(JTA) — Former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling is in political hot water even before his political career has begun after he pressed a Jewish CNN anchor to explain why so many Jews support the Democratic Party.
Schilling, who is registered as an Independent, appeared Friday with CNN’s Jake Tapper on his “The Lead” program, during which he announced that he is considering a 2018 Senate bid in Massachusetts as a Republican to unseat Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Schilling is an outspoken supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“I would like to ask you something as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith and has since you were young. I don’t understand — and this is, maybe this is the amateur, non-politician in me — I don’t understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party, which over the last 50 years has been so clearly anti-Israel, so clearly anti-Jewish Israel,” Schilling said.
“I don’t know what else would need to be done, said or happen for people to understand that they don’t — the Democratic Party is aligned for Israel only because we have agreements in place to make them have to be.”
Tapper responded that he does not speak for Jews and that he does not support a particular political party, but guessed that perhaps “one of the reasons many Jews are Democrats has more to do with Democrats’ support for social welfare programs and that sort of thing than it does for Israel.”
“That’s fair,” Schilling replied.
“And I know a lot of Jews who are very strong supporters of Israel do support the Republican Party, but again, I don’t speak for Jews,” said Tapper, who also said he does not vote in elections that he covers.
“Right, no, I know you don’t. I just always find it a great conversation for somebody of your faith to — because I want to understand the reason behind some of those things, so I appreciate that,” Schilling said.
Schilling later the same day defended his question to Tapper in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball.”
“I’m apparently an anti-Semite, because I had the gall and the audacity to ask someone of the Jewish faith why or how they believe people of Jewish faith vote Democrat,” he said. “God forbid I listen to someone of the faith, rather than the media, who clearly are not biased and don’t have an agenda.”
“I don’t need Chris Matthews to tell me why people of Jewish faith vote the way they do,” he said. “And I don’t have a problem asking people questions like that, because I’m not trying to be offensive or racist.”
Matthews responded that it may not be the best idea to “ask a person of a religious faith or a race to speak for that religious group and ask them to sort of account for it.”
Last year, Schilling was temporarily suspended by ESPN, where he worked as a live game analyst, for tweeting a meme that showed an image of Hitler against a dark blood-red background that compared modern Muslims to the German population under Hitler. Schilling deleted the tweet shortly after posting it.
“It’s said that only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists,” the graphic read. “In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?”
Schilling added in his own accompanying text: “The math is staggering when you get to true #’s.”
Earlier this year, ESPN ultimately fired him for a Facebook post that mocked transgender people.
Schilling played 19 seasons for five teams and won World Series championships with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. He was a six-time All-Star and has the best postseason record of all-time for a pitcher with at least 10 playoff decisions.