Kasich drops out of GOP race
Will not seek re-election; endorses Bush as nominee
July 14, 1999
Web posted at: 2:58 p.m. EDT (1858 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 14) -- Without ever officially getting started, Rep. John Kasich of Ohio abandoned his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 Wednesday, as well as any plans to seek re-election in the House. Kasich also endorsed Texas Gov. George Bush to be the GOP nominee.
"I wish I didn't have to be here today to tell you that I have now made the decision to not seek the nomination," he said.
Kasich said he was endorsing Bush because the governor's views are very close to his. "George Bush's term of 'compassionate conservative' really kind of defines what John Kasich is all about," he said, adding that "I feel as though I have a soul brother."
Kasich said the response he received from voters in Iowa and New Hampshire was encouraging. But he also said they told him that it wasn't him time to run for president. "I think you have to be mature enough in politics and in life to able to accept some disappointment," he said.
Rep. John Kasich announced Wednesday that he will not be a candidate for president
Kasich made his announcement in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday morning and appeared with Bush later in Washington, D.C., where they donned Bush campaign baseball hats.
Bush said he was honored with Kasich's support and said he would fit perfectly on Bush's campaign team.
"John can connect with a lot of folks around the country that are looking for a different campaign and a different kind of government," he said.
Kasich said Bush's message of "compassionate conservatism" was exactly what he believes. "This business of compassionate conservatism, I wish I'd thought it up," he said.
Bush said that Kasich ran a fine campaign but "sometimes the stars align and sometimes they don't."
Kasich said Bush has pressed his political advantages in the campaign to a great degree and that he had to play the political hand he was dealt. "But let me tell you, if George Bush had all the advantages that he has and he wasn't the man that he is, he'd be going nowhere," Kasich said.
Asked whether Kasich would get a job in a Bush Administration or would be a vice presidential candidate, Bush said he had to win the nomination first. But he joked after Kasich's laudatory remarks about Bush that Kasich's chances of being vice president had increased.
Bush did make one poke at the Clinton Administration and his possible Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore. Asked how his economy policy would differ from the current administration in light of the booming economy, Bush said his economic plan would include more tax cuts, less regulation and tort reform, emphasizing the latter.
"I would suspect that when people look closely at our records, you'll find that we have a big different over tort reform, between what I've done in Texas and what this administration believes about tort reform," he said.
Kasich a nine-term congressman and chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, said that he would not seek re-election to his House seat. He said he made that decision when he was re-elected last year.
"You got to know when to hold 'em, you got to know when to fold 'em, and you got to know when to renew yourself," he said.
But he did not close the door on future bids for political office, noting that the people of Iowa and New Hampshire "haven't seen the last of John Kasich."
Kasich threw his support towards Gov. George W. Bush
Kasich -- always a longshot -- has struggled to attract attention, in large part because of the overwhelming early attention focused on Bush, and the Texan's overwhelming fund-raising edge. In current polls, Bush is the front-runner for the Republican nomination.
Kasich was short on money to keep his campaign going, having kept it afloat by transferring money from his House campaign committee. Kasich has served nine terms representing the Columbus area.
In the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, Kasich drew just 3 percent of likely Republican voters.
Kasich raised only about $3 million so far this year, including $1.4 million transferred from his House campaign fund -- a mere fraction of Bush's $36 million.
Kasich had never officially announced a candidacy for the nomination, but set up an exploratory committee to finance his travels. He made many trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that will hold the first caucuses and primary, respectively, of the campaign season in 2000.
Kasich is the second Republican to drop out of the crowded field for the Republican nomination. On Tuesday, New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith said Tuesday he was quitting the party and running for president as an independent.
Questioned as to whether Smith was the first "casualty" of the front-running Bush campaign, Bush said he wished Smith would not have left the GOP.'
"I think our party's got ample room for people of different opinions and I'm sorry he left," the governor said.
Kasich, 47, made tax cuts and fiscal conservatism the theme of his campaign. As House Budget Committee chairman, he took a lead role in the GOP's plans to cut spending and balance the budget and has been a critic of government subsidies to business and industry, which he calls "corporate welfare."
"You know if you can reform welfare for the poor, you clearly ought to reform it for the rich, that if we find waste in the welfare department, we ought to root it out in the Defense Department. I've loved the fact that I've been able to sing my song for these five months and frankly, for these twenty-plus years," he said.
Kasich said he has no thoughts about the future except to serve out his term. He also announced that his wife, Karen, is pregnant with their first child and is due next February.