Ohio Gov. John Kasich vows "amateur hour is over" if he enters the race for the presidency. But for his challengers, he is providing a ready-made target on his back: Obamacare.
The Republican governor, who says he does not back the president's signature agenda item, did fight and win against his own party in Ohio to approve the healthcare reform plan's Medicaid coverage to cover more of the state's low-income adults, a no-no among conservatives who want the plan repealed altogether, reports Politico.
On Friday, Kaisch told CBN News' "The Brady File"
that his "experience and record" are what matter, and "amateur hour is over," if he does decide to enter the race, as he helped turn around Ohio's economy.
"We have come back almost from the dead," Kasich said. "If you have the experience and you have the record — it's not about ‘tell me.' It's about 'show me.’ ”
But when that experience includes a controversial decision to expand Medicaid, Kasich may see problems gaining support from the conservative base he'll need to win the GOP primary.
The governor says he pushed for the expansion for federal health care coverage for moral and economic reasons, but conservatives say that was a mistake, and campaign watchers say the decision will likely haunt him as the races get underway in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“We were deeply disappointed at Gov. Kasich’s actions on the Medicaid expansion battle in Ohio,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-supported Americans for Prosperity. "Obamacare is a core issue at this point for so many Americans who will most likely be participating in primaries and caucuses. The question of expanding Medicaid is arguably the most important state-level aspect of Obamacare that’s in play.”
And with there being more than a dozen people all vying for the GOP nomination, and with other governors like Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker and Rick Perry rejecting the Medicaid expansion, Kasich could find himself under attack for his decision. Republican Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham all voted to repeal Obamacare, and just New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enacted Medicaid expansion, but that came under pressure from a Democratic-controlled legislature.
In Ohio, though, Republicans control the legislature and Kasich used a loophole, lobbying a state board to increase Medicaid spending levels to accommodate Obamacare. He went on to win reelection with 64 percent of the vote, even though he faced a conservative challenge in the 2014 primary.
The Medicaid issue isn't enough to kill Kasich's hopes for the White House, strategists agree, but won't help him as he enters the race as a longshot. He is not well-known outside Ohio. But in his home state he regularly tops polls, even against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
"Well, I guess they still like me in Ohio," Kasich told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade Friday. "If I can't do well in Ohio I may as well hang it up and get back to being home."
But that's not a prospect he minds, he said, because as governor he takes care of his state and doesn't "travel around the country" campaigning for higher office.
"I love Ohio and its people, " the governor said. "Here's what we do know: If you can't win Ohio you can't be president," as there "has not been a president who didn't carry Ohio."
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