(Bloomberg Politics) — The presidential flirtations of Ohio Gov. John Kasich provide yet more proof that Jeb Bush cannot clear the Republican primary field. It’s one thing to say a candidate like Kasich starts in “single digits.” It’s something else if Bush, who has received the coverage of a presidential frontrunner, is in single digits himself. (His 9 percent showing in the new Fox News national poll is five points below the lowest Mitt Romney ever pulled in that poll.)
“Of all the people thinking about it, I am the most experienced,” Kasich said at a conference Thursday in Washington, according to a story by Bloomberg’s Kim Chipman. He sounded more like a candidate than the Balanced Budget Amendment troubadour he had been for most of the year.
Yet conservatives shudder at some of Kasich’s experience. He is one of the still-rare Republican governors who accepted the Medicaid expansion offered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), after the Supreme Court allowed states to skip it. In the Washington Examiner, Managing Editor Phil Kleinwrote that Kasich should be “punished” for his cave-in, his rationale being “built on a mountain of lies” about how the expansion was funded.
“By punishing Kasich for expanding Medicaid,” wrote Klein, “conservative primary voters would be sending the message to state-level Republicans everywhere that if they choose to advance big government healthcare solutions, there will be consequences — and they will have no chance of rising to higher office.”
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That would be a complete contrast with the welcome Republicans have given Scott Walker. Kasich has called opponents of Medicaid expansion “hard-hearted or cold-hearted.” Walker, in denying the money, has accused Democrats of wanting people to be dependent on government while he wants to”find a way to get them into the workforce.” (Two-thirds of people eligible for the expansion are in families where at least one person works.)
Last weekend, I asked Kasich if he could pass a conservative litmus test. If it were Jan. 21, 2017, and the Republican Congress gave President Kasich a bill that fully repealed PPACA, would he sign it?