POLITICS

John Kasich Is Running For President, Because Why Not

He's the 16th GOP candidate to officially enter the race.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday officially launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in a speech at Ohio State University, his alma mater.

"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.

Seen as an establishment-friendly alternative to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, Kasich made it widely known that he was planning a run, telling ABC News in May that he is "pretty qualified for this kind of a job" and citing his political experience on both the state and national level.

"I'm the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland," he said. "At the same time being in Congress, [balancing] the budget. I was the chairman and also serving on the Defense Committee for 18 years."

In June, he reiterated his qualifications to The Huffington Post while testing the waters in New Hampshire.

"What do I have that makes me unique? I have national security experience, experience in Washington and as an executive," he said. "If you think that somebody can get elected president and go down to Washington and change that city without understanding how it works, it will not happen." 

As governor of Ohio, Kasich has championed a fiscally conservative platform, slashing taxes in an effort to promote economic growth and cutting the state’s budget. Those cuts targeted the state’s education system as well as abortion providers and family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood. One provision in his budget mandated ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. Like Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich advocated for restrictions on public-sector unions. However, when the measure was put on a statewide ballot in 2011, Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected it.

At the same time, Kasich has also taken positions that distanced him from his own party. He angered conservatives when he expanded Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this year, he called for a higher tax on fracking, which GOP members of the state legislature shot down.

A native of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh, Kasich began his political career in the Ohio State Senate in 1978. From 1983 to 2001, he represented Ohio’s 12th District in the U.S. House and served as chair of the House Budget Committee. In 1997, he pushed a bipartisan effort to balance the national budget, which created the first budget surplus in 29 years.

He briefly ran for president in 1999 but quickly dropped out due to poor fundraising numbers, and then endorsed eventual winner George W. Bush.

In 2010, Kasich re-entered politics and ran for governor of Ohio, eking out a win over Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland. Last year, he handily won a second term.

Between his time as congressman and governor, he worked in the private sector, serving on a number of corporate boards. He was also a managing director at Lehman Brothers until the firm collapsed in 2008, precipitating the financial crisis and mortgage meltdown.

Kasich joins a ballooning GOP field, becoming the 16th Republican to formally announce his candidacy. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore recently said he would officially join the race in August, which will bring the total number of GOP candidates to 17.

Kasich trails most of the field, polling at 1.7 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate of national polls. He faces an uphill battle in trying to secure a spot in the first GOP debate on Aug. 6, which will only be open to the top 10 candidates.