first posted online by Shaun Dakin, founder of StopPoliticalCalls.org.
"As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney vetoed a bill paying for kosher food for our seniors in nursing homes," a recorded voice says. "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," the speaker adds. "Paid for by Newt 2012."
As tasteless as the ad may be, The New York Post reported last week that that Romney had used his veto in 2003 to reject $600,000 in funds that would have allowed poor Jewish nursing homes to get Kosher meals.
An amendment to the bill (PDF) Romney vetoed reads, "[F]or any nursing home that provides kosher food to its residents, the division of medical assistance, in consultation with the division of health care finance and policy, is directed to approve a special innovative program [...] for any nursing home that provides kosher food to its residents, establish up to a $5 per day increase to the standard payment rates to reflect the high dietary costs incurred in providing kosher food."
At several events in Florida on Monday, Gingrich had claimed that Romney's veto had " eliminated serving kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under Medicare."
Commentary magazine pointed out that while this was a great campaign pitch to the Jewish voters in Florida, it wasn't at all true.
"[T]here was never actually a concern that kosher residents would be forced to eat non-kosher food – the facilities were weighing several options, including busing in the food from other nursing homes or hiring catering services," Commentary's Alana Goodman wrote. "Whether you believe he was right or wrong to veto it, this was clearly a position that made Romney appear insensitive to the elderly and Jewish communities."
"In the end, the veto was overridden by the Massachusetts state legislature, and the facilities kept their kosher kitchens after all," she added.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel that the robocall was a "desperate attempt" by the Gingrich campaign.
"Speaker Gingrich will say anything to distract voters from the fact that he suffered an unprecedented ethics reprimand, was forced to pay a $300,000 penalty, and resigned in disgrace at the hands of his own party. His record is one of failed and unreliable leadership and simply one Americans can't risk."
Listen to this audio from Newt 2012, recorded Jan. 30, 2012.
Photo: YouTube/Republican Jewish Coalition