Good day Austin:
John Kasich can be prickly.
From an April 30, 2015 Molly Ball profile of Kasich in the Atlantic: The Unpleasant Charisma of John Kasich: He’s tamed the federal budget and brought Ohio’s economy back from the brink. His next target might be the White House—and he could be 2016’s most interesting candidate.
The thing about John Kasich is, he’s kind of a jerk.
Lobbyists in Columbus warn their clients before meeting the governor not to take it personally if he berates them. A top Ohio Republican donor once publicly vowed not to give Kasich a penny after finding him to be “unpleasantly arrogant.” As a congressman, Kasich sometimes lashed out at constituents—one who called him a “redneck” in a 1985 letter got a reply recommending he “enroll in a remedial course on protocol”—and when Kasich was thrown out of a Grateful Dead concert for trying to join the band onstage, he allegedly threatened to use his clout to have the band banned from D.C. As I was writing this article, Kasich’s press secretary, Rob Nichols, helpfully emailed me the thesaurus entry for “prickly,” sensing that I would need it.
But while Kasich can be rude—and at times even genuinely nasty—he is also prone to spontaneous displays of empathy, frequently becoming emotional as he talks about the plight of people “in the shadows.” To his allies, these traits are two sides of the same coin. They describe Kasich as a sort of heartland Chris Christie—brash, decisive, authentic—without all the baggage. “
From Eli Watkins at CNN on March 26:
Washington (CNN)Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Sunday that despite keeping up a high profile since his failed 2016 presidential bid, he has no intention of running for office again.
From Jennifer Hansler at CNN on May 4:
(CNN) John Kasich may not be planning to run for president again in 2020, but he’s not ruling out the possibility.
From Ken Herman on Dec. 20.
Background: On Monday, Christopher Suprun of Dallas, one of the 38 Texas members of the Electoral College, carried through on his plan not to vote for Donald Trump. Suprun, who voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, doesn’t think Trump was the best candidate for president this year, even though a majority of Texas voters thought he was.
Texas law doesn’t require electors to back the candidate who got the most popular votes in the state. There is a party pledge to that effect, but no law. So Suprun didn’t vote for Trump. Neither did elector Bill Greene, who voted for former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who is 81 and didn’t run for president this year.
More background: Gov. Greg Abbott thinks electors who vote their conscience, as opposed to how the popular vote goes, should be fined $5,000 and banned for life from the Electoral College
From Ben Gittelson, ABC News, Utica Michigan, Feb. 16, 2016:
From New Hampshire to Michigan and South Carolina, kids have promised the Ohio governor they’ll stay away from drugs. Kasich’s crusade began as a response to questions from voters about how he would address substance abuse; he says “we’ll give you some money” but that personal pitches are key.
That message has become part of his stump speech regardless of whether his audiences actually broach the topic themselves.
“Do you know you’re made special? Did you know that?” Kasich told two young boys Saturday after pointing at them and beckoning them onstage at a rally in Mauldin, South Carolina. “You want to make a commitment to get your buddies to realize,” he told Preston, 11, and Daniel, 14, “that you don’t mess around with drugs? Huh?”
The kids agreed, the crowd applauded and Kasich proclaimed: “That’s how we beat drugs in our neighborhood. I don’t know these boys, but I don’t have to know them. Because I care about them without even knowing them.”
Then, he stopped himself, noticing another potential mark. “Are you still in school?” he asked a young man in the crowd, who told him he was. “You’re in high school,” Kasich said. “No drugs.”
Kasich himself has admitted that he tried marijuana when he was younger, although he does not mention his own background when he pulls the kids before hundreds of attendees at his town hall-style meetings. This week, he rolled out his anti-drug spiel at events in Michigan and South Carolina, always tinged with the motivational message that one’s life is too special to ruin for a quick fix.
Kasich, whose gubernatorial administration has combated its own heroin epidemic in Ohio, altered his advice somewhat for audiences at universities this week.
“I beg you,” he told students at Grand Valley State University, in Allendale, Michigan, Monday. “When you go to that party, OK, and you’re having the second drink or the third drink, OK, and the bowl of pills that’s over here on the side,” he said, pointing. “Don’t go near ’em.”
Kasich, whose parents died in a crash caused by a drunken driver, has said he is open to exploring using marijuana’s medical benefits and that he opposes jailing people for smoking weed, but he opposes legalizing the drug.
Not everyone proves receptive to his “just-say-no” crusade.
On Monday in Utica, Michigan, just outside Detroit, a little boy in the front row looked up in apparent terror as Kasich zeroed in on him and said: “You don’t ever mess with drugs, do you?”
Overwhelmed with the attention, the boy burst into tears.
Kasich appears to be citing a statistic from a 2006 study by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that found kids are half as likely to use drugs if they discuss the associated risks with their parents. The study doesn’t say much about strangers at restaurants or John Kasich telling them to avoid all drugs forever. That strategy has obvious set-backs in terms of basic human—especially teenaged—nature.
“Telling people they can’t do something, which they think they ought to be able to do, elicits ‘reactance motivation’ or forbidden fruit syndrome,” Ruth C. Engs, Professor Emeritus of Applied Health Science at Indiana University tells The Influence. A 2009 meta-analysis of 20 studies on the effectiveness of DARE, the most widely adopted abstinence-based program, found it had a “less than small effect on reducing drug use.”
“Too often, the schism that exists between what we tell them and their own lived experiences provokes cynicism, mistrust and even more curiosity,” says Jerry Otero, youth policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “So much so, that once they are out on their own, many young folks seem primed for overindulgence. That is why “Just say no” just doesn’t work.”
Otero adds that while “just say no” campaigns might work with very young kids, they have little-to-no effect by the time children get to middle and high school. In fact, one study showed that “scared straight” programs made kids more likely to start smoking cigarettes and drinking.
The large, attentive crowd at BookPeople loved John Kasich.
But he did not hang around afterward to meet them one-by-one and sign books.
In fact, he dashed out of BookPeople so quickly when the event was over that I couldn’t catch a photo of him.
But he did sign 150 copies of his book beforehand and, after his talk, I bought one.
So far, my favorite line in the book comes between parentheses on page 255.
He is writing about how furious he was that after Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz in the May 4 Indiana primary, and Cruz quit the race that night, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus – now President Trump’s chief of staff – tweeted that Trump was the party’s presumptive nominee, ignoring the fact that Kasich was still in the race.
“What Priebus did was dead wrong,” I later told The Washington Post, igniting a feud between me and the party chairman that would continue through the general election. “I was still in it,” I said of the race, “and I think he dissed me.”
(For the record, my daughters appreciated that I was quoted in the paper saying the word dissed, and that I had apparently used it correctly.)
The very next day after Trump beat Cruz, Cruz dropped out and Priebus dissed Kasich, Kasich suspended his campaign.