Photo Credit: AP
Photo Credit: AP

As John Kasich makes a surprise second placed finish in New Hampshire, we examine the rise of this man, and discuss if he has the momentum going into other states, where his centrist views might not be as welcome.

Budget Hawk

Kasich was born in the town of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, on May 13, 1952, the son of a mailman and a post office worker mother. After completing high school, he enrolled at Ohio State University, where he graduated in 1974.

A few years later he won his first election to become the youngest-ever member of the Ohio State Senate at the age of 26. He then went on to win a seat in the US House of Representatives, where he would serve a total of nine terms from 1983 to 2001.

During the 18 years he spent in Congress, Kasich earned a reputation as a budget hawk, rising up the ranks to become chairman of the House Budget Committee. He also served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

After leaving Congress Kasich went into the private sector, working as a managing director at Lehman Brothers until the firm’s collapse in 2008. He was also the host of the FOX News television show, “From the Heartland with John Kasich,” from 2001-2007.

Kasich returned to politics in 2010, when he was elected the 69th governor of Ohio after defeating Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland. After a successful first term, he won re-election in 2014 with nearly 64 percent of the vote.

He declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on July 21, 2015.

It is not, however, the first time Kasich has set his sights on the White House – he ran a brief campaign in 1999 before abandoning the idea five months later and endorsing then Texas governor George W. Bush, who eventually won the presidency.

Fight between Kasich and Bush

So the first few days in South Carolina included some sniping between Bush and Kasich and their allies, escalating late Friday with the release of a new attack ad against Kasich. Saturday’s debate may feature more of the same.

“I’m worried about Jeb. It’s all negative. How the heck do you sell negative?” Kasich told supporters Thursday in Pawleys Island.  “If positive doesn’t work, then what do you get if you spend your time living in the dark?”

Later, Kasich reportedly suggested Bush’s criticism of him and other candidates risked damaging his family’s legacy. Kasich has generally avoided criticizing opponents in his campaign stops.

“I’m glad he’s concerned about the legacy,” Bush told reporters Thursday in Columbia. “Governor Kasich is a good guy, and he’s been a good governor. But my record as a conservative reformer far exceeds his. And that’s not attacking. That’s not negative. That’s what you call comparing and contrasting.”

Bush’s biggest criticism of Kasich since hitting South Carolina has centered on the Ohio governor’s embrace of the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Unlike Ohio, South Carolina declined to use the health care law to extend Medicaid benefits to more citizens. Bush said he took the conservative route of encouraging Florida’s Legislature not to expand the health care program.

Kasich responded Friday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” suggesting Bush’s comments were disingenuous because he served as a board member of a health care company that endorsed Medicaid expansion.

The rhetoric escalated later Friday when Bush’s PAC, Right to Rise, released an ad that accused Kasich of “supporting massive defense cuts.”

In Congress, Kasich supported changes in what he viewed as unnecessary areas of military spending, such as some lucrative defense contracts, the proposed mass production of the B-2 bomber and the perpetuation of some U.S. military bases. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won the South Carolina primary in 2012, has called the commercial’s implications “false” and, in a statement to Politco,called for the ad to come down.

Despite the sniping, Bush’s goal is larger than just defeating Kasich: After edging out Rubio in New Hampshire, Bush hopes to overtake him in South Carolina. His brother, former President George W. Bush, is still popular in the state, which has a large population of military members and veterans. The two Bushes plan to campaign together next week, and Bush this week said he hoped the South Carolina primary would turn on national security issues.

Cynicism from mainstream media

With Republicans realizing that Rubio might not be the answer to their electability worries, Kasich seems like he might be a suitable option. The Ohio governor, however, poured nearly all of his resources and time into New Hampshire. He’s consistently polled with terrible support in South Carolina, and the last poll out of Nevada gave him less support than two candidates who have already dropped out, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

 The problem for Kasich — and to a lesser extent, Rubio — is that he’s someone who’s both acceptable to the the New York Times and is given to McConnell-like levels of awareness that ultraconservatives are taking the Republican Party down an untenable path. In other words, he’s the establishment, or exactly the kind of politician who’s given rise to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Rush Limburgh: ” I mean, Kasich was a one-off.  He won second place. The attention paid to the second, third, and fourth place finishers last night in the media was stunning.  I’d never seen that much attention paid to people second, third, and fourth. It’s because Trump ran away with it.  And so that was the only drama there was, and then what that all meant.  And Kasich coming in second place makes sense.  It’s the only place he’s been campaigning.  He been going to town halls. He’s been going to diners.

He had to say the other day that he’s further left than Hillary Clinton.  He had to say the other day that he’s effectively a Democrat here and he’s running around acting like one.  We go to South Carolina next where he doesn’t have any infrastructure in place and so forth, where people like Ted Cruz have been planning for South Carolina and the SEC primary and Super Tuesday on March 1st since the get-go of this.”

All too late for the establishment?

As John Kasich should know himself, his chances in South Carolina is quite bleak. In contrast, SC has been very supportive of the Bush family, and Jeb Bush would see it as a chance to regain some lost ground in the area.

Sadly, as things stand, swing states like New Mexico and Colorado are no longer likely to turn Republican anymore, and without them the GOP path to the White House is pretty bleak.

Summarised from: France24, US News, Slate


An avid reader, I consistently engage myself in the areas of current affairs and understanding of international relations, whilst at the same time, am interested in the area of economics and understanding the roles of economic concerns in the political economy. You can follow The Heralding on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Google+. Alternatively subscribe to our newsletter to be kept up to date with the latest articles on the Heralding.

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