John Kasich had a clear plan in the third GOP presidential debate: Attack Donald Trump.
As the curtain rose and the 10 candidates took their podiums, the Ohio governor started out aggressively, as if already planning to lob whatever he could at Trump, no matter the question. CNBC moderator John Harwood asked Kasich to explain his comments Tuesday at a rally, where he said “I’ve had it” with candidates like Trump and Ben Carson. Kasich elaborated on his assault, saying: “This stuff is fantasy.”
“Well, right here they’re talking about, ‘We’ll just have a 10 percent tithe and that is how we’ll fund the government,’” Kasich said Wednesday night, clearly taking a jab at Carson. “‘We’ll just fix everything with waste, fraud, and abuse. Oh, we’re just going to be great, and we’ll ship 10 million people out of this country, leaving their children here in this country and dividing families,’” he added, taking a shot at Trump.
“Folks, we’ve got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn’t know how to do the job. You have to pick somebody who has experience, somebody that has the know-how, the discipline, and I spent my entire lifetime balancing federal budgets, flowing jobs, same in Ohio. I will go back within 100 days, it will pass, and we’ll be strong again.”
Trump, of course, leapt in, saying Ohio turned around economically because Kasich got “lucky with fracking.”
“First of all, John got lucky with a thing called fracking, OK?” Trump said, striking a typically defiant tone. “He hit oil, he got lucky with fracking, that is why Ohio is doing really well. That is important for you to know. No. 2, this was the man who was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers and almost took us down with it, too. Lehman Brothers, they managed it all. Thirdly, he was such a nice guy, his poll numbers tanked. That is why he is on the end. He got nasty, so you know what? You can have him.”
Kasich shot back by saying he traveled around the country learning about how jobs work while he was at Lehman Brothers, giving him the economic chops to be the leader of the free world.
This “nasty” approach from Kasich was calculated, and one that many other GOP candidates, including Bobby Jindal have tried: Fight fire with fire against Trump.
“Part of being president is speaking the truth to the American people. That’s what Governor Kasich did today,” Kasich’s communications director Chris Schrimpf told The Daily Beast on Tuesday of Kasich’s newly aggressive strategy.
The governor of Ohio doesn’t want to play nice anymore.