John Kasich is a career politician who served as a state legislator, member of the U.S. House of Representatives and governor of Ohio. He is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election and, though considered an underdog to both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, is one of the three remaining candidates in the primary race.
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Kasich sought the presidency once before, in the 2000 election, and referred to himself as the "Jolt Cola" - a highly caffeinated soft drink - of that year's field of Republican candidates because of his high-energy style and penchant for wearing sneakers to work. But he later withdrew from the primary race.
Kasich's political career includes positions in both state and federal government. Here's a timeline:
- 1975 to 1977: Served as administrative assistant in the Ohio state Senate.
- 1979 to 1983: Elected to the Ohio state legislature at age 26 and served one four-year term in the state Senate.
- 1983 to 2001: Election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and served nine two-year terms. During his tenure in the House and served as chairman of the Committee on the Budget. Kasich retired from the House to reinvent himself. "You got to know when to hold 'em, you got to know when to fold 'em, and you got to know when to renew yourself," he said at the time.
- 1999: Briefly sought the Republican nomination for president before dropping out and endorsing eventual nominee and 2000 election winner George W. Bush. "The problem was last time that I had this jet airplane ready to take off but I didn't have any gas for it. It never got into the air," Kasich later told CNN.
- 2011 to present: Governor of Ohio, serving his second four-year term.
- July 2015 to present: Seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
Kasich worked in private finance after leaving Congress in January 2001. He worked as a managing director in the Investment Banking Division of Lehman Brothers. He was appeared as a political commentator on FOX News.
Kasich is the author of three books: Courage is Contagious; Stand for Something: The Battle for America's Soul; and Every Other Monday.
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Campaign for President in 2016
Kasich, though a career politician, sought to appeal to voters who prefer outsiders. He has repeatedly claimed Washington knows little about solving the country's problems. "I think we ought to run the country from the bottom up rather than the top down," he says.
He began his campaign for president as an extreme long shot in a field of 16 candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who at one time was considered the front-runner for the nomination. But most of the candidates ran out of money, enthusiasm or patience with voters who propelled Trump toward the nomination amid an anti-establishment fervor in the primaries.
By March 2016, it was a three-man race, and Kasich was portraying himself as the "common-sense," or more moderate, conservative to Cruz, who suggested impeaching Democratic President Barack Obama would be legitimate, and Trump, whose political philosophies perplexed many in both major parties. Kasich was also seen as having the most experience of any of the candidates, given his work in the statehouse and in Congress.
Democrats, however, point out that Kasich is solidly opposed to abortion rights. States his campaign:
"During his 18 years in Congress, John Kasich consistently opposed federal funding of abortion and voted to ban partial-birth abortions. As Governor of Ohio, he has enacted more measures to protect unborn children than any other governor in the history of the state, including bans on late-term abortions and bans on elective abortions in public hospitals.
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Many in the Republican establishment became upset with Kasich, however, over his refusal to drop out of the Republican primaries even after it became clear he could not win enough delegates to secure the presidential nomination. Critics believed Kasich was undermining Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's ability to stop presumptive nominee Donald Trump's march to victory in the primaries by splitting the anti-Trump vote two ways.
One of the most notable efforts to persuade Kasich to abandon his bid for the nomination, or to persuade voters to abandon him, came from the conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth. The group spent $1 million on a television ad attacking Kasich. The ad, titled "Math," points out Kasich couldn't win the nomination and went on to claim his candidacy was fueling Trump's success.
"If you don't want Donald Trump to win, your choice comes down to this: math. Only Ted Cruz can beat Donald Trump. John Kasich can't do it. The math won't work. A vote for Kasich actually helps Trump by dividing the opposition. It's time to put differences aside. To stop Trump, vote for Cruz."
Kasich, however, maintained that he could win the nomination by blocking Trump from securing the necessary delegates before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and by appealing to mainstream members of the party at a contested, or brokered, convention.
"As crazy as this year is - theres no one here who would say this isn't nuts - can you think about anything cooler than a contested convention?” Kasich argued at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March of 2016.
Nonetheless, the strategy was considered the longest of long shots and angered members of the Republican establishment who were trying to stop Trump.
Kasich made job creation, health care and student debt key components of his campaign and attempted to set himself apart from the other Republican candidates by portraying America as still being great. "The sun is rising, and the sun is going to rise to the zenith in America again, I promise you," Kasich said in announcing his candidacy in July 2015.
His campaign has focused more on economic issues, rather than social issues such as gay marriage, where he appears to be far more moderate than most Republican presidential candidates. While stressing he believes in "traditional marriage" between a man and woman, Kasich has also said:
"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… 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."
As governor of Ohio, Kasich takes credit for eliminating projected state budget shortfalls - including an $8 billion projected deficit - while reducing taxes since taking office in 2011. He promotes his efforts to cut "wasteful spending" and eliminate government "red tape." He also takes credit for Ohio's “stable” credit outlook among the major ratings agencies.
"I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole… to a $2 billion surplus," Kasich was fond of saying on the 2016 campaign trail. He claims his administration was also responsible for the creation of 350,000 jobs and issuing the largest statewide tax cuts in history, totaling $5 billion.
Kasich attended public schools in Ohio and earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Ohio State University in 1974.
John Richard Kasich was born in McKees Rocks, a small borough near Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on May 13, 1952. He is the oldest of three children.
He considered becoming a Catholic priest before entering politics.
Kasich lives in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He is married to Karen Waldbillig Kasich. The couple have twin daughters, Emma and Reese.
How You Pronounce Kasich
Kasich's last name is often mispronounced. The "ch" is hard at the end of his last name, meaning Kasich rhymes with "basic."