Ideastream reports Governor Kasich kicked off his re-election campaign with a speech before the Ohio Newspaper Association. The Governor covered a multitude of topics and was asked about his relationship with the tea party, a group, it was noted, that has given him trouble in the past over such issues as Medicaid expansion. Ideastream explained Kasich “told the Ohio Newspaper Association that he and tea party members share many of the same concerns, such as the national debt.” Kasich said,
“I don’t sort of look at Republicans and say, ‘Are you wearing a Tea Party shirt,’ or whatever,” Kasich said. “They’re just part of our party. And they’re part of a—and not just part of our party. I don’t think the Tea Party is just connected to Republicans. You don’t—anybody’s who’s concerned about the growth of government, the effectiveness of government, the spending that government has.”
That’s a stumbling, bumbling response if there’s ever been one and sounds a bit less emphatic than Kasich’s appeal to the tea party before he was elected governor.
Standing outside the Ohio Statehouse in April of 2009 in front of over 5,000 liberty-minded Ohioans, candidate-to-be Kasich declared, “I’m one of you.” (Tea Party Rally, January 2009, 8:53 mark)
And in January 2010, then candidate Kasich left no question where his heart and mind were when he stated at a press conference, “I think I was in the tea party before there was a tea party.” (CNN, January 14, 2010)
But Governor Kasich is a changed man since his first time around the campaign circuit. His eyes are no longer set solely on the governorship. Kasich’s ultimate prize is the White House and he has subscribed to the oft-failed strategy of becoming more moderate to get there. His implementation of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and his distancing himself from the tea party reflects this new strategy.
Kasich’s leftward move, though, has left him with a smaller base. And Governor Kasich must have an inkling that this is the case, which may explain why he was not able to eke out a coherent response on his shared concerns with the tea party.
So as Governor Kasich flails around the campaign circuit the next nine months trying to square his expansion of Medicaid with his professed fiscal conservatism, it’s only fitting to leave him with a reminder of what candidate-to-be-John-Kasich once said that brought cheers from a tea party crowd and energized a base.
“And too many of the politicians – Republican and Democratic alike – with their earmarks, and their overspending, and their buying public votes in the short-term to give themselves short-term success at the expense of our children – it must be stopped.” (Emphasis intended.) (Tea Party Rally, April 2009, 6:00 minute mark)
Ideastream’s article can be found here.