Presidential Profile, Part III: John Kasich works to stand out in crowded field


John Kasich talks to reporters in the spin room after the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (Jeffrey Phelps/AP)

There are currently 15 major Republican candidates for president. When Ohio Gov. John Kasich originally announced his candidacy, he was the 16th to do so in a field that has hardly narrowed. 

As seen in the Republican debate Tuesday night, Kasich has worked hard to bill himself as the moderate candidate in a densely-populated Republican primary. While this has been effective in distinguishing himself from his opponents, it may not be the best campaign strategy in a primary driven by the conservative base, as Nate Silver wrote on his fivethirtyeight blog:

“Kasich, like Jon Huntsman four years ago, is spending too much time in the media bubble. The predominately center-left political press may like the substance of what Kasich is saying — his positions on gay marriage and Medicaid, for instance — and then forget how little they have in common with Republican primary voters.”

Kasich drew praise from both conservatives and liberals for his humane view on same sex marriage, stating that he disagrees with the concept, but opting not to vilify it as quickly as his Republican counterparts. 

“I just went to the wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or I can’t love them,” Kasich said in a Republican debate. “So, if one of my daughters happened to be that (homosexual), of course I would love them, and I would accept them, because you know what, that’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith. Issues like that are planted to divide us…We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have.”

Still, Kasich has consistently voted against full rights for the LGBTQ community, one example being his support for an amendment to a bill in 2010 that would not allow same-sex marriage. 

In terms of Kasich’s views on Medicaid, healthcare and the social safety net, he has called himself a “compassionate conservative” because of his support for those with drug addiction, his attempts to reform, rather than get rid of welfare and his expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which he executed in order to help “mentally ill and the drug-addicted and working poor to get on their feet.” Kasich credits his strong belief in Christianity for his concern for the poor. 

On the topic of higher education, Kasich has been vocal about lowering tuition, depending on the university’s role in this process rather than the government to make this change. He has said that different institutions of higher education should cooperate to “create a new funding system so they’re focused on helping students graduate, not just competing against each other to sign up as many as possible.”

As Governor of Ohio, Kasich has threatened economic sanctions if universities and colleges do not accomplish these goals. 

 “I reserve the right … to say that within the course of the next year, if they do not enact these changes … I think you just start cutting funding and tell them to deal with it,” Kasich said.

Kasich proposed such measures as different schools making an effort to share services, increasing summer school and online education courses, completely ending classes with low enrollment and the privatization of assets apart from academics. 

While supporting affirmative action in terms of “recruitment,” Kasich does not believe in a robust affirmative action relying on quotas. He has voted in favor of ending “preferential treatment” by race in higher education. 

On the issues of gun control, abortion, and the death penalty, Kasich follows the Republican Party line. He has repeatedly voted against gun controls and has been for measures that would make it easier to acquire firearms. After the shooting at Columbine High School, Kasich suggested that, instead of jumping to conclusions about gun availability, people should look to the homestead for support, meaning parents and children should spend more time together, and that if parents were able to choose where to send their children to school, these types of situations could be avoided. 

Both Kasich’s voting record and words have backed up his conviction that abortion should not be allowed except in cases of rape and incest.

Kasich is a supporter of capital punishment. 

On the economy, Kasich has advocated cutting taxes for “job creators,” and has always been a champion of business. In his home state he abolished the estate tax and raised taxes on cigarettes.

According to a Huffington Post poll, Kasich is currently in seventh place in Republican primary polling at 2.7 percent.


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