Ohio Governor John Kasich believes that he is still in with a chance of becoming the Republican nominee. His debate performance was arguably much better than previous ones and, in the wake of Jeb Bush’s continued failing campaign, he managed to distinguish himself as the candidate that represented the traditional Republican establishment whilst also touting his record as the governor of one of the tightest swing states. I don’t want to waste your time so I’m going to say right now that I don’t believe that Kasich will be the GOP nominee, but analysing Kasich’s debate performance was like biting into a burst mild sanity that has been absent from a number of the other candidates.
Kasich’s first debating topic was on the topic of public spending and taxes. When pushed on his approach Kasich appropriately criticised the other candidates and said that “I would cut taxes but not so much as to put my children in debt”. Whilst maintaining his belief in what George H.W. Bush called ‘voodoo economics’, Kasich recognised that government requires tax revenues in order to function.
He attempted to portray himself as a pragmatic Republican that can balance the budget in Washington and used his previous experiences of balancing budgets when he was the Ohio Governor and a Congressman. He outlined that he would freeze non-defence discretionary spending for eight years and wouldn’t institute a flat tax. I do not agree with his strategy for balancing the books but at least he isn’t going to give the richest American’s a massive blow-job of a tax rebate.
Kasich later went on to argue that there was too much greed on Wall Street and that “values need to underpin free enterprise” which would remove the need for regulations. I would argue that bank regulations would always be needed, irrespective of values, because I don’t think that the way to reform capitalism is to base it in pseudo-religious principles, but I’m sure that that appealed to the Republican base.
On foreign policy Kasich gave a shopping list of things he would do as President. He would arm the Ukrainian opposition, strengthen the Baltic States and Finland, create and enforce a no-fly zone over Northern Syria by the Turkish border and over Southern Syria by the Jordanian border. He threw some raw meat to the Republican base by saying that the US has “no better ally than Israel”.
The Ohio Governor went on to say that “China doesn’t own the South China Sea”, and that the TPP is beneficial to the US in relation to job creation whilst strengthening China’s competitors. In a last ditch attempt to appeal to the crowd Kasich argued that a CEO mentality was needed in order to defeat Hillary Clinton, although the audience seemed unconvinced.
Kasich’s final contribution of significance came on the topic of bank bailouts. He argued that “we need an executive who is tried and tested” in a thinly-veiled criticism of frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson. When specifically asked about bank bailouts Kasich said that he wouldn’t bailout the banks again but then kind of said that he would and at that moment was met with a wall of booing from the audience. At that point his appalling attempt to explain his position fell of deaf ears and any long-shot chance of winning died on national television. He concluded by saying that the Federal Reserve should be subject to Congressional oversight, which is again more moderate than some of the other candidates’ positions.
The analysis of Kasich’s performance is significantly shorter than that of the other candidates because the moderators did an excellent job of giving everyone on the panel equal time, apart from Kasich. Ironically his wasn’t the worst performance on the stage, or the worst establishment Republican performance, but he was probably one of the biggest losers of the debate. By not galvanising enough of support from the debate his campaign will remain uninspiring; the establishment Republicans that will vote in the primary that would have voted for Bush will probably move over to Rubio, and Kasich’s campaign will be left without the mass support required to continue travelling around the country looking for delegates.