John Kasich’s sore-loser role as antagonist-in-chief: Bob Paduchik (Opinion)
DELAWARE, Ohio -- Since Donald J. Trump won the Republican nomination for president, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has assumed a full-time role as Antagonist in Chief.
This all started when Kasich, who lost his second campaign for president, refused to appear at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland to welcome delegates. Ohio Republicans were shocked, embarrassed and angered by Kasich’s self-centered, childish behavior.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Kasich continued to play the sore loser, openly criticizing then-candidate Trump and organizing against the campaign behind the scenes. After Trump’s historic election victory and inauguration, Kasich’s opposition to President Trump hit various peaks and valleys.
Recently, Kasich’s campaign has ramped up its fundraising efforts and sharpened its criticism of President Trump, creating the harbinger of another Kasich presidential candidacy.
To people who know him, this was “Kasich being Kasich.” This pathetic need for attention often accompanies gratuitous insults of other elected officials, CEOs and even a police union lobbyist. It’s the antithesis of his “two paths” message and his campaign-crafted persona, and the people who have to deal with him recognize it immediately.
For the most part, Kasich’s antics have served as fodder for the fake news media and left-wing social media trolls. But that changed the Sunday before Ohio’s Aug. 7 special election in the 12th Congressional District.
In an ABC appearance, Kasich claimed that Republican candidate Troy Balderson didn’t invite the president to Ohio, falsely implying that Balderson didn’t want President Trump’s support. But thousands of Ohio voters at the rally and millions of Americans watching it on TV saw Balderson profusely thank President Trump for supporting his campaign.
The clickbait media became obsessed with the drama and Kasich succeeded once again in drawing attention to himself to soothe a bruised ego. It wasn’t just selfish, it was reckless.
Undoubtedly, voters were confused by Kasich’s remarks. We may never know how many votes Balderson lost because of Kasich’s vanity. Moreover, the bizarre comments changed the focus of the campaign two days before Election Day.
Some people have mused that Kasich’s comments were designed to hurt the Balderson campaign and, by extension, President Trump. Why else go on national TV and create controversy that will obviously impact the election? Another explanation could be that Kasich’s comments were a mistake borne out of his frustration with reality.
It’s 2018 but Kasich is still running for president in 2016. And he is insanely jealous. Kasich cannot come to terms with the fact that President Trump is so popular, he can come to Ohio and draw crowds measured in the tens of thousands. Donald J. Trump can motivate legions of volunteers and countless voters with a single rally appearance.
Special elections are turnout elections. When only 37 percent of the electorate shows up to vote, you must motivate your base to win. And nobody excites and turns out Republican base voters better than President Trump.
There was a time when Kasich was better than that, a time when he was a promising leader in the Republican Party. He was a key player in the Republican House revolution in 1994 and served as Budget Committee chairman the last time Republicans balanced the federal budget.
Now, Kasich is merely a lame-duck governor whose own self-interest cost his chosen candidate much-needed votes.
I am certain it’s hard to run for president and lose twice. Most people take the humbling experience of failure as an opportunity to grow, but Kasich has taken the path less traveled. Sad.
Bob Paduchik serves as the co-chair of the Republican National Committee. He previously served as the Ohio state director for the Trump-Pence presidential campaign and was also campaign manager for Sen. Rob Portman’s successful Ohio campaign for U.S. Senate in 2010.
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