Governor John Kasich of Ohio declared his run for the presidency on Tuesday, becoming the 16th Republican to do so. A seasoned politician, he was the youngest person elected to the Ohio state Senate at 26, spent 18 years in the House, and was chairman of the House Budget Committee in the mid-’90s, where he was a key player in the bill that ultimately ended the government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996.
He’s a religious man who practices his faith with political actions, not just words, but it’s the mix of moderate and conservative positions that makes him something of an outlier from the gaggle of hard-right wingers on the campaign trail, and has led him to become a potential dark horse who could go far in this race. As he tries to make up lost ground and distinguish himself from the other candidates, here are five things worth remembering about John Kasich.
1. He’s got a symbiotic relationship with Fox News.
Fox News and the Republican Party are undeniably tied to each other. In fact, there’s an old argument that many GOPers running for president these days — some of whom have little real chance of winning the nomination — are just angling for a show on Fox News and an opportunity to make boatloads of money.
John Kasich already had his own Fox News show from 2001 to 2007, In the Heartland with John Kasich. He left the network to run for governor in 2009.
While there, he used his platform to talk about balancing the budget – his pet issue – setting the stage for his future candidacy. And Fox News repaid his services: Both anchors Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity have promoted him as a candidate, whether as governor or president.
Hannity especially is a fan, hosting Kasich on his programs many times, conducting softball interviews and openly promoting his candidacy.
In one appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Kasich asked for donations while the network flashed his website information onscreen, triggering a complaint that was later dismissed.
As Media Matters for America outlines, numerous Fox News employees, from Rupert Murdoch to Mike Huckabee, have contributed money to Kasich’s gubernatorial campaigns. (Huckabee is, of course, now also running for the Republican nomination.)
2. He’s got a temper.
He might appear to be a pretty mild-mannered guy – more Scott Walker than Chris Christie. But his temper has pushed away donors before and even other politicians have sent out warnings about Kasich’s occasional outbursts.
- He called a cop an idiot because the officer had the gall to pull him over for passing too close to an emergency vehicle.
- He told The Atlantic’s Molly Ball that neither he nor his wife read the magazine. Then he insulted Ball, saying that her job was “really a dumb thing to do,” later berating her for asking what he “considered a stupid question” in front of a meeting of cabinet officials.
- He has a history of being hostile to the media, too: He’s said he doesn’t read Ohio newspapers because they aren’t an “uplifting experience” and was said to be a complete jerk to both the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board and his gubernatorial opponent, Ed FitzGerald, last year in a meeting with both. Acting like a petulant child, he refused to acknowledge FitzGerald and answer the board’s questions.
Yet despite all that, those who point out his temper also mention how he’s a font of ideas and is always willing to do the work involved in governing. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who worked closely with Kasich while they were both in the House, told Politico, “He has intensity, urgency and passion issues. He doesn’t see public policy as some abstract intellectual thing, but rather as an emotional, right and wrong process that can help or hurt people.”
“He does have a tendency to ready-fire-aim,” said Mike Hartley, who has worked with Kasich both on his 2010 campaign for governor and in his administration. “But here’s the thing – he makes things happen. His will is tremendous, and he gets people to follow him. He’s an ass kicker.”