In the wake of last Thursday’s sometimes fiery Fox News debate held in Cleveland, where national Republicans will hold their presidential nominating convention next year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeared to score points for a couple answers. Some pundits applauded him for explaining why he accepted expanding Medicaid when his Republican legislature didn’t want to do it, and on declaring he has extended his “unconditional love” to gay marriage partners, which some of his closest advisers qualify for, even though he personally doesn’t agree with it.

Handling media as he does, which is to say he answers what he wants and refuses to talk on issues outside his crafted talking points, Gov. Kasich learned Monday that, even though he got plaudits for some answers, he actually lost ground in a new national poll showing Donald Trump again leading by double digits, with Carly Fiorina taking top honors for best debate performance.

Kasich: 3 down to 2

The NBC News online poll by SurveyMonkey Friday night found Donald Trump still leading the GOP pack. In the same poll, 22 percent said Carly Fiorina won or had the best performance in the debate, followed by 18 percent who said Trump had the best performance. A majority of Trump supporters say they would vote for him as an independent … in the event he does not win the Republican nomination. Ted Cruz and Fiorina experienced the most gains in support, 7 points and 6 points respectively, even though there was no real change among most candidates given an error estimate of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

For Kasich, his already low national poll number of three percent actually went down to two percent. The go-go CEO governor who could easily have been off the stage with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry making the cut instead, said he would have skipped the earlier debate of seven, choosing instead to campaign directly to New Hampshire voters. With national polling as low as Kasich’s is so far, his performance in Cleveland didn’t help him in this new poll. He actually lost ground, which at his low polling is remarkable since he’s within the margin of error of other low performers.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich isn’t guaranteed a spot in the next debate, which takes place on September 16 at the Reagan Library in California.

Kasich’s Strong Women

“Everyone deserves respect and dignity, whether they agree with you or not. You don’t tear people down just because they disagree with you or stand up to you or question you. I deliberately seek out different views in my life and work, and I am grateful for the strong women in my family, in my office, in my cabinet and on my campaign because they improve everything they touch,” Gov. Kasich said in a statement released this weekend.

It’s basic Kasich to say one thing and do another, and his crocodile tears about not going after people he doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with come as no surprise to those of us who have followed his long and lucrative career as a performance politician.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that Gov. Kasich does not have unconditional love for one reporter in particular, that he’s signed bills into law that make Ohio one of the worst states for women’s health rights, or that he now wants to take over the Ohio School Board because seven of its members want to investigate why his campaign manager’s husband, David Hansen, who Kasich hired as school choice director, falsified charter school data to protect the industry and some of its biggest sponsors, who also happen to be some of the biggest donors of campaign cash to the term-limited governor and other Republicans who have gone to bat to protect their for-profit interests, even though their charter schools perform so badly year after year.

One Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo, thinks Hansen’s data scrubbing fiasco is criminal. Time will tell how Kasich chooses to deal with a potentially criminal activity undertaken by the husband of his campaign manager, Beth Hansen, who served as Kasich’s chief of staff until recently, when she got moved to campaign duties. He’ll do what he’s done in the past when staffer problems have arisen: He’ll say the matter is over, as he did with David Hansen upon his resignation, or change the subject, as he did by calling for the state school board to come under his control. Kasich critics don’t want this potentially criminal action swept under the rug, to be ignored by media like it ignored scandals last year when it hunted his Democratic opponent over missteps and miscues while giving Mr. Kasich a free pass on the many administrative potholes he’s created.

It’s basic Kasich to run to daylight, which he did when he slip-streamed Trump’s performance last Thursday. He seized on an opening to say Trump was “hitting a nerve … Americans are frustrated … feed up … they don’ think government is working for them.” Disciplined enough to stay on his upbeat, positive message, Gov. Kasich told Jake Tapper of ABC, “I have strong women my family, in my administration, and I’ve got strong women in my campaign, in fact my campaign manger is a women, and I’ve found that whenever women touch anything, they clearly make it better than we do, as the guys, and so, you know, I’m not getting into this or that or he said or she said, I’m just telling of my perception of how it’s worked in my lifetime, and that I actively seek out and recruit women to be involved, because, like I say, they make things better.”

Jonathan Bernstein, writing Saturday for Bloomberg View, offered his take on the debate. “None of this takes away from the obvious fact that the party is still a mess. We had nothing resembling a real agenda for governing from anyone on the podium. Years after Obamacare passed, none of them can even pretend to have a health care policy. The economic plans that they want to talk about are mostly bromides and clichés. On foreign policy it’s braggadocio along with contempt for Barack Obama.”

Gov. Kasich’s unconditional love sounds good, but in practice, he’s as political as they come and his love is limited to his family, his insider friends, and those who pay him campaign cash to be a different kind of Republican, when in fact, he’s on-board with virtually all key GOP policies and programs.