The free-for-all Wednesday night in Boulder, Colorado, also known as the third Republican presidential debate, soon turned into a cage match the ten White House hopefuls on stage didn’t want. The same can not be said for the Media and viewers who tuned in instead of watching the second game of the World Series.
Every candidate had something to achieve. Jeb Bush needed to show his donor base he was worth their investment. Dr. Ben Carson had to show his new lead in recent polls is real. Donald Trump, now second in some polls, needed to again dominate the pack, just like he does as ringmaster and chief-firer on his TV show The Apprentice. Would Carly Fiorina be the HP warrior queen again? Could the others, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or Chris Christie, have a breakout moment?
Angry Kasich Back
Deep in the hole in state and national poll rankings, Ohio’s term-limited governor, John Kasich, signaled Tuesday he would start slamming other candidates, which he did when he dodged the first question of the debate—what’s your biggest weakness—and launched into his rehearsed criticism of Trump and Carson, without mentioning their names. For reporters who know his competitive tactics, based on his performance over the years, refusing to mention his opponent by name is a basic Kasich, a personality quirk that illuminates his mindset.
Needing media attention to boost his low poll ratings, he acted like a boxer hoping to connect by throwing haymakers. From the opening bell, Gov. Kasich delivered his angry, clearly practiced and rehearsed responses. Media, especially Ohio media, has used his flimsy and overrated narrative to his advantage, making him the center of the universe. By many other metrics, though, he’s on the outer edge of the GOP galaxy of stars conservative voters want to send to Washington.
Kasich Zeros In On Trump
The day before the CNBC-hosted event, at a send-off rally for him in Westerville, a reliably conservative suburb of Columbus Kasich represented in Congress for 18 years, he said he’s about had it with some of his competitors.
“I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of listening to this nonsense, and I’m going to have to call it like it is in this race,” the combative Ohio CEO said. Continuing, he said, “Do you know how crazy this election is? Let me tell you something, I’ve about had it with these people.” Mr. Kasich wants to be the Republican Paul Revere, warning them of what’s coming.
“You know, folks, we better be careful that we don’t turn this country over to somebody who’s not capable of running it…Because if we turn this country over to somebody with wild ideas that thinks they can scream and bluster or operate their way to success, it’s my kids who are going to be at risk and your kids and your grandchildren and all of us. So why don’t we grow up?”
Known for his dismissive attitude and father-knows-best attitude, that rubs many across the spectrum both left and right the wrong way, he regurgitated a near verbatim rendition of the bombastic remarks delivered in Ohio in advance of the ten-candidate showdown.
Kasich ended up Wednesday night, unfortunately, on the wrong end of a biting exchange with Donald Trump, the favorite for months of GOP voters who put him and Dr. Ben Carson, another un-elected contender, way out in front of career politicians like Kasich and others. Kasich is practiced at being mean, an inconvenient personality trait his team reconfigures as being blunt and candid. But the former Lehman Brothers banker was no equal to Trump, who dealt his own trump cards to put Kasich in context and in his place.
Trump On Kasich: ‘You Can Have Him’
Trump first blasted Kasich, saying he got lucky with fracking in Ohio, attempting to explain the state’s okay economy. Then he took a drive down Wall Street. “This is the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman when it went down the tubes. I watched what happened. He was on the board. He was such a nice guy, I’m never going to attack, then his poll numbers tanked, that’s why he’s on the end. You know what, you can have him,” Trump said.
Based on a variety of polls, Trump’s accurate about Kasich’s flagging campaign, which now includes a big, shiny bus and a ticking debt clock that gets plopped down at New Hampshire townhall meetings to demonstrate the fiscal discipline only he, and a federal balanced budget, can bring isn’t off base.
Sounding a little desperate, the governor of Ohio repeated the same spiel that sounds impressive only if you don’t know anything about his five years as Ohio’s top leader. Kasich inherited a rising tide and nearly $1 billion in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs from former Gov. Ted Strickland, who took the worst the Great Recession could deliver and used resources available to him, including help from Washington, to kept first responders, teachers and governments on the job as much as possible. Kasich now has 35 straight months of underperforming the national average for job creation, Ohio’s median wage is below the national wage while poverty, especially for children, is up.
“If I could bankrupt Lehman Brothers from a two man office in Columbus, then I should be Pope,” Gov. Kasich said post-debate on the Chris Matthews show on MSNBC. From his years spent as a Fox News political talk show host, Mr. Kasich knows how to schmooze media celebrities like Matthews, who like his brashness and off-the-cuff comments. Kasich told Matthews it was his duty “to serve my country; I can’t let someone become president who I don’t think can do the job,” he said. Kasich’s claim is his resume in Washington and Ohio qualify him to “land the plane” of government.
For reasons of positive campaign publicity, Gov. Kasich believes he’s the GOP candidate Hillary Clinton worries about most, and tossed this popular meme out to Matthews. Hillary Clinton, who performed well in her first Democratic debate and battled a Republican field out to get her for 11 hours at a House hearing on Benghazi, said she’ll stay out of Republican politics so as not to interfere with who the party picks. If she’s the Democratic nominee, she said, then she’ll focus on whomever that candidate is.
“The problem with Hillary is she’s brittle, she doesn’t exude any warmth, she’s sort of boring,” Kasich said, apparently unaware that his raspy personality, predisposed to narky and oftentimes disjointed remarks, is not an asset, along with his natural tendency to put people down who disagree with him or get in his way.
Kasich Fired For Selling Pot In 76 Reagan Campaign
Shortly after the debate ended, Kasich wasn’t getting the PR treatment he wanted. Politico reported that many of his super PAC’s biggest donors have business ties to him, an allegation that resurfaces the issue of his “cronyism.”
“When you design something that is secretive, it raises the classic corporate-cronyism concern because you don’t know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it,” Matt Mayer, president of conservative research outfit Opportunity Ohio, said of a jobs program, JobsOhio, that led to some of the ethics issues, Politico reported.
Kasich may have more to explain after Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump sent out this tweet: “Hypocrisy? I fired John Kasich from the 1976 Reagan Campaign…for selling pot to other field men.”