Campaigning in March in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Ohio Gov. John Kasich proclaimed, “You know why I’m unorthodox … Because I’m normal.” If normal equates to unorthodox, as Ohio’s governor defined it, then the unorthodoxy of the GOP’s crazy wing of the party—exemplified by recent presidential bids by two of its most unorthodox candidates, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—are stealing Gov. Kasich’s thunder of being normal by being unorthodox.
Sen. Rand Paul, the most recent person to enter the 2016 GOP presidential sweepstakes, told a news source that being the safe candidates isn’t where it’s at anymore. Interviewed by Politico, Sen. Paul said, “Frankly, the question is whether or not in this increasingly diverse country of ours, whether or not you can excite enough voters to command a majority. And I’m pretty sure that safe isn’t going to win anymore.”
Arguing for why American voters don’t want so-called safe candidates anymore, Kentucky’ s junior senator, who invoked the grace of God and “liberty lovers” as his call to arms, lumped Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush together. “It’s a little bit like Clinton: yesterday’s news, in the sense we’ll get more of the same. [F]or a long time in our country, people have wanted to go with safe. ‘Oh, this is safe: His brother has been president, his dad has been president. Let’s go with safe.’ Well, Romney was kind of safe and we maybe didn’t excite enough voters to actually win,” he told Politico.
Get Crack’n Kasich
Meanwhile, in Ohio, one of the largest swing states of the dozen or so needed to win the White House, Gov. Kasich falls further behind each day he doesn’t declare his candidacy as those who already have are seizing his unorthodoxy-as-normal schtick by railing against generic Washington as the problem and calling all lovers of liberty and God to come join their campaigns. When his name is even included in a poll, Kasich registers in the low single digits.
Kasich hopes to convince GOP base voters that while he prides himself on being unorthodox, he’s not Mad Hatter Tea Party crazy. Clearly, Ohio’s go-go CEO has a long way to go on that score.
The first big political rodeo of GOP presidential politics will kick off in New Hampshire soon, and Kasich will undoubtedly continue to play himself: a politician with multiple personalities that swing from combative to abrasive and back again. And while Kasich, who is often mentioned as a strong VP candidate, is as prone to verbal “gaffes” as Joe Biden, Kasich lacks the sincerity, experience, intellectual curiosity, empathy and self-deprecating charm that have propelled Vice President Biden to his current position.
Kasich is aching for a chance to show that he marches to his own unorthodox drumbeat, but he and his campaign advisers still seem to believe a peek-a-book campaign is the right strategy, hoping destiny comes knocking at the door once everyone else falls to the wayside. Meanwhile, Paul and Cruz are seizing destiny by the throat.
If unorthodoxy is the strong suite as Gov. Kasich claims, he commands the right and left bowers and all trump cards in between. We can only hope that Ohio media members who trail this governor from event to event accurately report his verbal burst of unorthdoxy in full so we’ll know the baseline for normal.