First it was “clown car,” the colorful, circus metaphor that aptly described the 17 or so Republicans running for president that included Ohio Gov John Kasich.

The GOP field has narrowed a bit over the months, with the departure of Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, as outsiders like Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson out-distance veteran career politicos like Kasich and Jeb! Bush, among others.

Not Good: Dems Like Kasich

What could be more distressing for Gov. Kasich is that he leads the poll of who Democrats would support for the Republican nomination, Public Policy Polling reported. “John Kasich’s campaign seems to be sputtering a little bit. He was in 2nd place at 11% in August and now finds himself in 4th place at a similar 10%,” PPP wrote. Mr. Kasich’s favorability numbers have also dropped, from +27 (49/22) to +16 (45/29).

GOP Grumpy Cats

Poking fun at the remaining candidates, who are battling for next February’s voters now in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada by spending millions to boost their flagging poll ratings, President Barack Obama upped the stakes Friday at the Democratic Women’s Initiative in Washington. Not a stranger to making surgical comedy strikes on Republicans who have tried to derail his presidency at every turn over the last seven years, America’s first African-American commander-in-chief said they’re acting like Grumpy Cat, the Internet sensation whose expression has become the face for gloom and doom.

“They’re like Grumpy Cat. Everything is terrible, according to them. We’re doomed!” the president elected, twice, with more than 50 percent of the vote said, based on a transcript of the president’s remarks.

Making his best Grumpy Cat face, President Obama asked, “Why is it that Republican politicians are so down on America? Have you noticed that? I mean they are, they are gloomy. They’re like grumpy cat. I mean, I know it’s political season, but you listen to them and they’ve constructed this entire separate reality — it’s like the Twilight Zone. And according to their story, their narrative, everything was terrific back in 2008.”

In 2008, when Obama and Joe Biden beat John McCain and Sarah Palin, the nation was loosing about 800,000 jobs a month and the economy was in a tailspin not seen since the Great Depression. At the end of eight years of a Republican White House with George W. Bush at the helm who enjoyed six years of an all-Republican Congress, President Obama inherited a nation trillions in debt following billions in tax cuts and wars of convenience in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have morphed into the Syrian meltdown and the rise of ISIS.

“When unemployment was skyrocketing, and uninsured rates were rising, and folks were losing their homes and their jobs, and we were engaged in two wars, and bin Laden was still at large,” Obama said, adding, “If you were listening to them, those were like the good old days. The golden years. And then I came in and the Democrats came in — no, but according to them, that’s when everything all went to heck,” he said.

With Trump and Carson opening up big leads of their challengers, some governors have resorted to gimmicks to bend media attention to them. In advance of the next Republican debate in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday, which Gov. John Kasich will again be part of even though he’s stuck at about three percent in national polls, he’s rolling through the Granite State in his own colorful bus. In Kasich’s bus is a ticking debt clock that gets plopped down at his townhall meetings, as Ohio’s Grumpy Cat points to it as the harbinger of doom for spending on important social safety net programs but not military spending.

Tick Tock On Kasich

Ever the showman, Gov. Kasich sees what Mr. Trump’s show is producing, and is trying to downplay it as he always does when it benefits him. Kasich hasn’t attacked Trump directly, but he’s making side-swipes at him. Mr. Kasich is attacking the New York billionaire real estate developer nonetheless, as he did on Monday, when he said “bombastic remarks” don’t help when there are serious issues to discuss, according to reports.

Now in his second run for the White House, Gov. Kasich is legend for bombastic remarks, but seems to be loosing in this war of bombastic remarks. “The flat tax is an attractive idea, especially in terms of simplification,” said a Scott Milburn, a senior adviser to Kasich’s presidential campaign. “He [Kasich] continues to be very interested in it, and we continue to explore it. At the same time, balancing the budget has a profound stimulative effect and our overall economic policy needs to continually be driving toward that goal. ….” Milburn said, according to reports.

“Conservatives know which ideas can work. There’s widespread agreement. That is why it is all the more frustrating when Washington makes so little progress in enacting the reforms so many people can agree on,” Mr. Milburn said. “We need someone who knows how to bring people together, knock a few heads together if needed, and produce the results Americans so badly want.”

President Obama had something to say on Milburn’s insistence that Kasich’s policies, which are no different than what the GOP has championed since he entered politics in the late 1970s.

“The reason they have to make up stuff is because they don’t have a record to run on.  They’re offering the same policies that caused so many problems in the first place.  They ran on them in 2008.  They ran on them in 2012.  They’re running on them now:  More tax cuts for the folks at the very top — although there is no economic evidence to show that that would grow the economy, they say that’s going to grow the economy.  Nobody believes it, no economists think it, but they insist on it,” he said, according to a White House transcript.

Reports worth their salt know John Kasich has made a career of preaching that huge deficits can hamper economic growth. It’s hard to go in two different directions at the same time, but that’s exactly what Gov. Kasich is trying to do, as he caters to tax-cutting conservatives who don’t understand long-term financing for Social Security yet who want to cut off non-discretionary spending while they let military spending zoom.

In the release Tuesday of a new national Republican poll by CBS News and The New York Times, Gov. Kasich tops out at just four percent, as he trails Dr. Ben Carson [26%] and Donald Trump [22%].

In a poll released yesterday focused on Iowa, Ohio’s governor’s registers just two percent.

Focusing nearly all his time in New Hampshire, a small state where’s he’s spent almost $10 per person so far with promises of spending millions more, John Kasich comes in sixth place with five percent.

According to Camp Kasich, Ohio’s “Grumpy Cat” Governor has a unique winning message. “The coming debates play to our strengths and will allow us to lay the foundation nationally that is already taking hold in New Hampshire,” Kasich’s top campaign strategist wrote. That strategist, John Weaver, said he doesn’t anticipate “any lasting breakout moment in this campaign,” but says the governor’s back-of-the-pack position is good.

“We will continue to build incrementally to peak when the delegates begin being awarded,” he said, according to Politico. “New Hampshire is notorious for narrowing the field. We are positioned to come out of New Hampshire as the candidate that our Party can coalesce around.”