John Kasich Dropping Out, Clearing The Field For The Worst GOP Candidate Ever

In a rational universe somewhere, John Kasich is preparing to become the de facto Republican nominee for President. In ours, he's dropping out in favor of Donald Trump.

John Kasich

Following in the wake of last night’s blowout win by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s decision to end his Presidential campaign, the end of the campaign for the Republican nomination comes today with the announcement that Ohio Governor John Kasich is dropping out of the race:

John Kasich is dropping his presidential bid, according to a senior campaign adviser, one day after Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee and Ted Cruz bowed out of the race.

The Ohio governor had long ago been mathematically eliminated from clinching the GOP nomination outright but had hoped to emerge as a consensus candidate at a contested convention.

Ultimately, Kasich outlasted nearly all of his rivals but can claim to have beaten few of them. He won only one contest — his home state of Ohio — during the primary season, and his final tally of 153 delegates puts him fourth in the race behind Marco Rubio, who dropped out in mid-March.

Kasich had said Tuesday night that he would keep fighting, but after Cruz suspended his campaign and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared Trump the presumptive nominee, Kasich apparently decided to end his bid.

Kasich had been expected to talk with reporters this morning at Washington Dulles International Airport before embarking on what his campaign termed a full day of finance events in Maryland and Virginia. But the campaign later canceled the briefing and scheduled a news conference at 5 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio.

Kasich had a flash of hope when he won Ohio’s winner-take-all primary. But after that triumph failed to spark any subsequent victories, Kasich pinned his hopes to a contested convention, with a plan to hang on through the primary contests and snatch the nomination on the back of being the last candidate standing.

The Ohio governor’s campaign tried to cast its candidate as a steady, accomplished alternative to Trump and Cruz who would fare better against a Democrat in the fall. And he entered the contest with a much-hyped team. He mixed longtime, trusted Ohio aides with nationally known Republican operatives — John Weaver served as the campaign’s chief strategist and admaker Fred Davis worked with the campaign’s super PAC.

In any other Presidential election year, one in which an insane level of anti-immigrant, xenophobic partisanship had not infected the base of the Republican Party to its core, a candidate like John Kasich would have been taken far more seriously. His resume multi-term Congressman who spent the 1990s as head of the House Budget Committee from where he worked together with others in Congress, and with a Democratic President, to bring some degree of (temporary) sanity to the Federal Budget. From there, he spent several years in the private sector before re-entering the arena with a campaign for Governor of Ohio, which he recaptured from the Democrats just four years after the scandal-ridden Administration of Bob Taft seemed to have tarnished the reputation of Ohio Republicans for at least a decade to come. Four years later, after a generally successful first term, he was re-elected in a landslide that included across the board support from groups that typically don’t vote Republican. Add in the fact that he represents a state that the GOP absolutely must win if it is to win the General Election, and the arguments in favor of a Kasich candidacy are rather obvious.

As I’ve said, in a rational election year, Kasich, or someone like him in the form of a Governor with significant experience and preferably from a swing state, would have been considered a near perfect candidate by Republican primary voters. Yes, he did stray from conservative orthodoxy by agreeing to sign on to the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid for his state, but that seems like a decision that could easily have been spun as an action by a Governor who believed it was in the best interest of the people of his state. Moreover, beyond that one decision Kasich’s record consists largely of a record of sane, competent government in the mold of what used to be a typical conservative Republican. The GOP’s anathema for President Obama in general and the PPACA in particular, though, meant that many voters immediately rejected Kasich without considering other parts of his record, a reaction that is compatible with the take no prisoners ideological bent that the GOP base had taken, an attitude which doesn’t allow for any consideration of compromise. Given that, it’s no surprise that candidates like Kaisch, Christie, Bush, or, to draw from the 2012 cycle, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson or Mitch Daniels are automatically rejected by the GOP and candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz notwithstanding all of the negatives that one can list about them. It’s not a path to electoral success in the General Election, but it is an inevitable result of the ideology that has taken hold of the base of the Republican Party. Now, we’ll get to see the perfect manifestation of that ideology actually run as the party’s nominee. Perhaps when the GOP is dealt its inevitable loss, it will come to its senses.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. munch says:

    Thank God! TFP!!

  2. M u n c h squared! says:

    Thank God! TFP!!!!

  3. LaMont says:

    The Republican party officially has no credibility. They have been exposed to the world. There are governments in third world countries right now shaking their heads. Their policies are now largely irrelevant and any traditional conservative should be embarrassed to admit they’re a Republican. I should thank Trump for doing something I did not believe could be achieved for at least another decade!

  4. grumpy realist says:

    A rundown of Trump’s policy positions (such as they are.)

    You might as well vote for someone who promises you a winning lottery ticket every week.

  5. Doug — you’re in a swing(ish) state, you have some power. Will you vote for Trump or abstain/3rd Party or vote Clinton in November. I could respect either of the last two choices given what you’ve written in the past.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    An interesting article if true. Does Trump really feel like he’s the dog that caught the car and doesn’t know what to do with it?

    What Trump could do if he really wants to blow the whole system up: quit. Accept the nomination, then bow out of the race the next day. What a howl that would be.

    Otherwise, I guess I’ll just have to keep getting my jollies from watching the WSJ get more and more hysterical.

  7. Paul Hooson says:

    This is a real shame. John Kasich is a very fine candidate, but has run a very poor campaign so far. His ads in Oregon so far have been very uninspiring and poorly focused, giving voters little real reason to vote for the Ohio governor.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Doug, I think you need to weigh the alternatives. Are Republican primary voters

    1. (to quote a commenter at my site) “Racist, misogynist, nativist ignoramuses”?
    2. More interested in punishing Republican incumbents than they are in winning?
    3. Convinced that a more combative style is the key to winning?

    Those aren’t mutually exclusive, of course. Or it could be something else.

  9. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist:

    What Trump could do if he really wants to blow the whole system up: quit. Accept the nomination, then bow out of the race the next day. What a howl that would be.

    Proving that he was working for the Clintons all along.

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    …an insane level of anti-immigrant, xenophobic partisanship…

    Sure would be civilized if no level of anti-immigrant, xenophobic partisanship was acceptable to anyone.
    But then I live in the real world.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Dave Schuler: As with many dichotomies (trichotomies?) the answer is “yes”.

  12. Lit3Bolt says:

    Doug and James are endangered species. Principled conservatives who stick to their principles but are capable of being swayed by rational argument.

    However most Republican primary voters think that the Republican Party stands for ethnic tribalism. And there was a whole branch of media out their to coddle them and tell them that racism is good, homophobia is religion, abortion is murder, government is evil, and scientists are snooty elitists that want to take away their guns and trucks. And there was a professional pundit class nodding in approval the entire time, calling these pig-ignorant whites “the salt of the earth” and the “silent majority.”

    And in their effort to pamper these white male betas, they gratuitously insulted every single demographic out there. Single women. College students. Mothers. African-Americans. Latinos. Teachers. Homosexuals and trans people. Non-religious people.

    Ultimately, the GOP is a victim of its success in the past. Before, these attacks would work and these demographic populations wouldn’t unite in opposition to the Republican Party. But they are now, and that means hell to pay in general election politics. Florida is already out of play for the GOP. More states are going to follow, and they’re going to stay blue for a long, long time unless the GOP changes its target audience.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: I don’t think Trump listens to anything or anyone but his own ego.

    And if Bill/Hillary talked Trump into running for POTUS as a distractor, figuring that at some point he’d get blown out of the water well before the Republican nomination–well, I guess the joke’s on them, no?

  14. Jen says:

    @Scott:

    Proving that he was working for the Clintons all along.

    I think it depends on who his running mate is. If it’s someone like Kasich or similar, who could (theoretically*) beat Clinton, then he’d be hailed as stepping aside and saving the race for the Republicans.

    * I give very little credence to the head-to-head match up polls that are being thrown around right now, so I use this only as an example of a situation where Trump wouldn’t be criticized for paving the way for Clinton. In fact, if he stays in the race to the end it’d be easier to make the claim that he was “working for the Clintons all along.”

    I think he’d wait until October, at any rate.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Kasich’s record consists largely of a record of sane, competent government

    Well…not really. Really he is just as nuts as the rest of the ORRWG Party (Old Rich Rural White Guy). He is sold as a moderate…but he is far from moderate.
    Ohio has some of the most draconian abortion laws and regulations…all signed by Kasich.
    Ditto rape laws.
    His Presidency would be a windfall for the wealthy. He would cut the top marginal tax rate to 28%, reduce the capital gains tax to 15% and repeal the estate tax.
    He wants to cut SS.
    He has abridged voting rights in Ohio making it harder for minorities to vote..
    And while he does accept the science of AGW, he doesn’t want to do anything about it.
    Kasich is much like Scalia was…doing everything in his power to move America in an uglier, more regressive direction.

  16. Pete S says:

    For the last month or so all Kasich has been doing is splitting the anti-Trump vote, keeping Cruz from gaining any traction at all. Within hours of Cruz dropping out Kasich goes too. Is there any chance that Kasich (or his backers) really just hated Cruz as much as we have been led to believe most people who meet Cruz hate him? Kasich was mathematically eliminated in March if I remember right, I don’t know what else changed after the Indiana primary.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Jen:

    I think it depends on who his running mate is. If it’s someone like Kasich or similar, who could (theoretically*) beat Clinton, then he’d be hailed as stepping aside and saving the race for the Republicans.

    Not really. If he were to suddenly pull out of the race he’d be leaving the party in shambles no matter who was put in his place. The Trump fans would be disillusioned, many of them would be likely to view the replacement as illegitimate even if Trump were to endorse him or her, and overall it would give the party an image before the public of complete disarray.

    Last December I did a post musing about Trump winning the nomination and then suddenly revealing it was all an act of epic trolling. When I wrote this, I considered it pure fantasy; now I’m not so sure.

    http://kylopod.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-troll-primary.html

    Still, the whole “working for the Clintons” theory never made the slightest sense. What could they possibly have to bribe him with?

  18. grumpy realist says:

    Carson’s idea is now for Trump to appoint Cruz as Attorney General and later on, to the Supreme Court.

    *facepalm*

  19. stonetools says:

    The greatest Republican presidential candidate field in decades-rolled by a billionaire reality TV star, who simply gave the Republican base the raw, unfiltered xenophobic tribalism that they have been conditioned by the Republican media to want..
    Meanwhile, the intellectual conservatives who told themselves that the Republican Party base really wanted limited government and libertarian economics have been shown to be deluded fools.
    Hilarious, really, it the stakes weren’t so high.

  20. MBunge says:

    In what way are we defining worse? We are, after all, just 16 years separated from a GOP candidate so out of his depth that his own supporters had to reassure people that he’d have enough smart folks around him that it wouldn’t matter.

    Mike

  21. steve s says:

    Meanwhile, the intellectual conservatives who told themselves that the Republican Party base really wanted limited government and libertarian economics have been shown to be deluded fools.

    I love the number of conservatives who said a variant of “Donald Trump is a left-winger’s caricature of what conservatives are like.”

    And now he’s the GOP standard-bearer.

  22. Kylopod says:

    Well, here’s an, um, interesting take on Trump’s rise:

    On his radio program today, white nationalist leader David Duke celebrated Donald Trump’s “amazing victory” in the Indiana primary, which allowed him to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president, hailing Trump for terrifying wealthy “Jewish extremists” and exposing the “Jewish supremacists who control our country.”

    Trump, who earlier this year briefly refused to reject Duke’s endorsement, has been a favorite of white nationalist leaders like Duke, who predicted that the GOP presidential candidate will rehabilitate the image of Adolf Hitler.

    The former KKK leader said that Republican elites have been working to undermine Trump just as they worked against him when he ran for governor of Louisiana as a Republican in 1991. He particularly took issue with Trump’s former Republican rival Ted Cruz taking money from a “Jewish leftist commie,” arguing that Jewish financiers are bent on “destroying the Republican Party” by targeting people like Trump and himself.

    “Jewish chutzpah knows no bounds,” he said.

    “The Trump campaign at a whole series of levels is a great opportunity for us to expose the people who really run the Republican Party, who run the Democratic Party, who run the political establishment and who are leading us all to disaster,” Duke said. “Even though Trump is not explicitly talking about European-Americans, he is implicitly talking about the interests of European-Americans.”

    ….“Jewish extremists” have “made a terribly crazy miscalculation” by opposing Trump, Duke added, “because all they’re really going to be doing by doing a ‘Never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, anti-American, anti-American-majority position to all the Republicans and they’re going to push people more into awareness that the neocons are the problem, that these Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem and the reason why America is not great.”

    Happy Passover to you too.

  23. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m so disappointed,

    I really wanted to find out if Kasich could amass enough delegates to go from fourth place to third place in a two-man race.

  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    Geez, Doug, you’re not even trying any more, are you?

    In any other Presidential election year, one in which an insane level of anti-immigrant, xenophobic partisanship had not infected the base of the Republican Party to its core, a candidate like John Kasich would have been taken far more seriously.

    Yes, Trump isn’t that fond of illegal aliens. He’s especially not fond of Mexican illegal aliens, who represent over half of the illegal aliens in the country. And he’s worried about Muslim fundamentalists coming here and doing things like they’ve done in Paris and Brussels and, on a slightly lesser scale, several other European communities.

    Trump also employs a lot of LEGAL aliens in several of his businesses.

    This seems to be proof that Trump (and I) are both significantly smarter than you are, Doug, as we can actually tell the difference between LEGAL and ILLEGAL aliens. Are you even aware that there is a difference? One can’t tell from your writing.

    As for Kasich… apparently it hasn’t occurred to you that Kasich was pretty much eliminated a while ago, but stayed in the race anyway. He cut a deal with Cruz to help counter Trump, but that deal fell apart and ended up hurting both their campaigns and boosting Trump’s. Then, one day after Cruz drops out, Kasich also drops out, leaving Trump the nominee presumptive — and Trump says that he’d consider Kasich as his running mate.

    So, did Kasich have a secret deal with Trump to help take out Cruz? Did Kasich do this on his own to curry favor with Trump? Or is this just all a wild coincidence?

    And all these people calling Kasich and Doug and James “principled conservatives” — just what “principles’ do they stand for? I don’t recall any of them ever talking about what their principles are, and how strongly they hold them.

  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @Pete S:

    For the last month or so all Kasich has been doing is splitting the anti-Trump vote, keeping Cruz from gaining any traction at all. Within hours of Cruz dropping out Kasich goes too. Is there any chance that Kasich (or his backers) really just hated Cruz as much as we have been led to believe most people who meet Cruz hate him? Kasich was mathematically eliminated in March if I remember right, I don’t know what else changed after the Indiana primary.

    Actually, I think this was a lot of what his campaign was about. Cruz is well-hated within the GOP. Who would have thought that messing over your own party for your personal benefit would backfire like that?

  26. Paul Hooson says:

    @Kylopod: I’m Jewish myself, but I think that David Duke has really misread Donald Trump here. Trump’s own daughter converted to the Jewish faith, and Trump would find it impossible to do business in New York and not do business with Jews. I believe that Trump has many racist instincts with Hispanics and some other groups, but not with Jews.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: But Kasich is pleasant and smiling when he screws over his state, my state. For some reason that seems to carry a lot of weight with establishment GOPs.

  28. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Kylopod: Trump is another Hitler. Except instead of hating Jews, Trump’s daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren are Jewish. And instead of recruiting Muslims to help kill Jews, Trump says mean things about Muslims. And instead of being a failure in the private sector, Trump has been very successful.

    On the other hand, Hitler was essential in the creation of the modern state of Israel, and Trump is a very strong Israel supporter. So there’s that…

  29. Kylopod says:

    @Paul Hooson: I agree that Trump’s bigotry has, for the most part, not been directed at Jews. But he has made a few isolated remarks employing anti-Semitic stereotypes, and in his attacks on other minorities he has embraced sources that happen to be strongly anti-Semitic, as when he retweeted phony stats about African Americans from a group called WhiteGenocide.

    I don’t know (and frankly don’t care) how David Duke rationalizes the fact that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are Jewish and that he hasn’t disowned them. And it’s hard to see how Trump’s policies would particularly appeal to Jew-haters. Like so many other issues he’s gone back and forth on Israel, from saying he’d stay neutral on the conflict to backing full settlement expansion in the West Bank. Duke gushes about how Trump opposes “neocons,” whatever that means. White nationalist leaders have supported far less explicitly racist figures such as Ron Paul before, and they always seem to think they can detect what the candidates are really saying.

    All in all, I think it comes down to Trump’s racist statements against blacks and Latinos. Racism and anti-Semitism have always been closely linked in the belief system of traditional white nationalists, particularly the idea that Jews are involved in a conspiracy to bolster racial minorities in order to destroy the white race. It’s a theme that goes all the way back to Hitler. And so, when they find a candidate fearlessly bashing minorities and waging war against “neocons,” they think they’ve found their man.

  30. JWH says:

    I don’t think John Kasich would be the nominee in this election or any other year. While he’s certainly a competent politician with a strong record, he doesn’t have nearly as much charisma as he would need to run for president form a place of relative weakness. Instead, I think that in an ordinary year, Kasich would take the George H. W. Bush Memorial Prize for Competent Candidate. He would either be offered the nominee’s VP slot, or he would be tapped for a prominent Cabinet position.

  31. rachel says:

    @grumpy realist: That would be an interesting string of hearings. I wonder if his colleagues would accept his nomination to SCOTUS so they would no longer have to deal with him in person, or if they would refuse it to spite him.

  32. SKI says:

    @Paul Hooson: no, he just has bigoted stereotypes of who we Jews actually are. That he views many of those stereotyped characteristics as positives (good with money being the most notable) doesn’t change that he is a bigot.

  33. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: But Jenos isn’t supporting Trump, oh no. As with George Zimmerman, he’s only obsessively writing about him because Doug is completely ignoring the candidate.

  34. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: Sorry, sweetheart, but no matter how much you stamp your little feetsies and wave your little fisties, “pointing out inconvenient facts that contradict lies” doesn’t make one a supporter. Except to idiots, of course.

    If Trump is so horrible, why can’t people show that by pointing out true things, instead of just making up lies?

    OK, one reason is that there are a lot of really stupid people who are eager to hear and repeat the lies (you’re an exemplar of that), but apart from that…