Live from Council Bluffs, it’s John Kasich

Nebraska attorney David Begley continues his series of reports on appearances of the presidential candidates in Iowa for us. Yesterday Dave attended the appearance of Ohio Governor John Kasich in Council Bluffs, Iowa:

Why would Power Line readers be interested in John Kasich? In the first place he has decent poll numbers. The Real Clear Politics average has him at 10 percent or fourth in New Hampshire. Nationally, Bloomberg has him at 4 percent. The second point to consider is that he has been a successful governor of the large and electorally important state of Ohio. He claims to have taken an $8 billion dollar state deficit and turned it into a $2 billion dollar surplus. But then again Scott Walker and Rick Perry had at least equally impressive records and they are both out.

John Kasich appears to be a happy warrior. It’s a quality that has appeal to many voters.

The event at the county fairgrounds was well-attended with the largest contingent of local elected officials at any GOP event I have been at. It is easy to forget that in Iowa and New Hampshire the endorsement and campaign infrastructure of the locals can be critical to success. Congressman David Young was in attendance. He did not endorse Kasich but spoke favorably of him.

At the outset Kasich reminded the crowd of his blue collar roots and his father’s occupation as a mailman. He said he would speak for the people who have no one to speak for them. Bear in mind, however, that he used to work as an investment banker and has friends on Wall Street. Kasich therefore has a background in three worlds: politics, media (at FOX News) and finance.

One of his strengths is his background in budget and spending issues in the state and federal government. He claims to have written the first balanced federal budget since roughly forever. He claims to have left Congress with a huge fiscal surplus surplus, but “the GOP spent it.” Not the Democrats, but the Republicans. He used the line: “When you know the budget, you know everything.” Look for that in the next debate.

He said he will restore defense spending but will be prudent about it. Kasich claimed credit for stopping the spending on the legendary $800 hammer.

Government shutdowns are in the news again and he was part of the first one. He said he supported the Clinton-era shutdown because he “knew he could bend Clinton.”

His populist message was expressed in his desire not to exclude anyone. Kasich’s happy warrior message was conveyed with his promise to compromise without compromising principles.

Kasich took up Pope Francis’s visit. He attributed the Pope’s popularity to a message of hope. Kasich avows that his campaign for president is meant to lift us up and stop the negativity.

I asked him about his reputation as a moderate Republican. Kasich asserted that today Ronald Reagan would be considered a moderate Republican. The other aspect of his moderate reputation is one of tone. He will talk publicly about average people’s problems and his work to solve them. He claims: “I’m a mainstream conservative and a reformer.”

In answer to a question about the overbearing EPA he worked in the assertion that Hillary is most fearful of him winning the nomination. He seeks to remind voters that the nominee needs the votes of many voters who are middle-of-the-road. He puts it this way: “Life is about balance.”

The last question came from protesters who asserted that pigs are our friends and family and that we should not eat pork. They got run out of the building, but in an a nice Iowa way. We then adjourned to a dinner of roast pork sandwiches courtesy of the hog formerly known as Princess. No lie.

In a strange turn of events, reporters from Bloomberg and the Omaha World-Herald wanted to interview me. I declined as I was there on behalf of Power Line. I was shocked that they were not familiar with Power Line, but the blog has two new readers now.