To anyone who half-way has followed the political antics and arch of John Kasich over his nearly 40 years of honing his political craftsmanship, the presidential opening-night show he’ll deliver on July 21st when he announces his second run for president, will sound like heavenly music to virgin ears.
For others who know his script, his formal announcement that he’s in the run for the White House will be the national installment of Kasich’s well-worn “Sermon On The Mount” addresses heard for the last three off-road State of the State speeches. The governor will braid together political rapture with right-wing ideological beliefs, then bake them in his “selfie” life story best summarized as “Father Knows Best.”
At 63, the jumble of GOP candidates polling lower than 20 percent assures Mr. Kasich of his best and probably last chance to ride the bucking bronco of presidential competition. The uphill challenge is real, not just because he doesn’t like competition, as he tries to not get bucked off this time like last time, in 2000, when George W. Bush became the Republican’s anointed one.
The rough and tumble Republican primary season gets underway on August 6, in Cleveland, where Kasich’s national polling numbers are so low that his first ignominy will be not being among the top ten GOP performers who will take each other on to win the chance to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton, the widely anticipated Democratic nominee for president next year.
History buffs will recall that Mrs. Clinton won the 2008 Ohio Democratic Party primary—just like her husband did in 1992 and 1996, years when he went on to win the national vote as wells. Should the former secretary of state and two-term senator from New York State become the nominee, she can win both Ohio and the nation again in 2016, when voter turnout goes up as traditional Democratic constituencies make the effort to vote. Clinton is formidable already, while Gov. Kasich, a household name in Ohio, is barely known elsewhere.
The AP reported Kasich intends to use The Ohio State University as his backdrop again for his presidential run announcement. It’s his Alma mater, which handed him a lucrative if limited teaching spot, further embellishing his resume, which he says makes him the most qualified to run government in Washington. He used the football stadium last year when he told voters the best was yet to come if they hired him again. They did, by a wide margin of 2-1, but viewed in the context of registered voters in Ohio, fewer than one in four bothered to vote for him.
Advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity, the AP reported, so as not to pre-empt the announcement. The AP was gentle on Ohio’s chief executive, whose temperament is now a concern commonly included in profiles and is described as drifting between cranky and off-putting and dismissive. “He’s also known for going off script and for pulling no punches about political positions he sees as practical though they might anger fellow Republicans.” Kasich was quoted in “Game Change,” describing Mitt Romney as “terrible” in 2012.
Kasich’s ‘New Day’ Story Nothing New
The specific words John Kasich will say are not known, but what is known is the script structure he’s followed over and over. Kasich will early on bring God into his remarks, saying he’s been called by the Lord to help the poor, the widows and his favorite rubric, “people living in the shadows.” His budgets show that claim to be flimsy at best, but he says his motivation is to merit eternal salvation for his soul.
He’ll roll out his retread “Ohio Story,” largely fabricated, that says he inherited a dead state, then breathed life into it with tough decisions, efficient reforms that boosted Ohio’s credit rating, restocked the rainy day emergency fund, reduced income tax rates, created jobs by privatizing a public agency. His Ohio story, he’ll say, can be the nation’s story. His critics cringe.
He’ll talk about rising above politics, taking on special interests, bringing people together as only he can. Look for an outsized prop, like maybe a giant Ohio flag or equally big American flag. Kasich has used human props before, like when in 2014 he group-hugged three women who were abducted and kept captive for ten years in a basement in Cleveland. He’s ever ready to surround himself with sympathetic people like the abductees, or kids, who have shown up at bill and budget signing ceremonies. Before he makes his remarks at OSU, he’ll probably show up on Fox News to prime his pump.
Even before his big announcement, election experts offer analysis that says he won’t have an easy path to winning at the national level as he did in Ohio last year. “If he can’t even get in the Fox debate, it’s hard to say how he prevails,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.