Kasich the Moderate and Compassionate Conservative

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – O-H-I-O. O-H-I-O. The Ohio State University cheer and 4,000-plus cheering supporters packed into the OSU student union set the stage this morning for Gov. John R. Kasich’s formal announcement that he’s running for president.

With the Republican governor’s red-white-and-blue campaign slogan, “Kasich for Us,” and flaglike graphic as backdrops, the announcement began with testimonials, first from former OSU football star Archie Griffin (more O-H-I-O cheers), then  a Cincinnati businesswoman and finally former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu from New Hampshire.

When it came time for Kasich to speak, he very quickly adopted the theme of the American Dream – and for a brief time sounded like a Democrat channeling income inequality talking points.

Speaking without a teleprompter and notes, he told of his devotion to his wife and twin daughters, and the lessons he learned from his uncles and his parents. They believed, and fought for, the American Dream, he said. “It was all about the next generation, and they’re the ones who inspired me.”

Kasich listed the high cost of health care, burdensome student loans, “the fear that drugs are washing away our neighborhoods,” and the millions of Americans who “follow all the rules” yet struggle.

“The American Dream is pivotal for the future of our country but I have to tell you, there are a lot of people in American today who are not sure that American Dream is possible and that American Dream is alive. And I can understand their concerns,” he said.

“Some people say, ‘Just work harder. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’ I believe that but some people don’t have the fortune like the rest of us.”

He referred to minority groups, specifically “African-Americans who may think the system doesn’t work for them. And I don’t blame them.”

He referred to recent mass killings, ISIS, and all the challenges the nation has faced from world wars, the Great Depression and the Civil War.

America gets through its challenges, he said, by “staying together, not by dividing each other, but staying together with our eyes on the horizon, about the future.”

And he spoke about the 1,000 residents of Wilmington, Ohio, “who played by the rules and went from getting a paycheck one Friday afternoon to a food pantry so they could feed their kids” when the town’s largest employer closed its doors.

“In Wilmington today, the sun is coming up,” he said.

“The sun is going to rise to its zenith in American again. I promise you it will happen.”

Not once during Kasich’s extemporaneous speech, which lasted nearly 45 minutes, did he voice extreme positions of some of his competitors for the Republican Party presidential nomination.

“Humbly I tell you, I believe I have the skills and the experience and the testing, the testing that shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world,” he  said.

Positioning himself as a moderate as well as a compassionate conservative, Kasich emphasized his faith and belief that an individual’s life is best served by serving others.

“If we are not born to serve others, what are we born to do?” he asked.

He reviewed his service in Congress, where he help craft a balanced federal budget, his accomplishments as governor, his political philosophy and belief in “the power of big, bold ideas,” which he credited to getting to know Ronald Reagan when he was a young man.

“Big ideas change the world,” he concluded.

“The light of a city on the hill cannot be hidden. America is that city and you are that light.”

READ TRANSCRIPT of Kasich’s announcement.

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