Ohio Gov. Kasich Struggles Against Low Polling In Presidential Race


John Kasich and Javier Palomarez 10-6-1 (Newseum, JIP photo by Andrew Kreig)

Ohio’s governor is on a major media blitz to boost his popularity in GOP presidential opinion polls, where he has languished despite leadership of a state vital to Republican prospects in 2016.

“No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio,” Gov. John Kasich, above left, told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Javier Palomarez during an on-stage interview Oct. 6 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The Justice Integrity Project covered the event, including the photographs for this column.

Yet Kasich, perhaps the strongest Republican in general election by such traditional measurements as experience, is struggling in the polls. He wins just 2 percent of likely GOP voters in the most recent polls for Florida and California, just 3 percent in Pennsylvania and only 13 percent in his home state of Ohio, where he enjoyed a long congressional career before Wall Street work and the governorship. 

To reassure fund-raisers, he has embarked this week on a heavy travel and media schedule that included an appearance Oct. 8 on the high-rated Sean Hannity Show on Fox News. Kasich was able to hit several of his major campaign themes to the friendly interviewer.

Kevin McCarthyBut even on that show, his party’s near-chaotic in-fighting framed the discussion given the surprise announcement that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was withdrawing from what was generally expected to be election as House speaker, succeeding incumbent John Boehner (R-OH).  

McCarthy, a conservative shown at right, had told his colleagues that he preferred not to assume the top leadership post with only a narrow margin.

But Fox News commentators reported that McCarthy had learned that he was not even likely to win the 218 votes needed to win the post because of fierce opposition from House Republicans even more conservative than he. That left the House with no obvious consensus choice as leader and could endanger even McCarthy’s re-election to his current post. Some Republican experts are even suggesting that the House go outside of itself to find a unifying figure because Congress does not need to be led by a member and few if any consensus choices appear willing to seek the top position, which is third in line to the presidency.

That's the kind of upheaval Kasich seeks to overcome before he is branded a loser and forced to withdraw from the presidential race, as have two other big-state governors, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"I've only been running two months," Kasich reminded Hannity. Ohio's governor amplified that message to the Hispanic chamber president. "We're building our infrastructure," Kasich said as he predicted a long race whereby early leaders in the polls would fade.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Newseum 10-6-15 (JIP Photo by Andrew Kreig)The Hispanic group's invitation provided Kasich an opportunity to sell an immigration policy more nuanced than that of GOP front-runner Donald Trump and most others. Kasich said he would ensure as president that no new illegal immigrants could stay but most of those here could achieve a path to legal residency but not citizenship, except through rigorous means.

He advocated a three-part plan: secure the border, strengthen guest worker programs, and then grant illegal immigrants a path to legal status.

“The public would accept this as a reasonable proposal and I think it would pass the Congress,” he said.

Trump cancelled an appearance before the group this week, which the organization protested by a press release denouncing him for cancelling the talk. The chamber has a special history with Trump stemming from his controversial remarks on immigration early in the summer and the chamber's statement in July denouncing his comments. The chamber said of his cancellation this week:
"Mr. Trump was unwilling to abide by the terms and conditions of the USHCC's Presidential Candidate Q&A Series, the same rules that all participants have previously followed," the statement said. "The USHCC refused to change the format of the forum, show any favoritism, exclude any issues or topics, or grant any immunity from objective scrutiny of his policies. As a result, despite having agreed on numerous occasions, Trump has now reversed his position and has elected to not participate in the Q&A Session -- making him the only candidate from either party to do so."
In a column on the Ohio governor's entitled, Kasich may be the Jon Huntsman of 2016, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported that Kasich "on paper" seemed to be the strongest GOP candidate, much as former Utah Gov. John Huntsman seemed in 2012. 
"But the 2016 GOP presidential primary isn’t being fought on paper," Milbank continued. "It’s being fought in the gutter, and in this venue Kasich has been derided as a career politician and a RINO — Republican In Name Only — because of his supposedly heretical positions on issues such as immigration, Medicaid and the Common Core education standards."
In reality, Kasich’s views are reliably conservative. What’s hurting him, more likely, is his inclusive talk. Kasich preaches to fellow conservatives about doing right by racial minorities, immigrants, gay people, labor unions, the poor and drug addicts. But in this campaign, the “compassionate conservative” label.
Those at the Washington Times (John Kasich backs legal status for illegal immigrants) and Huffington Post (John Kasich Tells Critics Of Medicaid Expansion To Read The Bible) emphasized different themes from his discussion, with excerpts below.
It's not our intention to replicate here the vast amount of coverage others are provided for the 19 other GOP and Democratic candidates still in the race. Instead, we'll provide these occasional snapshots of revealing developments of the top candidates.
Kasich has that potential and yet faces a vital period of his campaign. He needs to reassert upward movement, particularly in polling in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Regarding New Hampshire, Kasich boasted this week that he has appeared in 18 "town hall" discussions, which he praised as terrific way for voters to vet candidates.
Pollsters from the Public Policy Institute announced in their most recent results Oct. 6 that Ohio's governor was the choice of just 4 percent of the population nationally, putting him in a tie for seventh place, far behind Trump, the still national leader. An Oct. 4 poll of New Hampshire voters by NBC and the Wall Street Journal showed that Kasich ranked merely in a tie for seventh place with four percent of the vote. But one announced four days later by Gracia showed him in third place, with 10 percent. What does it mean? One day we'll know.
Next: The Justice Integrity Project coveredBen Carson NPC Oct. 8, 2015 the Oct. 9 speech at the National Press Club by presidential candidate Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon and author who is running second to Trump in most GOP polls. Our photo of his talk is at left.  


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Related News Coverage

Washington Post, Kasich may be the Jon Huntsman of 2016, Dana Milbank, Oct. 6, 2015. On paper, John Kasich is a perfect candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He has a Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Newseum 10-6-15 (JIP Photo by Andrew Kreig)long record as a fiscal and social conservative, and he’s the popular governor of Ohio, a must-win state for any Republican hoping to occupy the Oval Office. (Kasich is shown in a JIP photo on Oct. 6,   2015.)

Huffington Post, John Kasich Tells Critics Of Medicaid Expansion To Read The Bible, Igor Bobic, Oct. 6, 2015. Conservatives aren't taking it well. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has a suggestion for those who criticize his decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act: Read the Bible. In a Q&A session hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, the presidential candidate talked up his willingness to do what he thinks is right, even if that put him at odds with members of his own party. "You know how many people were yelling at me?" he said at the event, which was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "I go to events where people are yelling at me. You know what I tell them? I mean, God bless them, I'm telling them a little bit better than this."

Washington Times, John Kasich backs legal status for illegal immigrants, Seth McLaughlin, Oct. 6, 2015. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said non-violent illegal immigrants are here to stay, that trying to deport them would cause “sheer panic” among Hispanics, and that the U.S. must find a way of legalizing them. Toeing a more liberal line on immigration than some of his rivals in the 2016 GOP presidential race, Kasich vowed during an appearance Tuesday before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that he would not lead an aggressive crackdown on illegal immigrants. “The idea that we are going to pick these folks up and ship them out, I mean that is just unbelievable,” Mr. Kasich told Javier Palomarez, the group’s president in a question-and-answer session at the Newseum in Washington. “What are we going to do, ride into neighborhoods and announce ‘Come on out, now you are going to the border’?”

National Press Club, Carson says he will continue to 'expose' the press, Wesley G. Pippert, Oct. 9, 2015. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told a National Press Club Luncheon Oct. 9 that "I will continue to expose the press" in an effort to prod it until it fulfills the spirit of the Constitution to be the ally of the people. "I don't particularly care whether the press likes me," the neurosurgeon said in a wide-ranging speech that frequently returned to critical comments about the media. Though his words were strong, Carson delivered them in his usual soft-spoken even gentle manner. Carson spoke to the sell-out audience in the Club Ballroom, using only notes. His wife Candy accompanied him for what was billed as an address about their book, A More Perfect Union.

The Hill, Shock! McCarthy drops from Speaker's race, Scott Wong, Oct. 8, 2015. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has dropped out of the race for House Speaker, shocking Capitol Hill and raising questions about who can lead the House Republican Conference. Republicans were to meet Thursday at noon to elect a new Speaker, following Rep. John Boehner's news that he would retire at the end of the month. Instead, they received the surprising news from McCarthy, shown in a file photo. "I think I shocked some of you," McCarthy joked to reporters after his bombshell. He said he would stay on as majority leader, but believed Republicans needed to unify around a "new face." "I feel good about the decision. I think we're only going to be stronger," he said. McCarthy suggested it was unclear whether he could have won the 218 votes on the floor needed to be elected Speaker.

Columbus Free Press.com (OH), Why it Could be President Bush & VP Kasich, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Sept. 20, 2015. Get ready: the Republicans may not know it, but they’ve all but certified their ticket for 2016, and they will probably win. The saturation bloviation that followed this week’s Republican presidential debates missed some monumental moments, including:

  1. There was one (and ONLY one) candidate on the stage that had anything meaningful to say. It was Rand Paul. What he said about war and marijuana were of serious significance.
  2. The GOP hard core on the stage and in the audience certified their obeisance to a free pass for the horrific presidency of George W. Bush, thereby opening the door for his brother, who can almost certainly win if he runs with the guy from Ohio.


Catching Our Attention on Other Recent 2016 Election Issues

New York Times, The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election, Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish, Oct. 9, 2015. Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House.From Fracking to Finance, a Torrent of Campaign Cash. They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.

Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in exploiting the world of “super PACs,” which, unlike candidates’ own campaigns, can raise unlimited sums from any donor, and which have so far amassed the bulk of the money in the election. The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election -- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans.

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionWashington Post, Donald Trump plots his second act, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Oct. 7, 2015. In an hour-long interview with the Washington Post at his 26th-floor office in Trump Tower, the Republican front-runner ruminated on TV ads, a book, new policies and the many obstacles ahead. Trump is shown in a Gage Skidmore photo from the CPAC convention in February.

The Atlantic, Hillary Clinton Tempts Progressives to Embrace Cheneyism, Conor Friedersdorf, Oct 8, 2015. An influential progressive writer published a blunt assessment of Hillary Clinton this week, declaring her unusually willing to transgress against civic and legal standards. “From her adventures in cattle trading to chairing a policymaking committee in her husband's White House to running for Senate in a state she’d never lived in to her effort to use superdelegates to overturn 2008 primary results to her email servers,” Matthew Yglesias declared at Vox.com, “Clinton is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas.” Yet the article in question isn’t a takedown of Clinton. It is a strange endorsement of the presidential candidate. The tendencies described above demonstrate  “exactly the mentality any Democrat would need to move the needle on policy in 2017,” he writes.

He urges Democrats to support a corrupt Washington insider with an ends-justify-the-means attitude because he believes she’ll advance his preferred domestic agenda. “Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority, and Clinton is almost uniquely suited to deliver the goods,” he writes. “More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned.”

New York Post, Hillary has long history of beating up Bill behind closed doors: book, Maureen Callahan, Oct. 4, 2015. She’s on a mission to be a softer, warmer, funnier candidate — but according to a new book, the real Hillary Clinton is so volatile and prone to violent outbursts that she terrorizes staff, Secret Service agents and even her own husband. In The Clintons’ War On Women (Skyhorse), out Oct. 13, political strategist Roger Stone details Hillary’s abusive behavior — dating back to the Clintons’ days in Arkansas, where Bill served as governor.

Politico, Joe Biden Can't Campaign on Tragedy, Peter Beinart, Oct. 8, 2015. If Joe Biden wants to run for president, fine. But not this way. The vice president seems to be building his bid on emotion, not Joe Bidensubstance—and that’s unlikely to carry him very far. On Wednesday, the group Draft Biden released an ad that supposedly explained why Americans need him as president. It’s mostly about the death of Biden’s wife and daughter in 1972, and the way he found “redemption” through his surviving sons — one of whom, Beau, died of brain cancer this May. The ad closes with Biden saying some extremely vague things about Americans being “on the cusp of some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in the history of mankind,” and their responsibility to “translate those unprecedented capabilities into a greater measure of happiness and meaning.” David Axelrod called the ad “tasteless” and “exploitative.” It was also vacuous. That same day, Politico reported that Biden himself had leaked to Maureen Dowd the story that his dying son Beau urged him to run.

Lurking behind all this is the awkward question of what Biden believes that distinguishes him from both Hillary and her main rival, Bernie Sanders. In a Democratic Party that has moved left, Sanders is finding success by running as the one candidate who can restore economic fairness because he isn’t bought by the ultra-rich. Hillary is struggling because her progressivism seems less authentic. Liberals remember that she was once hawkish, pro-financial deregulation, and tough on crime. So was Biden. If Hillary supported the 1994 crime bill that Black Lives Matter despises, Biden authored it. He also backed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act and the Defense of Marriage Act and opposed federal funding for abortions. Anita Hill has criticized him for the way he ran the Senate hearings in which she testified against Clarence Thomas. Elizabeth Warren has criticized him for supporting legislation that made it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. (Biden was, after all, a senator from Delaware).

Politico, Exclusive: Biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish; The vice president is mourning. He’s also calculating, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Oct. 6, 2015. Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about Beau Biden Wikipediahis late son (shown in an official photo) since August. Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation. According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.Politico, Judges refuse to align Clinton email FOIA lawsuits, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 8, 2015. Federal district court judges in Washington have unanimously rejected a bid by the Obama Administration to try to coordinate aspects of nearly 40 Freedom of Information Act lawsuits relating to the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides.  The Justice Department had requested the coordination process for FOIA cases involving Clinton's emails, as well as those of aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan, Huma Abedin and Philippe Reines-all of whom recently provided the State Department with records in response to requests for any potential federal records in their possession.

Washington Post, Ben Carson inspired a generation of black doctors. Now we don’t know what to make of his second act, Damon Tweedy, Oct. 8, 2015. Damon Tweedy, M.D., is an assistant professor of Ben Carson and George Bush in 2008 Medal of Freedompsychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and author of "Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine." When I first met Ben Carson in 1996, at his luxurious home outside Baltimore, I stood before one of my heroes. I was a college senior at the nearby University of Maryland at Baltimore County, and Carson was a leading neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Today, Carson’s greatest fans are no longer those within the black community. Instead, in a bizarre twist, he has become a major star among the far-right – the faction of the Republican Party often perceived as being indifferent, or worse, to African Americans. Many black doctors – given our longstanding adulation of Carson – are puzzled and discouraged by this evolution. The man who built his brand as a black icon has found a new home. And it’s a place where many of us feel unwelcome. As portrayed in a White House photo, President George W. Bush bestowed the Medal of Freedom on Carson for his accomplishments.

Seven Days: Vermont's Independent Voice, Anger Management: Sanders Fights For Employees Except His Own, Paul Heintz, Oct. 8, 2015. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced three months ago that Bernie Sanders Officialhe'd seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the New York Times described him as a "grumpy grandfather-type." That caricature has persisted — most notably in a recent Washington Post article with the irresistible headline: "7 ways Bernie Sanders reminds us of our grumpy grandpa." According to some who have worked closely with Sanders over the years, "grumpy grandpa" doesn't even begin to describe it. They characterize the senator as rude, short-tempered and, occasionally, downright hostile. Though Sanders has spent much of his life fighting for working Vermonters, they say he mistreats the people working for him.

Washington Post, Carly Fiorina’s first political campaign had a surprising problem: Money, Robert Samuels, Oct. 4, 2015. Her staff said they loved working with the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Until their checks Carly Fiorinadidn’t come in.  Famed California pollster Joe Shumate was found dead in his home one month before Election Day 2010, surrounded by sheets of polling data he labored over for the flailing Senate bid of Carly Fiorina. But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president. When Fiorina learned that the campaign was in debt, she was furious. But she also refused to pay up, saying the problem belonged to the campaign itself — Carly for California.

Many campaigns end up in debt, including that of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who did not close out the $20 million she owed from her 2008 presidential campaign until January 2013. Struggling campaigns often set up payment plans or hold fundraisers to pay their bills. Fiorina’s staff members said they asked her to do the same. She declined.

Washington Post, Hillary Clinton comes out against Obama’s Pacific trade deal, Anne Gearan and David Nakamura, Oct. 7, 2015. The move puts her at odds with both the Obama administration and the position Hillary Clintonshe championed as secretary of state. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Wednesday that she opposes an expansive 12-nation Pacific Rim free trade accord finalized by the Obama administration this week. Clinton said in an interview with PBS that she would not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) based on what she knows of the deal so far. The 30-chapter text of the agreement, which negotiators concluded Monday, has not been made public. Clinton's stance aligns her with most of the Democratic Party, including her closest rivals on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, both running for the Democratic nomination, have opposed the trade deal. Obama won new "fast-track" powers in the spring with support from most of the Republican congressional caucus, but only a fraction of Democrats, in the face of fierce opposition from organized labor and environmental groups. Just 28 of 188 House Democrats voted in favor of that legislation.

National Review, Trump Wrongs the Right, Rich Lowry & Ramesh Ponnuru, Oct. 5, 2015. It’s almost impossible to fathom what an unusual candidate Donald Trump is. Put aside his lack of political experience (except for his serial flirtations with running for president over the years). Never mind his violation of nearly every rule of thumb of politics: Always shoot up, never down. Avoid throwing reporters out of your press conferences. Pretend you don’t care about the polls. Maintain tight message discipline. Don’t wear hats! Disregard his constant feuds with nearly everyone, his blatant self-contradiction on basic policy questions, and his general outlandishness.

The most elemental reason for Trump’s rise is that over the decades he has built a nearly universally recognized brand associated with toughness and success, and many Americans worry that we are running out of both. Trump’s business is being famous — and he’s really good at it. To be a media fixture for some 30 years in New York (the media capital of the world), always finding the next new thing even when the last thing hasn’t worked out so well, is no small feat. It speaks to a shrewdness, a drive, and a shamelessness that few can match.