For months, John Kasich has taken every opportunity in his scarce debate moments, infrequent interviews, and low-volume stump speeches to point out how little attention he was getting from the media. As one of the three finalists for the GOP nomination, he’s going to get more attention than ever before. That attention is going to reveal three things: he’s not a good candidate for President, he probably shouldn’t be Vice President, and he’s not a very good governor of Ohio.
The first of these revelations is already playing out in the media. He doesn’t have a path to the nomination that doesn’t include a brokered convention with him leapfrogging over one of the two frontrunners in a coup that would fracture the party for years to come. Ted Cruz says it would be a huge mistake for the party to select someone who has won a single contest, his home state, with half of the contests completed. Donald Trump says that there would be revolts and even riots if Kasich or another GOP Establishment obtained a Pyrrhic convention victory.
Speculation about Kasich’s play for the VP tap has legs. He can make the case that winning Ohio is crucial and he’s the name on a GOP ticket that could deliver it. The problem is that he’s failed as an attack dog and only rose to semi-prominence with a positive message. Even though Trump and Cruz are the candidates that have the least need for an attack dog as their VP nominee, they’ll still need one who his aggressive enough to deliver strong blows against the Democratic running mate. Kasich isn’t that guy. He is a sub-par debater and a divisive campaigner, often citing the affection he receives from Democrats as a unifying force to bring both sides together. This could damage the ticket more than Ohio would help. Moreover, he couldn’t get a majority in his home state despite a shrunken field and a virtual endorsement from Marco Rubio’s campaign before the primary.
It’s the third revelation that will sink Kasich. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in Ohio based upon his lukewarm stance on issues such as trade, Obamacare, and Common Core. These haven’t really been in focus before because he wasn’t considered a serious candidate, but now that he’s in the final three more people are going to be looking at him. That has always been his wish, but his record in his own state may yield the type of attention that he doesn’t want.
Kasich is now being given serious consideration. As an obscure candidate, he simply had to be likable to survive. Now that he’s in the top three and he represents that “sane” candidate in the group, he’ll get enough attention for journalists and competitors to sink him. If he’s shooting for a VP tap, he had better start negotiating with the frontrunners very soon.