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Kasich’s Latest Trip To SC Sparks More Rumors That He’s Running For President

Republican Governor John Kasich is back in Ohio, preparing for Tuesday’s State of the State speech. The things he has been saying recently, and the places he’s been saying them, are bringing a lot of attention. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports.

John Kasich’s balanced budget amendment tour has taken him to mostly to western states, such as Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota – not big players in presidential primary politics. But a visit to South Carolina in the last few days stoked the rumor mill that he’s serious about a presidential run.  And Kasich’s team wanted to make it known, and tweeted out the reception he got on the South Carolina Senate floor. 

“He’s one of our most accomplished governors in the nation. Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I would like to ask that you join me in welcoming to the South Carolina Senate Gov. John Kasich.”

Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Chrissie Thompson was in Columbia, South Carolina too. 
“Kasich was here in South Carolina and wanted everyone to think he was running for president. He continues to demur on the issue but definitely has gotten the national attention that he wanted and wanted everyone to think that, ‘hey, this is an early presidential primary state, and please continue to bring me up as somebody who might be a potential presidential candidate.’”

And Kasich did little to shut down the speculation, saying at a press conference in Columbia that he might take the balanced budget amendment tour to the key primary state of New Hampshire, but said he wouldn’t be there because he’s running for president.  Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges says he’s not sure what the governor is thinking, but he’s hoping he’s leaning toward a run. 

“John Kasich would make an excellent candidate so would I like to see him run? I would love to see him run. I think he’d made a great candidate, I think he’d make a great president. But only he can make that decision – I can’t make it for him. And we’ll see in the next weeks and months what he ultimately decides.”

It’s clear to former Ohio Democratic Party chair Jim Ruvolo what Kasich is doing. 
“I think he’d like to run for president, but he’s so far behind in terms of getting a staff together, getting the resources together that he needs that I think he’s running for vice president. I think he’s saying, ‘look at me, look at me, I’ve done what Republicans think are great things in Ohio and I want some attention for that but I don’t have the time or the resources to put together a campaign, so I’m going to do it this way.’”

Kasich’s comments about New Hampshire are the latest in a series of shifting answers to the question of whether he’s running. Here’s what he said when I asked him before the November election. 
Kasler: “If you’re re-elected, do you pledge that you’re going to be here for four years? Are you going to run for president –“ 
Kasich: “I don’t figure I’m moving out of Ohio. I’m expecting, that’s why I’m running for governor.” 
Kasler: “But don’t you have presidential aspirations? I know you did once.” 
Kasich: “Well, I did, you know, and that didn’t work out so well, or I wouldn’t be here doing this interview, so. Look, I’m flattered.”

Here’s what he said when asked on KBOI in Boise, Idaho, last month. 
“In regard to the presidency, I’ve not taken any options off the table. But look, if I were in some aggressive mood to run for president, I wouldn’t be going west when everybody else is going east.” 
And his profile may be growing – he sat down with Gloria Borger from CNN in South Carolina, and his possible presidential ambitions kept coming up as he talked about Medicaid expansion, on the need for ground troops in the fight against ISIS, and about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
“[The] President can have a meeting with him – they don’t have to have a photo op or anything, but of course you go and you talk to him. I mean, that’s the way I look at it, but I’m not president again, and I’m not sure I will ever be president, because I haven’t decided whether I’m even going to try for that yet.”

It’s doubtful that Kasich will give any hints about a future campaign in his State of the State speech – but it’s likely that speech will sound some of the themes of faith and values that he brought up at his carefully and impressively produced inauguration last month. And that speech was described by some as the kind of speech someone who’s interested in a place on the national political stage would deliver.

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