There is something that is accepted as almost universal law in American politics: candidates run to their base in primary and then run to the center for the general election.
All year, we’ve been told that there’s enthusiasm among Republicans for Republicans (in general). However, we have asserted that when it comes to specific Republican candidates, like John Kasich, there seems to be an utter lack of enthusiasm with the grassroots conservative base. Most of the people who tweet about Kasich are either from his campaign (either paid staffers or the intern) or ex-Kasich folks like the Carpetblogger.
I have seen virtual no enthusiasm among the conservative blogosphere for Kasich, only against Strickland, outside of the Carpetblogger. In fact, one of the former harshest critics of Strickland in 2006, Scott Pullins, has actually openly endorsed Strickland. Kyle Sisk, and even Matt Naugle, cannot hide their disdain and dislike of Kasich.
Which might explain why Kasich is forced to go against the conventional wisdom and pivot right. Over the past few weeks, Kasich’s folks have scrambled to send out e-mails to its supporters in response to Strickland’s gun rights ad:
Except as the blog post based on the same e-mails shows you, the Kasich campaign had to concede to its gun-rights minded supporters that Ted Strickland has a better record on guns than either John Kasich or Mary Taylor.
After over a year saying that he “wasn’t running against Strickland or Obama,” what do we see Kasich doing in the final weeks of the campaign? He’s trying to nationalize the election by running against Obama.
The video they produced tries to make a laughable claim that Ted Strickland and Barack Obama are twins. And yet, in every instance, the same arguments could be applied to Kasich and Obama.
Kasich’s campaign website shows that Kasich, too, sees the importance and immediacy for meaningful health care reform. Much of what he says he supports are major components of (gasp!) “ObamaCare!”
Kasich, too, has admitted that if he were Governor he’d accept federal stimulus money to balance the budget and to create and save jobs.
In Congress, Kasich opposed efforts to repeal D.C.’s handgun ban. Obama opposed efforts to have it declared unconstitutional. On gun rights, John Kasich is closer to Barack Obama than Ted Strickland is.
Ted Strickland has opposed Obama’s cap-and-trade which is based on Congressional Republican environment policy proposals in the 1990s. Again, this would seem to be an issue where Kasich, not Strickland, is closer to Obama. (I’m just pointing this out, not because I think it’s bad to share the same views as our President, but to point out what a ridiculous argument Kasich is making.)
Strickland strongly opposed Obama in the Ohio Democratic primary two years ago. We all remember that. While we’re glad that they have since put their differences behind them in the interest of party unity, it’s laughable to ignore their history and portray them as tied to the hip like Kasich suggests.
But that’s not all Kasich has done recently to tack rightward. After going much of this year not uttering the word “Tea Party,” let alone appearing at any of their large functions (Kasich, like the rest of the statewide GOP, skipped out the “large” Tea Party rally in Columbus this spring, despite coming the year before,) Kasich is starting to make the rounds again.
Lis Smith, Strickland-Brown communication director, stated in an e-mailed statement:
“[I]n recent days, Kasich has ramped up his appeals to the Tea Party- making unannounced stop-bys at Tea Party events, praising the Tea Party at retail stops, and invoking the ‘Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda’ specter frequently. These increased Tea Party-appeals highlight concerns we have heard anecdoctally about Kasich’s base being depressed. In fact, this week, the National Review reported on Kasich’s recent troubles, saying that even though Strickland had been running more paid media, ‘Kasich’s failure to inspire his base is a bigger factor.’
While our campaign still has a long way to go before November 2nd, we are on track with our outreach to traditional and nontraditional Democratic voters and are confident that the signs of panic we are seeing out of the Kasich campaign indicate that they are seeing the same things we are- the more Ohioans learn about John Kasich, the less they like him. And the more Ohioans are reminded of Ted Strickland’s character and his leadership during this recession, the more likely they are to support him.
While Strickland has President Obama coming in to get the youth vote at OSU and help turn out his own base, Kasich is on the defensive about his gun record and relying on the very same Tea Party that failed to get multiple issues on the ballot like they planned or have any appreciable affect in the GOP primaries.
It’s going to be interesting the next couple of weeks, no?