The Watercooler ~ Is Ohio Governor John Kasich Preparing for a 2016 Presidental Run?

With Chris Christie being pummeled in the New Jersey scandal, thus potentially permanently damaging his chances at a 2016 White House run, the picture remains murky regarding potential GOP candidates who are considering the race. But according to The National Journal, insiders close to Ohio Governor John Kasich say he is seriously considering a run:

But there’s one candidate who isn’t generating much buzz and whose résumé compares favorably with any of the top-tier candidates. He’s a battleground-state governor who’s looking in strong position to win a second term. He defeated one of the more popular Democratic governors in the country, who happened to be a major Clinton ally. He’s from the Midwest, likely to be the critical region in the 2016 presidential election. He entered office as a prominent fiscal conservative but compromised on Medicaid expansion. And most important, Republican officials familiar with his thinking say he’s seriously considering a presidential campaign.

This is news to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes for it. The article goes on to describe Kasich as disappointing the base with his Medicaid expansion and likens Kasich’s mindset to Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”– justifying government programs for the poor as a way to soften the GOP’s image as well as fulfill what he sees as a personal calling:

Mitt Romney’s biggest problem was the perception he didn’t care—that’s a Republican Achilles’ heel almost built into the party,” said former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. “It would be constructive to have a candidate who could diminish that gap because they’re cut from a different cloth, they have a proven track record of helping the poor and middle-class, and their policies show it. For people like John Kasich, he feels it as a social calling. That has the potential to be attractive so long as it’s matched with conservative ideology.”

Indeed, Kasich’s governing message in Ohio sounds awfully similar to the “compassionate conservative” brand that Bush himself employed so successfully in 2000. Last August, Kasich told The Wall Street Journal: “I have a chance to show what it means to be successful economically, but also to have a compassionate side, a caring side, to help lift people up.”

Could Kasich be the one to pull off a White House win for the GOP? Even though he has compromised conservative principles, disappointed the base with his Medicaid expansion and is clearly becoming a squish with age, he is very likeable and I can see him fitting the mold for a country weary of phony politicians. Comparatively speaking, even ardent conservatives could accept him as a breath of fresh air after eight years of Obama.

For more detail on his governing record in Ohio, this piece in the Wall Street Journal is informative.

While he wouldn’t be my first pick, we could do worse. Your thoughts welcome.

The Watercooler is always an open thread.