Republican John Kasich is, to put it politely, blunt. While some voters may find it refreshing, others find it abrasive.
Just days after defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland for the governor’s office, Kasich unleased this comment: “I just want Ohio to be great. Please leave the cynicism and the political maneuvering at the door. Because we need you on the bus and if you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”
Two months later, when lecturing 1,200 Ohio EPA employees about the importance of treating the public with respect, Kasich called a police officer an idiot three times. “Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who was an idiot?” he said. “I had this idiot pull me over on 315…He’s an idiot. We just can’t act that way and what people resent are people who are in government who don’t treat the client with respect.”
Dash cam video retained by the Columbus Division of Police shows that the officer acted professionally and courteously when he stopped Kasich.
His first two State of the State addresses took on a unique, rambling free-form where Kasich indulged himself in shout outs to his friends and called Californians “wackadoodles” and his wife “hot.”
Kasich surprised some people with a first-term agenda that called for expanding Medicaid to serve more poor people, improving mental health services, giving ex-cons a second chance and rescuing women and children enslaved by human traffickers.
The positions seem more the wish list of a social worker than a hard-nosed conservative Republican politician who used to work on Wall Street. And the Medicaid expansion in particular is strongly opposed by many members of his party.
Kasich often peppers his comments with references to God, life after death and his own religious experience. And he is known to use religion as a justification for his public policy choices.
Politico reported that a high-end fundraising forum, the wife of a wealthy GOP donor challenged Kasich on his decision to expand Medicaid. Kasich reported response was: “I don’t know about you, lady, but when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor.” Politico, quoting anonymous sources, said 20 audience members walked out.
In his 2013 State of the State address, Kasich said the Bible’s lessons run his life.
“I’m serious, they’re very important to me. Not just on Sunday, but just about every day,” he said. “I got to tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them. For those that live in the shadows of life, those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them. And I want all of you to think about this.”
More recently, Kasich managed to criticize previous Ohio governors in one fell swoop while taking credit for Ohio’s financial health.
“John Gilligan raised taxes, Jim Rhodes raised taxes, Dick Celeste raised taxes, George Voinovich raised taxes, Bob Taft raised taxes, Ted Strickland raised taxes. Why? (They were) not conservative with their (revenue) estimates, not controlling spending, not creating a business friendly environment,” Kasich said at a Statehouse press conference on the state budget.
In blistering criticism leveled earlier this month, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Brent Larkin called the statement classless, nauseating, narcissistic and factually wrong.