Ohio Gov. John Kasich actually got away with not debating his gubernatorial challengers last year, and Ohio media took his stiff arm to voters in perfect stride as it swallowed whole his reason that his challenger’s campaign had crashed. Then, in the only gathering of the candidates—Ed FitzGerald for Democrats and Anita Rios for The Green Party—Gov. Kasich performed more like a petulant, spiteful child than a candidate that wants to win the hearts, minds, and votes of a nation.
Combative Kasich No Fan Of Debates
But Ohio’s combative, easily-angered governor, who largely disdains media and dislikes accounting for his past and present actions, can now look forward to whether he’ll step on stage with his GOP rivals, or not, in the first primary debate for the next presidential election to be held in August in Cleveland. On Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus identified Cleveland as the location for the first of nine presidential debates. Reports say Cleveland, venue for the RNC’s 2016 nominating convention, will also be host city for the RNC summer meeting this August. If Gov. Kasich does decide he wants to be president, and there is no one that doesn’t think he does, he’ll not only have Cleveland as a debate city, he’ll have California in September, Colorado in October, Nevada in December, Iowa in January, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida in February to show up for.
For Kasich followers, whether or not he decides to run for president may be a fun parlor game to play inside the Ohio Republican Party, but for the nation, Ohio’s governor is a non-entity, as a poll on GOP presidential candidates released by Quinnipiac showed in stark clarity. Even though he’s been to ruby red western and southern states, and plans another foray to New Hampshire to push his much-criticized federal balanced budget amendment, Gov. Kasich is a bottom-dweller when compared to nearly every other GOP presidential hopeful.
How Low Can Kasich Go? Q-Poll Shows How Low
In its poll of 1,286 registered voters nationwide, conducted over the last week, Gov. Kasich topped out at 1 percent of Republican-leaning respondents, which, sadly, is down from 2 percent during earlier polls. The two top GOP hotties so far are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 18 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 16 percent.
For reporters and fans who have followed Mr. Kasich over the long arc of his lucrative career as a public employee, he’s at his best when the deck is stacked in his favor, as it has been in Ohio since 2010, when the only people he had to contend with were Republicans, who controlled, and still do, the legislature and who are in sync with him on nearly all issues, be they economic or social in nature. Gov. Kasich likes to be a one-man band, and he is easily irritated by any criticisms, however correct they are, of him, his policies, or programs.
Kasich Bristles Like A Brush
As recently as Wednesday, while he was attending a joint meeting of Congress to hear the politically-driven address Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered at the request of Ohio Congressman and House Speaker John Boehner, Gov. Kasich “bristled when asked whether attending the speech would burnish his foreign policy credentials for a national race,” according to one reporter present. “I don’t need to burnish my foreign policy credentials,” he told a Plain Dealer reporter who dared question his motives for attending the unhelpful and possibly damaging remarks Mr. Netanyahu delivered, that could crash a multi-nation agreement with Iran over its nuclear energy industry.
Gov. Kasich is well known for his avoidance to answering questions he doesn’t like, as he did last year in his reelection campaign when he banned one reporter from his events and told others to stop asking certain questions because he wasn’t going to answer them. Maybe he thinks he can let the GOP presidential hopefuls bloody each other up, so he can step in at the end, like Rosie Ruiz did many years ago to win the Boston Marathon’s women’s race, and become the fall-back favorite.
Whatever his PR handlers and advisers determine will be his catch-me-if-you-can strategy to be a lone wolf who wants to remake the GOP in his image, the debates looming will force Gov. Kasich’s hand, one way or another. Whether it’s his vote to ban assault weapons in the 1990s, or the individual mandate he once proposed in his only attempt at healthcare planning, or his thin-skinned fury that erupts with regularity, Gov. Kasich won’t be able to do nationally what he got away with doing in Ohio last year.