He may be polling in eighth place, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich would be Democrat Hillary Clinton's biggest threat if Republicans come around to nominating him for president, argues New York Times columnist Frank Bruni in an opinion piece
Bruni says Kasich may never get past the primaries, but made the case why he would actually be the GOP's biggest weapon against Clinton.
Kasich has shown "unexpected nimbleness" as he navigates the process, Bruni said, and has plenty of experience and maturity. Kasich spent 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, eight as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
He also is serving his second term as Ohio governor – one of the top battleground states, along with Florida. But Kasich actually beats current front-runner Donald Trump in his home state
, unlike former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who trails Trump in the Sunshine State.
Bruni quotes one poll that shows that in New Hampshire Clinton would beat Trump by two points and Bush by seven points. Kasich, on the other hand, would beat her by 2 points.
Kasich is in a better position than Bush, too, to pick the best running mate (that being Florida Sen. Marco Rubio), Bruni says. Rubio would bring in Hispanics and younger voters, but can seem a little "green" for the top job, he said.
Still, Rubio would be perfect for vice president, Bruni says, though Bush couldn't pick him since they are from the same state.
Kasich is the candidate whom the base sees as most left-leaning, allowing for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and an avoidance of culture war issues, Bruni points out. He also accepted Medicaid expansion for his state during the Obamacare fight.
"He's the one Republican in the field that not only embraced Obamacare, but took it out in his dad’s station wagon and made out with it," Republican strategist Rick Wilson said to Real Clear Politics.
But Kasich has made the best of it, Bruni said, "portraying it as an inside look at a vital part of the economy, a fruitful research mission. He’s dexterous that way."
"Based on what I heard, he’s the most electable" in the general election, Democratic strategist Douglas Schoen told Bruni. Shoen said he was impressed with how Kasich in the first GOP debate said he doesn't endorse Trump's methods, but understands the frustration of voters who are drawn to him.
"That's crucial, because the Trump phenomenon is a bigger thing than just a reality star writ large," Schoen said.
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