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Ohio Gov. Kasich fuels presidential speculation

TNS Regional News • Aug 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Gov. John Kasich awoke to a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that not only mentioned him as a possible White House contender for 2016, but as someone who could "rebrand the Republican Party."

After that piece, Kasich's press office announced by 11:30 a.m. that Kasich would lead a national push to produce a federal balanced-budget amendment.

And about an hour after that, in a speech to the Franklin County Republican Party, he said the Affordable Care Act is "not Obama's plan; it's Hillarycare."

It was quite a sequence ... but for a governor seeking re-election next year or of someone thinking bigger?

"Always in politics people are trying to assume what your ulterior motive is. I have no ulterior motive," Kasich said when asked about his day. "My motive is to get the federal government in a place where my daughters can have a good life, and secondly I do want to see health-care reform, just not the health-care reform we have."

Kasich has been asked about his presidential aspirations numerous times as national news outlets and pundits continue to mention him as a possible 2016 participant, and he always says he's just focused on being governor.

But it was hard to see where Democrat Ed FitzGerald, Kasich's likely challenger for governor next year, fit onto Kasich's radar yesterday -- even though it was also the day a complaint filed by FitzGerald against Kasich and JobsOhio was dismissed by the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Ohio Democratic spokesman Matt McGrath said, "With the state ranked 47th in job creation (from June 2012 to June 2013) and his signature program, JobsOhio, mired in scandal, I'd say John Kasich is having a rough few weeks in the crucial swing state of Ohio."

The Wall Street Journal wrote that "more than any other leading Republican, Gov. Kasich is using his perch to promote a blend of conservative orthodoxy leavened with liberal policies meant to help the poor, the mentally ill and the uninsured" through items such as his proposed Medicaid expansion.

Should Kasich win re-election next year, he could "provide his party with its most extensive model for a softer brand of conservatism," the Journal wrote.

"This is a very important thing for our party to demonstrate," former national GOP chairman and Romney for President adviser Ed Gillespie told the Journal.

Kasich seemed to channel those thoughts in his remarks to Franklin County Republicans, when, in a speech packed with new material, he said that "our job as a party is to repair the world in which we live."

He used a portion of that speech to explain his push to force Congress to balance the federal budget.

He will work with the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature to pass a resolution for a national constitutional convention. If 34 states call for a constitutional convention, it would take 38 states to ratify a balanced-budget amendment, according to Kasich's office.

Last year, the federal government sent $18.4 billion to Ohio -- money that surely would be affected if Congress balanced the federal budget.

Kasich, who was U.S. House Budget Committee chairman when the federal budget last was balanced in the late 1990s, said the country's $17 trillion debt is why he is seeking action.

"It threatens to swallow us up," Kasich said in his speech. "America has become a debtor nation. The Chinese have become a lending nation."

Kasich already had presented a mixed front on health care before yesterday. For most of this year, he has pushed for a federally funded expansion of Ohio's Medicaid program, with billions provided under Obamacare.

He also has been generally critical of President Barack Obama's law, and Kasich's campaign recently circulated an online petition to "Stand Up Against Obamacare."

But tying Obamacare to Hillary Clinton, who is a favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016 if she runs, was a new one for Kasich.

Clinton's failed attempt at a health-care overhaul as first lady in the early 1990s did have an employer mandate with similarities to Obama's law.

But it did not include an individual mandate for insurance coverage, which is the signature piece of the Affordable Care Act.

"What I have said about Obamacare is right, but I am the guy pushing Medicaid expansion, so try to figure me out," Kasich said.


By Joe Vardon - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

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