Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is troubled with the nomination of Roy Moore as Senator from Alabama. Because he sees Moore as a fringe candidate, and because of the rhetoric coming out of the White House, Gov. Kasich says he wants to “fix the party,” and if it can’t be fixed, he may pull out altogether. Forgive my skepticism, but I think there may be more to the story than Kasich is saying.
In a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Kasich said he is still holding out hope the GOP can shift back to what he sees as a more centrist party. He said, “If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party. Period. That’s the end of it.” He continued, “I mean, I’m worried about our country and my kids’ future. But have I given up? Of course not.”
Kasich then criticized the party for its stance on immigration. “If the Republican Party is going to be anti-immigration, if it’s not going to be worried about the debt, if it’s going to be anti-trade, this is not where our party can be.”
First, being for border security and simply enforcing current federal immigration laws is not “anti-immigration.” And one could argue that voters didn’t want Trump to tackle the debt since he campaigned on not touching Social Security. As for trade, both parties have increasing numbers of voters within their own base who are skeptical of free trade.
So what is Gov. Kasich’s real agenda? As I have said before – on this platform – he enjoys poking his finger in the eye of party conservatives. He earned the condemnation of party leaders when he decided to jump on the Obamacare bandwagon and expand Medicaid in his state – a move that has cost his state dearly.
Call me a skeptic, but Kasich’s plan seems pretty clear to me. Since being denied his party’s nomination for president or vice president in 2016, he has been edgy about all things Republican. So here it is. John Kasich still has his eye on the big prize. He wants to be president. And he knows that won’t happen as a Republican. So he is positioning himself as the right-leaning common sense Independent who can try to siphon off votes from both sides. He hopes some on the left will support his soft positions on Obamacare and immigration, while attracting fiscal conservatives at the same time.
It’s really no gamble at all. He is term-limited in Ohio. It’s president in 2020 or bust. He has run out of political options. So expect this kind of rhetoric to continue. Expect to see Mr. Kasich on CNN more than Fox News. Expect him to form an exploratory committee in late 2018. Expect Gov. Kasich to try to become President Kasich.
Will it work? Probably not. But I said the same thing about that Trump fellow a year back.
Stay tuned . . .