Texas Sen. Ted Cruz visited an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn on Thursday hoping to shore up support from the New York community as his presidential campaign faced allegations of anti-Semitism in the press. Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera and CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin both said Thursday that Cruz’s “New York values” comments seemed an anti-Jewish slight, the Hill reported.
"Aside from the stinking anti-Semitic implications that I see in that whole ‘New York values’ money- and media-coated message that he put out there pandering to those Iowa voters, he also voted against Hurricane Sandy relief. He also voted against compensation for 9/11 victims. This is a man whose interests are absolutely antithetical to New York," Rivera said on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."
The right-wing Texan senator has touted himself a strong backer of Israel willing to take on threats in the Middle East. Cruz, however, remains an unlikely pick for Jewish voters, with just a 20 percent favorability rating, a Gallup poll of self-identifying Jews in March found.
Bill O’Reilly, the news show host, defended Cruz. He said Cruz was referring to liberal New York Democrats.
"If he says ‘New York values’ to a bunch of Evangelicals, it’s not anti-Semitic," O'Reilly said.
Echoing similar suspicions as Rivera, Toobin told CNN host Wolf Blitzer that Cruz’s comments seemed in line with a popular anti-Semitic trope.
"Money and media is Jews. I mean, this is just an old-fashioned anti-Semitic stereotype, derogatory term, and everybody understands it," Toobin said.
The accusations come as Cruz visited New York in an effort to win as many delegates as possible to force a contested convention. While real estate mogul Donald Trump remains the Republican front-runner, Cruz is reaching out to Jewish and other communities in New York in hopes of cutting into Trump's delegate count.
Cruz visited the Chabad Neshama Center in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach on Thursday, where he made matzo with children ahead of the Jewish holiday Passover. About 100 Orthodox Jews gathered outside cheered and chanted, “Jews for Cruz,” MSNBC reported Friday. The New York primary is set for April 19.
Cruz has said the phrase “New York values,” which he used in an ad to criticize Trump and said during a GOP debate, refers to liberal policies by New York politicians and are not meant as an offense to New Yorkers. But he's had trouble shaking off the comments, and whether it was meant as an anti-Semitic or anti-New York swipe, many New Yorkers took the comments with offense.
"[Cruz] may have been trying to make an ideological attack, but instead, he attacked [Trump] for where he comes from, and that's how New Yorkers took it," Republican strategist John McLaughlin told MSNBC. "He definitely made a mistake attacking them — it may have been a good idea somebody thought about in Iowa, but it hasn't gone away."