Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich officially announced his presidential run today to a crowd of supporters at the Ohio State University. He is the 16th Republican to declare his candidacy and is expected to be the last.
Kasich's speech focused on the key pocketbook issues and drew upon his own executive and legislative experience. It also echoed themes from Reagan's campaigns in the 1980s:
Today in Wilmington [Ohio], the sun is coming up. The sun is rising, and the sun is going to rise to the zenith in America again.
Kasich paid tribute to those who came before him, saying he derives his personal inspiration from them: An uncle who fought in Iwo Jima, another uncle who fought in France, and his own father, "John the Mailman." He conveyed himself to be an everyday American who was given the opportunity to rise through hard work, and to achieve the American dream. He called such opportunities "pivotal" for Americans across the country, yet he expressed concern that these opportunities are now eluding many Americans.
Kasich spoke specifically of the Ohioans who found themselves out of work in the wake of the economic recession. When he became governor, he had seen thousands of workers laid off because a major company had left the state. Yet he touted his success as governor in recreating those jobs that were lost, and promised to do more of the same as president.
Kasich listed a host of national problems: jobs, student debt, expensive health care, drug use, terrorism, and even African-American and minority communities who sometimes feel like the system "works against them." Yet in spite of these challenges, he assured listeners that America has seen "much worse" and will make it through these issues. He mentioned the great national trials of the Civil War and 9/11.
“America has become stronger for them. And here’s how we’ve done it: by staying together. Not by dividing each other, but by staying together with our eyes on the horizon.”
Kasich positioned himself as being strong on defense and vowed to beef up military spending again. He said that while he is a fiscal conservative, military spending "climbs to the top of the heap" because "we must be strong." He also decried the radical growth of the national debt, saying that "we have no right as grownups to ring up debt" on behalf of our children. He cited his extensive experience on the Armed Services Committee, where he worked to cut wasteful spending. He also vowed his support for a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
Kasich rekindled the crowd's affections for Ronald Reagan and referenced the fact that he ran Reagan's Ohio campaign in 1976, when Kasich was only 24 years old. Even though Reagan lost in that year, he drew inspiration from Reagan's tenacity in coming back to win four years later. He said that experience proved to him that "big ideas changed the world." He said that serves as an inspiration behind his own candidacy, as he intends to run a campaign based on big ideas.
It remains to be seen if Kasich will get an announcement bump in the polls. Kasich currently polls nationally in the single digits and will need a bump to reach the top ten. The first presidential debate, which will only feature the top ten candidates, is three weeks away.