Joe Biden wants you to know that he’s more Jewish than Hillary Clinton.
The famously Catholic vice president let slip this revelation last week in Dayton, Ohio, where he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee and for former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, the Democrat who now is attempting to unseat Republican Senator Rob Portman.
The moment came 19 minutes into the speech, counterintuitively enough after Biden crossed himself to emphasize that he does not like saying the words “Donald Trump.”
The crowd laughed appreciatively, and Biden tossed out a self-deprecating line he often uses when he gets a little irreverent: “No one ever doubts I mean what I say. The problem is, I sometimes say all that I mean, and it gets me in trouble.”
Someone in the crowd interjected, “You’re a real mensch!”
Biden grinned. “Thank you, it’s a high compliment, a high compliment,” he said, and digressed for a moment into one of the favorite lines he uses when he’s stumping the Jewish circuit.
“By the way, I’m the only Irish Catholic you know who had his dream met because his daughter married a Jewish surgeon, I just want you to know that,” he said, to applause and laughter.
(Biden’s daughter, Ashley, married Philadelphia surgeon Howard Krein in 2012.)
Marc Daniels, who has been ubiquitous selling specialized kippahs on the campaign trail this year, told me he was in the second row with a stack of Hillary kippahs. Biden seemed to notice.
“I have more yarmulkes — as many yarmulkes as you do,” Biden said, and suggests he’s contemplated conversion. “If I’m going to switch, I know where I’m going.” Then he tried out another line he’s tested on the Jewish circuit. “I just want you to know, the oldest Catholic church in Delaware, my daughter got married several years ago and there was a chuppah on the altar.”
This is where Daniels interjected, “I have Hillary yarmulkes!” and Biden replied: “Those are Hillary yarmulkes, I’m more Jewish than Hillary is, I been there a lot longer than even Hillary.”
He may be right on the length of his Jewish involvement, although we’ll leave how “Jewish” someone is up to a higher power. One marker: Biden was in Israel in 1973; Clinton’s first visit was in 1981.
He’s also got twice the machatainisters. In other words, Biden has two sets of Jewish in-laws, as opposed to Clinton’s one. In addition to Ashley’s marriage to Krein, Biden’s late son, Beau, married Hallie Olivere, who is Jewish, in 2002. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, is married to Marc Mezvinsky.
JTA Wire Service