On second thought, Governor, I actually preferred it when your spokesman was just issuing a “no comment” on Building a Better Ohio’s “Grannygate” ad.

Gov. John Kasich, the main pitchman for Building a Better Ohio, said this morning that he doesn’t “run the campaign,” but “what they’re doing is fine."

“The ads and literature out there supporting Issue 2’s been based on facts,” Kasich told reporters following a speech to the Independent Insurance Agents of Ohio meeting. “We want people to pay their fair share and we want our cities to survive. Mayor (Mike) Bell, the mayor of Toledo, has argued that if he can’t control his costs he’ll have to lay off safety forces, which we don’t want to do.

“Controlling your costs allow you to get it right, so I think we’ve been pretty factual about it,” Kasich continued. “The problem with the campaign – they’ve been emotional and we’ve been factual. And in campaigns, emotion usually wins. That’s kind of where we are.”

[Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/12/11)]

John Kasich may not run the campaign, but his staff does… at least that’s what the Dispatch reported just a month ago:

Beth Hansen, Kasich’s chief of staff making $170,000 per year, has taken a leave of absence to join Building a Better Ohio. She will serve as a senior adviser with a primary focus on media strategy, Mauk said.

You read that right.  John Kasich’s right-hand woman, his chief-of-staff, is on an unpaid leave of absence from her job to work for Better Ohio as the senior advisor on “media strategy.”

So for Kasich to suggest he has “no control” over this ad suggest his staff runs him.  And by saying that he doesn’t run the campaign is a tacit admission that Kasich believes that if he as Governor and titular head of the Ohio Republican Party told his own staff to back off this ad, they wouldn’t listen to him?!

As for the statement that Kasich’s stuck to his factual guns, well…

Mostly False

Governor Kasich has a serious problem with the truth as it relates to Issue 2, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s PolitiFact Ohio series. On the other hand, PolitiFact has rated the following statements by opponents of Issue 2 as Mostly True:

The only statement that PolitiFact has checked from the pro-Issue 2 side that it found was True?  That Toledo Mayor Mike Bell was laid off as a firefighter in the 1980s—an assertion nobody disputed. 

Among the other “factual” claims that John Kasich has made about Issue 2:

Then there was Better Ohio’s citing the layoffs of the Village of Mt. Sterling’s entire police force as evidence of union benefits costing jobs… until we had to point out that nobody employed by the Village can belong to an union under existing labor law.  In fact, Better Ohio has been so outrageous in their lying, we had to call them about lying about… lying.  So, it’s kind of absurd for Kasich to suggest that the pro-Issue 2 has been a) factual and b) not emotional.  Kasich’s latest spiel on Issue 2 has been nothing but one scare tactic threat after another.

By the way, what does “pretty factual” say to you?  Is that like “kind of” pregnant?  Is Kasich essentially saying: “we haven’t exceeded the appropriate limit of partisan b.s. in this campaign?”  Because in case the Governor hadn’t heard, the “Grannygate” ad he just publicly stood behind is so “pretty factual” that thirty television stations have declared they will no longer run it because they believe the factual errors in it might expose them to litigation.

And this public relations viral brushfire disaster that Kasich so wisely decided to throw gasoline on couldn’t come at a much worse time as this is when undecided voters start focusing on the race and making their decision.  Voters are voting, especially seniors who tend to identify with the great-grandmother caught in the middle of Grannygate.

Kasich could have limited the damage and start to put the fire out.  Instead, he decided that a campaign that is getting outspent 5:2 and down double digits in the polls with now less than four weeks to go until the election ends can afford even more news cycles on Grannygate. 

“Governor Kasich and his political operatives should be ashamed for defending their underhanded tactics of twisting Marlene Quinn’s words in order to benefit their agenda of passing Issue 2,” said Melissa Fazekas, We Are Ohio spokeswoman. “This just proves they will do or say anything to mislead voters. It’s beyond time they admit they were wrong and apologize to Marlene, her family and all first responders.”

Why did BetterOhio attempt to steal the ad?  Because they know that it’s a powerful ad that is hurting them.  But their response to it damaged them probably more than the ad did if they had said nothing in response.  A political response ad that eats several news cycles generating negative press for you while it doesn’t even run in the rotation you intended because thirty stations refuse risking being sued by airing it anymore is probably something they teach you to avoid in political campaign consultant school.  The second rule is: do no harm.  Better Ohio this week violated both rules, and now Kasich continues this story with his stunning lack of morality to call out what even some of the most partisan pro-Issue 2 folks will admit was an ad that crossed the line.

John Kasich shows you can win an election, and not be a leader.  What else can you say about a guy who publicly approves misusing a great-grandmother to promote a political agenda she actually opposes? (NSFW)