Gov. John Kasich is starting to sound more like presidential candidate John Kasich.
Ask the governor about this and you’ll probably get his “aw, shucks, I’m just a fortunate kid from blue collar McKees Rocks who has been blessed in the promised land.”
Or you may hear him talk about how his focus is entirely on Ohio and creating an atmosphere where businesses can thrive and the needy can enjoy economic freedom.
But those lines are getting harder to swallow, particularly given the increased speculation on potential presidential contenders in 2016.
Yes, there’s been chatter about Kasich wanting to be president since he was elected Ohio’s chief executive officer. To date, he’s deflected such questions pretty effectively.
Maybe we reporter types are reading too much into it, but the tone and content of Kasich’s public comments appear to have taken a shift toward the White House.
Consider the governor’s speech at a central Ohio GOP fundraiser last week.
He smacked President Obama for spearheading the “most anemic [economic] recovery since World War II.”
He said Obamacare really wasn’t the president’s idea — “It’s not Obama’s program, it’s Hillary-care,” he said, smacking a leading Democratic presidential contender in the process.
He chastised Republicans for not dealing with health-care reform when they were in charge.
He reminded attendees about his role in balancing the federal budget when he was in Congress.
He said Ohio should lead the nation in pushing for a federal balanced budget amendment to deal with Washington’s out-of-control spending and $17 trillion national debt.
He touted his record in Ohio, with balanced budgets, record surpluses and job growth — part of a narrative he calls the “Ohio Miracle.”
He touched on foreign affairs. “America has become a debtor nation,” he said, noting China’s role as a lender nation, using U.S. money to gain influence in world politics. “Whose values do you want to see transmitted around the world, the values of America or the values of the Chinese?”
And he made it clear that Democrats better get on board the fiscal responsibility bus.
“We will be watching [Democrats] to see how many of them really care about fiscal responsibility and job growth,” he said. “Because without fiscal responsibility, we will have no significant job growth.”
Add it all together, and it sounds an awful lot like someone who is positioning himself for higher office.
But pressed about the comments by reporters afterward, Kasich shrugged off such suggestions.
“There’s always, in politics, people are trying to assume what your ulterior motive is,” he said. “I have no ulterior motive. My motive here is to get the federal government in a place where my daughters can have a good life. And secondly I do want to see health care reform, just not the health care reform we have...”
He added, “When Washington holds us back, Ohioans pay the price....”