John Kasich

The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich

The Ohio governor's campaign wants you to believe he's a rebel and iconoclast. But really he's just a jerk.

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John Kasich/Twitter

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will announce his not-so-secret presidential ambitions tomorrow from the campus of his alma mater, Ohio State University. USA Today on Sunday ran a fawning profile of Kasich's potential path to the presidency, which it admits is hindered by the fact that a) most Americans don't know who Kasich is, and b) those that do don't seem too keen on him becoming president. 

But "maybe the doubters don't realize what a big deal it is to be the governor of Ohio," USA Today offers. "Every time Kasich addresses a group of Republicans, he talks about his landslide re-election in 2014. Almost without fail, several people say: 'Wow.' Once, in Georgia, someone gasped."

Ah, yes, Kasich's landslide 2014 victory, which Ohio Republicans helped bring about by spending hundreds of thousands to keep a libertarian competitor out of the race.

While no one's suggesting Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl could have won the governorship, he would almost certainly have taken conservative votes away Kasich. Let's also remember that Kasich's Democrat opponent, Ed FitzGerald, was all but abandoned by his party in the final months of campaigning after scandals involving his running mate's taxes, his own potential affair, and his onetime lack of a valid Ohio driver's license. So Kasich's "landslide victory" (he ultimately beat Fitzgerald 64 to 33 percent) is as much a product of Democrat self-sabotage and GOP sabotage of the Libertarian candidate than anything else. 

If you talk to Ohioans—and Ohio is my home state, so I do—you'll find that most people don't really like Kasich, not even Republicans. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative

Montel Williams/Twitter

In Politico yesterday, Alex Isenstadt explores what he calls Kasich's "anger management problem."

Kasich has "a resume seemingly tailor-made for a serious run for the Republican nomination: blue-collar upbringing, congressional budget hawk, Fox News commentator, investment banker, successful two-term governor of Ohio," writes Isenstadt. "But there's just one problem, according to interviews with dozens of those who've worked in politics alongside him at various points over the last several decades: his short fuse." Isenstadt collects myriad, anonymous examples of people (including wealthy donors) that Kasich has pissed off with his prickly personality. Even Sen. John McCain—not exactly known as a model of decorum and restraint—has spoken of Kasich's "hair-trigger temper."

Kasich's crew is trying to play this potential liability as a sign of the governor's authenticity and willingness to call the proverbial spade a spade, something they say voters will recognize and appreciate. I guess we'll see. There's no doubt that shtick plays well with the GOP base (see Bush the second) but Kasich's particular brand of brimstone seems more pouty narcissist than rhetorical rebel or iconoclast. Consider this anecdote, from Politico

Matt Mayer, a conservative activist in Ohio, can recall an incident from 2011. He was walking down the street with a friend when they ran into Kasich and his entourage. Only months earlier, Mayer, who was working at a think tank called the Buckeye Institute, had released a report calling the state's government bloated and inefficient.

Spotting the two, the governor ignored Mayer but pulled aside his friend, telling him something out of earshot. The friend walked back over. "I'm supposed to tell you the report's wrong," the friend said.

To the governor's detractors, run-ins like those underscore his inability to accommodate the views of others. "When you criticize Kasich, you're sort of dead to him," said Mayer. "That's the way it works."

Want further evidence? See this 2014 video of Kasich meeting with the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board, in which Kasich is upset by people asking him about an amendment to the budget bill he signed preventing rape-crisis counselors from talking to patients about abortion. Kasich doesn't just refuse to answer a question from Democratic then-challenger FitzGerald, he refuses to even acknowledge the man is talking. When a guy from the Dealer prompts him to answer FitzGerald, Kasich's response: "Oh, did you have a question?" And it goes on like that for a bit. 

Then there's the time Kasich repeatedly told a crowd how a cop who pulled him over for a traffic violation was an "idiot." The time he snapped at a woman over his Medicaid policies at a conference full of GOP donors. ("I don't know about you, lady, but when I get to the Pearly Gates, I'm going to have an answer for what I've done for the poor.") The time he told a group of lobbyists, "If you're not on the bus, we'll run over you with the bus"… the 2012 state of the state address wherein he impersonated a person with Parkinson's disease… the time during his 2010 campaign when he mocked then-govenor Ted Strictland for having grown up poor. 

When the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature refused to back Medicaid expansion in 2013, an angry Kasich went around them by appealing to the state's Controlling Board. (This is basically the gist of why Vox writer Andrew Prokop called Kasich "the most interesting GOP presidential contender"). This June, unsurprisingly, Kasich vetoed a budget-bill item that would have limited the Controlling Board's near-unilateral authority to accept federal grants for the state.    

John Kasich/Twitter

Perhaps none of this would be so bad if Kasich was nearly as politically brilliant or unstoppable as he and supporters claim. But poke any of his cherished claims—the landslide '14 victory, the lowering of Ohio taxes (rather, Kasich is a fan of what's better described as "tax shifting")—and they kind of fall apart. And in the hands of his marketing team, Kasich's claim to blue-collar roots and sympathy comes off awkwardly hollow: 

My dad carried mail on his back. A lot of people worked in steel plants, iron works. The kind of stuff you guys are doing. So, growing up in that was good, because, see, I kind of – not totally – but I kind of get you guys. I didn't come highfalutin, you know what I'm saying?

When one RB Abrasive factory employee, a 21-year-old, tells Kasich his biggest dream is to own his own house someday, Kasich seems stunned, then asks, "Do you save? You can't spend all the money on fishing gear." I know lower-class white males aren't typically a group we reserve much offense for, but the random fishing comment seems about as appropriate as if Kasich had told a bunch of young black dudes not to spend all their money on 40s or ladies not to waste their paychecks on shoes.

"The thing about John Kasich is, he's kind of a jerk," wrote Molly Ball at The Atlantic in April. It's quick becoming the conventional wisdom about Kasich—whom, Ball informs us, has a Machiavelli quote pinned to his office wall.

I spent several days with Kasich in Ohio in February, and during that time he told me, repeatedly, that he did not read The Atlantic—and his wife didn't, either. He said that my job, writing about politics and politicians, was "really a dumb thing to do." … At a Kasich press conference I attended at a charter school in Cleveland, he interrupted several speakers, wandered off to rummage on a nearby teacher's desk as he was being introduced, and gleefully insulted the Cleveland Browns, to a smattering of boos.

Kasich has previously said that he does not read Ohio newspapers, either (they don't provide him with an "uplifting experience"). 

Kasich may have been "the Paul Ryan of his day" when he was in Washington, but perhaps the reform-minded yet combative upstart who won't take no for an answer has a shelf life. Politicians are supposed to evolve and become more effective with time, and what can be admirable and ambitious at 40 just seems immature, churlish, and curmudgeonly by 63.  

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  1. What an awesome list of dickery. Kasich is truly the worst (I know!).

    1. I don’t know why, but my favorite is him going out of his way to tell Ohio newspaper reporters and Molly Ball of the Atlantic that he does NOT read their publications. Like, did he get his media training from The Game?

        1. Dude actually sounds kind of fun.

  2. When the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature refused to back Medicaid expansion in 2013, an angry Kasich went around them by appealing to the state’s Controlling Board.

    Should he prevail, he’s going to have to wrestle Obama’s pen and phone away from him.

    1. Well shouldn’t there be more White House lawn wrestling, really?

      1. Meh. It would just be another staged event. Like a president wrestling the Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll to lock the furry vote or something.

  3. This just in: Career politician is an irascible, know-it-all, manipulative egomaniac.
    AND IN LATE BREAKING NEWS: Water is – to all appearances – WET!!!!

    1. But he is no Donald Trump, that is for sure…

  4. Some time back I read where Mark Levin was exclaiming that after having worked in Washington he discovered that as bad as he thought those people were before they were exponentially worse.

    Positions of power really do attract the worst kinds of people.

    1. Mark Levin is the worst. So in a way he would know.

      1. He yells way too much. I bet him and Kasich would be buddies.

        I don’t tend to mind what he says for the few moments I can stand to listen to his 1950s angry voice, but there may be a lot that I’m missing.

  5. Kasich also has the annoying habit of saying “at the end of the day” almost every time he opens his mouth:

    https://reason.com/blog/2015/05…..nt_5275863

    1. At the end of the day it may be necessary.

    2. At the end of the day, if I feel this is my call, I will come back again and again and

    again.

    3. At the end of the day, it means that my side is not always totally right and the other side totally wrong.

    4. At the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is a pro-life, you know, being in a position of being pro-life.

    5. I appreciate what other people say, I appreciate all their advice, but, at the end of the day, I’m going to decide it when I decide to decide it

    1. 6. At the end of the day….At the end of the day….At the end of the day….At the end of the day…At the end of the day…

      7. At the end of the day, it always comes back to Ohio, doesn’t it?

      8. But at the end of the day, I respect people that have a different position beyond that.

      9. But look, at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I think is a pro-life ? you know, looking, being in a position of being pro-life.

      10. But, at the end of the day, we need to represent the taxpayers who have made enormous sacrifices.

      11. And you know what? At the end of the day, it gets down to Obama and Romney.

    2. 12. As governor of the state, I inherited a total mess, and at the end of the day we’re running surpluses.

      13. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we have courts that are in a position to protect us when government wants to come into our lives.

      14. At the end of the day, I feel pretty optimistic about things.

      15. But at the end of the day, what I have found, where I travel, I don’t change my message.

      16. We can fight for a while but, at the end of the day, like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did, you have a drink and you say we are going to have put the country first.

      17. But at the end of the day, the Congressional Budget Office will be the ones that will come up with the bottom line numbers.

      1. Guy works long days. Why do you hate him for his selfless efforts?

      2. At the end of the day, I’m sick of his shit.

    3. 18. We know what the shape of this looks like, and at the end of the day, the news for the American people is we’re going to balance the budget and fix this economy.

      19. And at the end of the day, the truthful American?one of the great stories of America is we fight over deeply-held principles, and at the end, we make a deal, and we advance the country.

      20. I think I’ve made it clear, seven years scored by arithmetic done by the Congressional Budget Office, we’ll fight our priorities, and at the end of the day, we’ll end up with an agreement that’ll save the country.

      21. I don’t know if it’ll be workable at the end of the day.

      22. And at the end of the day, maybe, just maybe, we can change the culture in Washington and save our kids.

      23. They go home, they blame someone else, and at the end of the day, nothing gets done except we go deeper in debt.

      24. But, frankly, at the end of the day, voters don’t vote on the basis of vice president.

      1. +1 And at the end of the day
        we should give thanks and pray
        to the one
        to the one

        1. When was the last time an actual supprter referred to Obama as “the one?” I don’t recall it EVER happening, but if it did, it was probably in about March of 2009. In summary, your joke is no longer funny.

      2. The are some who say at the end of the day it depends on what the meaning of “is” is. You’re either with us or against us.

      3. At the end of the day, Kasich can’t read enough of his own end of the day quotes.

    4. Kasich used his pet phrase 4 times in this one interview:

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb…..et_11-20b/

      1. Let me be clear. At the end of the day, this is, frankly, annoying.

        1. Some say…

        1. If I have to go one day more in my life listening to him say at the end of the day, like he is some master of the house, I’ll dream a dream of beating him red and black until he sees stars.

    5. Using “at the end of day” should be, you know, a civil offense.

    6. God, I hate that phrase. The person saying it is transparently trying to be profound or a “forward thinker” but just comes across as a unthinking idiot.

      At the end of the day, we’re all dead.

  6. There’s no doubt that shtick plays well with the GOP base

    Do you mean to say that shtick doesn’t play among other bases, or that this particular “plain-spokenness” shtick plays well?

    1. you’ll find that most people don’t really like Kasich, not even Republicans

      Just call the base Shticklers

  7. When one RB Abrasive factory employee, a 21-year-old, tells Kasich his biggest dream is to own his own house someday, Kasich seems stunned, then asks, “Do you save? You can’t spend all the money on fishing gear.”

    No one is better-placed to give spending advice than someone in government.

    1. And his reach to show and make clear he IS highfalutin….i wasnt always so amazing. I came from crap. I used to be just like you. Sort of.
      Wow. He really does sound like a jerk. I thought he seemed reasonable a few times. That’s some disturbing news.
      But I believe it.

  8. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative.

    Good thing that politics is not about issues but is a popularity contest! Who cares if Bernie Sanders is a self-identified Socialist, I like him!

    Sorry, ENB, but since you wrote about his likeability, why didn’t you mention if you thought he was good looking? I assume that comes just after “likeable” in your vote consideration?

    1. You honestly think the average voter cares more about policy than perceived likability?

      1. You honestly think the average voter cares more about policy than perceived likability?

        But does he look presidential?

    2. also, re: I assume that comes just after “likeable” in your vote consideration?

      Don’t be silly, I don’t vote!

    3. The only reason likeability matters to me is foreign policy.

      Would you really want a guy like Kasich in charge of our military or diplomatic relations?

      1. of course not, that’s why i support trump!.

  9. from the campus of his alma mater, Ohio State University

    C’mon, ENB – get it right! You even tell us YOU’RE from the Horse Chestnut state! You should know better. So:

    his alma mater, AN Ohio State University

    YOU’RE WELCOME

    PS Thanks for the UP! You can keep Toledo!

    1. PPS I didn’t know Kasich was SUCH a dick. Not that I was going to vote for anyone from the teams (prolly not voting at all, except I want to vote for myself again), but – good to know. Just in case I got amnesia and thought for a second a politician might be anything but a self-serviing, irritating prick

      1. Yeah, I started looking into him thinking maybe I’d be pleasantly surprised, and maybe people I knew just talked shit about him b/c he actually was making smart budget cuts or whatever…. but yeah, no.

        1. He sounds remarkably like a Team Red version of now-former (mercifully!) Akron Mayor “The” Don Plusquellic.

          Don’s rampant assholish behavior finally, FINALLY brought him down, at which time he immediately began to blame everyone but himself and tried to paint himself as a martyr. His replacement lasted almost a month before some dumbass scandal screwed him. I have no idea who my mayor is, and I really don’t care.

    2. Hey, I left off “the,” that counts for something right?
      sincerely,
      an Ohio University alum

      1. Ahhh. Athens. Where sobriety goes to die.

      2. Ah, yer one of those people who think OU is owed royalties or something for every time the Jesse Owens pictures of him in his track uniform show up (it just says “OHIO” on it, as was the style at the time).

        I kid.

        Maybe.

  10. Looks like someone got

    [dons Fist’s sunglasses]

    …too smug for his own britches.

    1. That’s not how that works.

  11. All good points, but if he stood up during a debate and said ” Fuck you, cut spending!” I’d at least think about voting for him.

    1. Wouldn’t that really be negated by — “I don’t know about you, lady, but when I get to the Pearly Gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor”?

      That answer being “I gave them some of the money I stole”.

      1. Maybe he is talking about using Free Market Economics to uplift the poor in his home state?

        Because honestly, if there is a heaven and hell, fucking leftists are going to be the first ones to get raped by a pitchfork for what their patronization has done to black people and their culture.

        1. Yes, an extremely hot pitchfork, at that.

          Hey speaking of which – if one is condemned to Hell with constant, eternal torture, wouldn’t someone’s nervous system be so damaged that they no longer feel pain at some point? Or, if one feels nothing but pain for eternity, doesn’t it eventually become the norm and you wouldn’t really notice it anymore?

          Off topic, but I’ve always wondered…

          1. Well, the nervous system issue isn’t relevant ’cause you’re not being tormented in your physical body. I think the “new normal” effect would be a legitimate issue absent some sort of “miraculous” intervention, which raises some serious issues about God’s “mysterious ways” and questionable psychology.

        2. Are there separate drinking fountains in heaven?

          1. One can only hope.

  12. The jerk store called and they are running out of Kasich.

    I am confused by one thing: is hanging out with Montel Williams considered a negative? Montel wears ugly affliction shirts, has a kick-ass juicer and can get me a pretty sweet payday loan – he is my kind of guy.

    1. I don’t think it’s a negative, but it is kind of funny?

      1. It is kind of funny, yes, but at least he is not posing for photos with Ricki Lake.

  13. “gleefully insulted the Cleveland Browns”

    We’ll, he’s got that going for him.

    -Browns fan

    1. Beat me to it. Fuck you.

    2. Yeah, no one insults the Browns more than Browns fans.

      1. You’re a Yinzer now. So double fuck you.

    3. I pretty much forgot everything else that was written in this article once I got to that line. Amazing.

  14. What happened to the brickbat?

    1. I heard that John Kasich appropriated the brickbat and will redistribute just before evening descends upon Ohio.

      Evidently that’s a special time for him and his idiom.

  15. The omission of “The” before Ohio State University did not go unnoticed by this fellow alumni of OU.

    1. I’m sorry… that you had to attend that school.

  16. It’s a good day for alt-text

    1. Yep. All decent.

    2. It’s a good day for alt-text

      That is the upcoming sequel to Ice Cube’s “Today Was a Good Day.”

  17. Ah, yes, Kasich’s landslide 2014 victory, which Ohio Republicans helped bring about by spending hundreds of thousands to keep a libertarian competitor out of the race.

    OK, I vote for libertarian candidates whenever I get a chance, but anyone who thinks the presence or absence of a libertarian on the ballot made the difference in a Kasich landslide has been smoking too much libertarian weed.

  18. f you talk to Ohioans?and Ohio is my home state, so I do?you’ll find that most people don’t really like Kasich, not even Republicans. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative.

    Brown should be really embarrassed about this one. It reeks of someone who mistakes anecdotes for consensus. It reminds me of the Manhattan socialite who expressed shock at Nixon’s victory: “But I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon!”

  19. Well, maybe it’s about time we tried having a total asshole for president for a change. It’s so crazy, it just might work.

    1. Because it was you who left this post I have spent some time wondering what nuance I missed about it rather than responding with a “Where have you been?” – type comment.

      Basically, Warty, I don’t see what you did there.

      1. All presidents are assholes. But it might be fun to have a paranoid, vindictive Nixon-style asshole for a while, wouldn’t it?

        As for where I’ve been: busy. And the infestation of people who should be posting at Free Republic makes this place less attractive than it used to be.

        1. But it might be fun to have a paranoid, vindictive Nixon-style asshole for a while, wouldn’t it?

          Like we haven’t for the last six years.

          1. Zing!

            Sad, but true.

        2. Thanks – now I see the ideal mental case you had in mind for the job.

          I also see what you mean

          1. Honestly, I’m now 100% behind Trump. We’re not going to get a serious president, so we might as well hope for maximum lulz.

  20. I always thought that Kasich was a joke candidate running for the ego trip.

    Then ENB tells me he’s such a big meany asshole and dickish to reporters that even St McCain doesn’t like him.

    I’m going to have to give the guy another look.

    1. COZMOS NO LIKE THIS GUY SO ME LIKE THIS GUY

      1. But he’s also a book larnin fag.

    2. Oh shit look out. You made Warty lay down his ALL CAPS caveman sarcasm. You’re in for it now.

      1. Stop fucking this place up with your incorrect views!

        1. I can’t just unshit the bed.

  21. Then there’s the time Kasich repeatedly told a crowd how a cop who pulled him over for a traffic violation was an “idiot.”

    Kasich thinks one of our heroes in blue is an idiot? How scandalous…

  22. BTW since when do libertarians care about John Fucking McCain’s approval of someone?

  23. So how’s he different than 90% of politicians? Nearly all of them are arrogant jerks. It’s essentially a job requirement.

  24. This completely failed to inspire any animosity towards Kasich in me. You say an elected politician exaggerates his victories, plays hardball with his adversaries, and tells the press to fuck off? Quick get me some pearls so I can clutch them.

    1. Between this and the Dalmia article, Reason is having a rough day.

  25. At the end of the day, he hasn’t got a prayer.

  26. The Trumpification of Reason marches on.

    Kasich is probably the most qualified pol in the race, and Reason comes out with a hard hitting expose on what a jerk he is.

    While what we really want to know is: is it boxers or briefs?

    Please let the next article be about Hillary’s latest pants suit. Oh, please.

    Enquiring Minds Need To Know!

    I’m only at Reason because my subscription to the National Enquirer ran out .

    1. Personal qualities matter as well, not just the items formally listed on one’s resumee.

  27. He will be VP on the ticket.

    Bush/Rubio + Kasich = a chance to win FL and OH

    also works with Walker + Kasich

  28. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,

    http://www.Careersonline10.tk

  29. Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative.

    So perfect personality for president

  30. yeah….he’d make a good budget director for the next president though. they have to ignore a lot of people, or otherwise tell them to go away. and since they’re appointed, they can use as much flowery language as they want too.

  31. Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a jerk.

    1. Hey!

  32. Living in NEOH, I can confirm that Kasich is a fan of the social-welfare state. It’s his means of assuaging his altruism, of course with other people’s money, all while claiming to do the Lord’s work.

    And with his attitude, seems he’d be just as bad as the current POTUS (I won) at inter-personal relationships outside his immediate cadre…

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  37. This article is spot on. I have lived in ohio all my life and kasich is a grade A ass hole.. one of the rudest and most ignorant/arrogant politicians I’ve witnessed. I’m tired of the GOP commentators and news sources speaking do highly of him when it’s evident that so many Ohioans (conservative and liberal alike) can’t stand him. Seems to me that if a politician is hated by his state, that should serve as a red flag to observers across the nation. It doesn’t matter anyways, kasich can’t and won’t survive the smear campaigns after some of his most obnoxious moments have dome light shed on them…

    1. “Hated in his state” doesn’t mean you and your three friends. He has the highest governor approval rating ANY of governor in the race (60%+), so you’re talking complete nonsense.

  38. You know who else is smug? Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg. Jeff Bezos. And the (late) Steve Jobs.

    Basically anyone who’s Type-A and trying to accomplish something with every minute of their lives.

    I’ve followed John Kasich for 25 years, when the author of this article was likely still playing hop-scotch with her girlfriends at recess.

    So, some history for those of you who were in grammar school or still in diapers:

    Being a C-SPAN junkie in high school/college I watched the events leading up to the Gingrich revolution first-hand. While in the minority party, Kasich used to submit his own Republican budget by himself, even though no one, including most Republicans cared. When Gingrich took over, he made Kasich the budget chairman, which ultimately led to the first sets of balanced budgets since the Kennedy administration. Something obviously not seen since. 18.6 trillion dollar debt and counting.

    I’m an anti-theist and a libertarian, and despite some minor disagreements I have with Kasich, I’ve been hoping for years that he’d run again: he’s the best candidate the Republican’s have put forth since Ronald Reagan and by far the best chance of defeating the The Emperor in the pantsuit. And, even if he does believe in a safety net for the downtrodden (boo effing hoo) and talk about meeting St. Peter, there’s no one better at balancing a budget in the race from either side. Period.

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