Despite not having won a single state outright, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is still running the fight of his life for the Republican nomination. On Thursday, Kasich joined the three GOP candidates who have won states — businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — in the latest Republican debate, this time hosted by Fox News in Detroit. Throughout the night, he seemed to represent a stark contrast to his fellow candidates, and Kasich's closing debate statement showed why he's the campaign's much-needed voice of reason.
Together, we'll restore the spirit of America.
For the most part, Kasich has seemed to fly slightly under the radar in the crowded field of candidates that has been dominated by talk of Trump. That's not to say he hasn't found some degree of success. He came in second in both the New Hampshire and Vermont GOP primaries, losing both narrowly to Trump. Kasich is also expected to easily win his home state of Ohio, where Republicans will vote on March 15. It's highly, highly unlikely that those three states will be enough to make Kasich the GOP's nominee, though; he'd need to make some real magic happen at the nominating convention in July. But maybe it's not Kasich's fault... maybe he's just not in the race at the right time.
Throughout the debate, as he has done so many times before, Kasich pointed out that he has successfully balanced the budget in Ohio, operating the state's budget with an excess of funds, believe it or not. He also demonstrated his expertise on foreign policy issues, quickly running through his plans for U.S. relations with several countries. In his closing statement, Kasich alluded to these credentials, proving that he's actually a pretty logical choice for the GOP, despite how much of a long-shot his victory seems to be.
I have a record of being able to solve some of the biggest problems... As we've made progress in Ohio, we've left nobody behind.
Those statements aren't wrong. In balancing Ohio's budget, Kasich accomplished something that the federal government could only dream of doing. As the economy remains one of voters' most highly prioritized issues when it comes to voting, there's probably no one in the race (from either party) who has the same level of experience with budgets. Trump may come close thanks to his business empire, but there's something to be said for having highly successful budgeting experience in the public sector, which Trump does not have.
Kasich is also known for his bipartisan support. Again, as governor of Ohio and part of his ability to balance the budget, Kasich has had to get bipartisan support for his programs like the other candidates may not have had to before. This bipartisan support could likely serve him well during a general election against a Democratic candidate.
While it's not likely at this point that Kasich will make it to that general election, his performance at Thursday's GOP debate is an important reminder that he's still in the race for a good reason. Perhaps he's being drowned out by the overbearing antics of Trump and the loud arguments that Trump has sparked with other candidates, but Kasich might have had a better chance in a different GOP race, thanks to his reasonable appeal. Who knows, though? Maybe he'll end up with Ohio and much, much more.