Kasich’s Draft-Me Movement Under Way With a Blare of Kazoos

Whilst most of us were absorbed with Cromnibus and whatnot, something really big was happening down in Arizona: John Kasich’s extremely indirect presidential bid hit the road. The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Henry Gomez was along for the ride, and not being familiar with him I don’t know how much irony is embedded in his account of Kasich’s rather odd belief that a grassroots movement will lift him to the presidency on the exciting, innovative single-issue platform of a balanced budget amendment:

As he wrestles with another run for president, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is trying keep his political maneuverings above the fray and below the radar.

Case in point, the Republican isn’t racing would-be rivals to early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and he hasn’t been linked to top strategists who craft White House campaigns. Instead, Kasich came here this week to launch a national tour pegged around a single issue: balancing the federal budget.

Arizona is not a big electoral prize. It ranks higher, though, than Idaho, which Kasich also hoped to visit this week before scheduling problems got in the way.

Ha! Ha! Idaho, that launching pad for presidential dreams! But Gomez does remind us that Kasich has done this before, in 2000, or technically in 1999, since he dropped out in July of that year and endorsed that great hero of the balanced budget cause George W. Bush. Oh wait….

Assuming the thought of another bid appeals, it makes sense that Kasich would do things differently. Rather than appear overly eager, he’s the reluctant candidate, the guy waiting for big check-writers to cajole him with a Draft Kasich movement.

In that regard, this week’s trip had the feel of a soft opening with an itinerary meant to gradually reacquaint Kasich with the grind of the campaign trail.

“No,” Kasich replied Wednesday when presented with that observation, “because I’ve traveled extensively for a long time. Remember, I was on the speaking circuit for 10 years. … Assess what? Whether people like me or whether I can speak or whether I have good ideas? I’ve done all that already. That’s not the issue.”

It’s not clear from Gomez’s account what Kasich thinks “the issue” is here, but pause with me to savor the description of the Ohio governor as “the guy waiting for big check-writers to cajole him with a Draft Kasich movement.” Believe that is going to be a mighty long wait.

I do have a suggestion for a campaign theme for the Kasich Draft-Me movement. Here it is:

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.