Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for president, differentiating himself in the crowded contest as a fiscal conservative from the heartland with national security experience.
“I am here to ask you for your prayers, for your support, for your efforts — because I have decided to run for president of the United States,” Kasich said at a morning rally at Ohio State University in Columbus.
“We are going to take the lessons of the heartland and straighten out Washington D.C. and fix our country,” the Republican said.
During his speech, Kasich emphasized his experience in Congress on the armed services committee and as chairman of the budget committee.
Referencing his role as architect of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Kasich said: “By the way, how about a little balanced budget amendment to the Constitution so Congress will start doing its job?”
“I believe I do have the skills,” Kasich told the crowd. “And I have the experience. I have the experience and the testing — the testing — which shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world, and I believe I know how to work and help restore this great United States.”
A former congressman, host of Fox News’s Heartland with John Kasich and Lehman brothers executive, Kasich is polling at just 1.5 percent nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. He’s also tied for 11th place nationally; an important number as the first nationally televised debate will include just the top 10.
Demonstrating his ties to the conservative movement, Kasich spoke of getting to know Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention.
“I went out to the convention in Kansas City,” he recalled. “And not only worked for Ronald Reagan but I worked with Ronald Reagan. And I got to travel with Ronald Reagan. Yeah, I actually knew the guy, ok? The real guy. Not from the history book.”
But Kasich, the 16th Republican to announce a campaign, will face questions from conservatives over his positions on health care, guns, immigration and education.
“John Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio in 2013 was a costly mistake,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said Tuesday. “Medicaid enrollment in Ohio has far outpaced Kasich’s projections and more than doubled in cost.”
In 2010, the NRA endorsed Democrat Ted Strickland over Kasich in the Ohio gubernatorial race. Strickland voted against the assault weapons ban in Congress in 1994 while Kasich supported the legislation.
Kasich also supports the Common Core educational standards and proposals to give legal status to illegal immigrants.
This isn’t Kasich’s first time to seek the White House: In 1999, he set up an exploratory committee to run but dropped out of the race months later and endorsed George W. Bush.