John Kasich: Running on Principle

Ohio Governor John Kasich has made a name for himself as the GOP’s most socially liberal candidate. For instance, while Kasich has made it known that he supports what the right refers to as “traditional marriage,” he has been quoted as saying that he supports civil unions for same sex couples. And in a recent interview with Fox News, Kasich argued that–with regard to Kim Davis–the GOP has “bigger fish to fry in terms of the whole issue of faith.” Essentially, he believes that the Davis controversy and similar Christian conservative conniptions do a great deal more harm to religious causes than good — and he’s probably right. According to Kasich,

“[w]e have a lot of young people that have walked away from, or are confused or uncertain about personal faith. . . . when young people, or people who are looking at what is religion all about, what is faith all about — when they see dust-ups like this, my concern is they would go the other way and say, ‘Look, I don’t want anything to do with that.”

Although Kasich is clearly concerned about the effect these fits of fervor continue to have on the Republican party, his appeal to grace on Fox seemed more focused on saving souls than collecting votes–and that may be just where Kasich’s political appeal lies. Amid the cacophony of political punditry and posturing, Kasich’s voice stands out as genuine. That may explain why Kasich gained ground in early polls — as of August, Kasich closely trailed Scott Walker as the fourth candidate in a New Hampshire poll, behind current front runners Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Since then, however, the world has shifted markedly. Walker is out, and Kasich has slipped.

Second Nexus
CNN Reagan Library Republican Presidential Debate September 16, 2015 via Flickr user DonkeyHotey

It is unclear at this point whether Kasich’s brand of authenticity can keep his momentum going. After all, the bickering and personal attacks that Kasich refuses to engage in may be bad for the GOP’s image, but they make for great TV. While Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina dominated the stage at CNN’s debate last week, Kasich barely had an opportunity to speak; in a three hour debate, Kasich was only asked to answer four direct questions.

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