John Kasich to ObamaCare critics: Do I need to buy Bibles for you people to remind you to care about the poor?

I like Alex Burns’s summary of this clip: “Kasich basically defends Medicaid expansion the way an Aaron Sorkin character would.” Precisely, and he’s been doing it for more than two years despite endless conservative upset at him for equating state-backed entitlements with Christian charity. His first, most famous musing on this point came in June 2013 when he replied to right-wing critics of expanding Medicaid:

Kasich continued: “I had a conversation with one of the members of the legislature the other day. I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith.

‘Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’  ”

Those remarks have followed him ever since. He was challenged on them earlier this year at a panel discussion by conservative health-care wonk Avik Roy and seemed to finally inch away from them, which made sense given his looming presidential candidacy:

Sparks flew when Kudlow gave the floor to Manhattan Institute scholar and Forbes healthcare blogger Avik Roy, who asked: “Is it fair to say you support repealing Obamacare except for the Medicaid expansion?” Roy added that Kasich has been asserting that Medicaid critics on the right “are going to hell.”…

He conceded that Roy had described his position on Obamacare and Medicaid correctly, but also told Roy, “I’m gonna send you the transcript so you can get it right,” saying of an event at which he was quoted, “I was out at a Koch brothers’ conference. A lady was yelling at me saying, ‘you’re using God against your people.’ “

Ah, so he was only answering a question in the same dismissive religious terms in which it was posed to him. Except, obviously, he wasn’t: He’s back to trotting out Biblical defenses of the welfare state in today’s Q&A with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Why? I realize he’s got John Weaver whispering in his ear and I realize he’s running a Huntsman-esque centrist campaign aimed at showing he’s more evolved than those darned wingnuts in his party’s base, but he’s still going to need those voters in a general election if he’s the nominee. Jeb Bush at least has the good sense not to antagonize conservatives who already dislike him. As it is, this is like Rick Perry telling righties in 2012 that if they “don’t have a heart” if they don’t support in-state tuition for illegals — times a hundred. I don’t get it. And the worst part is, if you’re all about helping the poor, Medicaid is one of the worst ways to go about doing so.

Exit question: And then he immediately segues into … fighting ISIS? Huh?

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