Kasich woos Fulton GOPers with his rich political history

There is a segment of the Republican base that thinks just about the worst thing a candidate can be is a career politician. This sentiment goes a long way toward explaining the brief success Herman Cain experienced in 2012, the relatively strong poll numbers Dr. Benjamin Carson is enjoying early in this presidential cycle, and the stunning senatorial victory of David Perdue last year.

John Kasich speaks earlier this month in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

John Kasich speaks earlier this month in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

If, instead, you have been in elected office for most of your adult life, one way to make that fact more palatable to those folks is to associate yourself with the biggest names and successes of those years. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, currently testing the waters for a presidential bid, did a credible job of doing just that during a lunchtime speech to the Fulton County GOP on Tuesday.

His first congressional race, in 1982, featured one such name: “I believed in Reagan and his philosophy, so I ran on the Reagan platform,” Kasich recounted Tuesday. “No one in Ohio in 1982 wanted to appear with Reagan … that meant I got to spend time with him.” Kasich wound up being the only Republican challenger to unseat a Democratic incumbent in the U.S. House that year.

Kasich served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years, part of the reason he told reporters afterward that, within the potential 2016 field, he was “maybe the only one with national-security experience and executive experience.” He was also chairman of the Budget Committee when the federal government last ran a surplus, working closely with — cue another big name, especially in Georgia — Newt Gingrich. He added a charming story about how, as a freshman at Ohio State University, he wound up spending 20 minutes in the Oval Office one-on-one with President Nixon (a tale more notable for his assertiveness and persistence than for any specifics about the later-disgraced Nixon).

He made a point Tuesday of mentioning his leaving Congress, and politics, in 2001: “The economy was screaming along. … We had a $5 trillion projected surplus. Republicans ran the White House, the House and the Senate. And I’m thinking, well, this $5 trillion is safe. I remember people saying, you know, it’s going to be gone. And I said, you’ve got to wake up every day (trying) to blow $5 trillion. Well, they’ve done it. We did it. Republicans did it.” (Earlier, discussing how his first proposed budget compared with that of then-President George H.W. Bush, he said, “The Bushes like to spend money.” Afterward, he denied that was a slap at potential opponent Jeb Bush.)

Of his return to politics, to run for governor of Ohio in 2010, he explained: “I think the Lord’s created us for certain things, and I think we’ve got to respond to Him.” As governor, he has turned an $8 billion shortfall into a $2 billion surplus, while cutting taxes along the way.

That’s not all he’s done, and some of the rest is what gives Republican voters pause. Notably, he expanded Medicaid in Ohio, reasoning, “It’s all our money … so I’m bringing back as much as I can bring back” from Washington. The “our money” part is a bit hard to justify we are still borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars per year to finance the federal government. Kasich may be on firmer ground with his contention that spending Medicaid money to treat the mentally ill and drug-addicted is more cost-effective than paying for them to be in prison, though we have yet to hit the budget year when the federal government is no longer paying the full cost of the expansion.

“Our party needs more compassion. We need more empathy,” Kasich told the audience. “Every once in a while, we’ve got to get people out of a ditch, so they can live their God-given potential and they change the world.” When asked afterward whether this was “compassionate conservatism” (he said it wasn’t) and whether he could square that with his criticism of the Bushes’ spending that went along with that, he said: “It’s not the same thing. You don’t have to throw money at everything in order to help people. But sometimes money’s important, and it needs to be prioritized. That’s what we’re doing in Ohio.”

What GOP voters will make of the line Kasich walks remains to be seen. If any of the laggards in opinion polls can make up ground against the upper tier, you’d think it would be a two-term governor of a key swing state who talked his way into a meeting with Nixon, campaigned alongside Reagan and balanced the budget with Gingrich. But it is a tall hill to climb.

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17 comments
332-206
332-206

Rafe claims that Kasich is a narcissist because he doesn't use "I did this" enough.


And "we" wonder why common sense Republicans can't get nominated...


Long Memories
Long Memories

By far the best and proven candidate that the Republicans have.  He is practical, works across party lines(welfare reform with Bill Clinton), helps the working poor and unlike the Bushes he actually has balanced both State and Federal budgets. He inherited a fund balance of 89 cents four years ago in Ohio and now he has a fund balance of $2 billion.  He understands that treating people and keeping them healthy is much cheaper than treating them in emergency rooms where they are much sicker or sending drug addicts to prison at $22,000 a pop. He recently changed the law so that single moms who get a raise don't get their kids kicked out of day care.  The Bush budget increased 88% in his eight years after Kasich left which is why the budget surplus went away.  While I hope Kasich is the nominee I don't believe it will happen.  The Republicans will elect a blowhard who throws red meat to the masses who don't bother to look at the actual numbers.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Dealbreaker 

a blowhard who throws red meat to the masses

Kasich is smart enough to do gross stuff to keep the base happy--see his support for funding "crisis pregnancy centers" in 2013. I wouldn't sell his prospects too short.

Also, while as Kyle points out he has spent most of his life in the public sector, he did have seven years in the private world. Unfortunately for him, that was at Lehman, and he'll have to answer to his role in that firm's bankruptcy. 

Still that's seven more years of private sector work than Scott Walker ever had.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

I voted for him in 2000 Georgia GOP Primary, back when he was a conservative.  Now he is another Jeb Bush moderate.  I think that is why Conservatives do not like career politicians, to stay in politics and continue to get re-elected, often you have to have very flexible principals,    


Kasich is less of a narcissist than Obama, but he carries some of the curse.  He uses "we" instead of "I" like Obama, but he can't talk without saying "we did blah".   A question to him about what to do with the national debt, he answers with something like, "let me tell you what I did when on the House Budget Committee" or "let me tell you what we did in Ohio".  


He is better than anything the Dems have to offer, and an excellent budget hawk, but he has a long way to go to get elected.  He has to find a way to distinguish himself from Bush and compete to be the establishment moderate favorite.  I agree with him on the compassion thing, but we need some new approaches, not just endorsement of many of  the failed policies of the left, e.g., throw more money at the problems.


If Headley is for him, that tells you how far he has "evolved" on big government spending.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@RafeHollister


You might be right Rafe but the big government Kasich you seem to know, will have to prove the  efficient  conservative sized  government Kasich I know, out to be the Bush liberal you claim.


Until the man does that his self, I will support him to the very end  of the 2016 election. 





tinala
tinala

Forget about Kasich. The President of the United States of American Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

The one Republican I could support over Hillary


But he has only slightly better odds than Trump


Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

"We did it"  --- now that's a true statement.  (Blew the 5 trill)

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"Medicaid money to treat the mentally ill and drug-addicted is more cost-effective than paying for them to be in prison, "


This is a no-brainer that evidently some people (Republicans) have politicized. 


Our party needs more compassion. We need more empathy,” Kasich told the audience. 


That's because today's Republicans come across as crass unsympathetic beings who would rather politicize Medicaid funds (at least here in Georgia and other so-called red states), would rather not find a solution to immigration reform (by fighting it every step of the way instead of leading the charge), and trying to stop gay marriage from happening when everybody knows it's a similar lost cause like trying to prohibit interracial marriage. 


In other words, he's probably too moderate for most Republicans of today. :) 

STColeman
STColeman

Agreed. Republicans finally have a varsity player on their roster, their base is too in love with their JV. Kasich should be their nominee by a mile. But he won't be. He's too smart (Scott Walker: fergit bout yer faincy book lernin!), too pragmatic for them. Bad for him, good for Hilary.

MHSmith
MHSmith

I'd like to know what my good conservatives would like to do with those Kasich  cterms in the ditch?


Leave'em in the ditch to die as the less costly solution? 


We've spent borrowed money for years on healthcare all the way around and there are means to pay for the neglected healthcare needs of every U.S. Citizen that  too many conservatives continue to reject. 


This is a case of the GOP's hardness of the heart and  of the head.



straker
straker

"the stunning senatorial victory of David Perdue"


Who has yet to fulfill his repeated campaign promise to repeal Obamacare.


Care to comment on THAT, Kyle?

MHSmith
MHSmith

This is the moment I've been waiting on and the guy I hoped would step up to the plate. He strikes the just right balance for the GOP and for me. John is about as good as they come. 


All I can say is Godspeed: Run John run all the way into the oval office.