POLITICS

John Kasich Isn't Interested In Talking About His Sandwich

HuffPost spends a day on the bus with the sometimes prickly, always colorful presidential candidate.

This is the sixth installment of '16 And President, the Huffington Post series that takes you behind the scenes for a day in the life on the campaign trail with the candidates running for president.   

NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. -- Typically, when presidential candidates first encounter our HuffPost video team on the morning of a ’16 And President shoot, they go out of their way to be friendly.

Greetings are offered, observations about the weather are made, and perhaps a joke or two is told.

John Kasich, however, is not a typical presidential candidate.

As we discovered on a scenic mid-October swing through some of the remote towns that dot New Hampshire’s skiing areas and other outdoor recreation hotspots, the Republican governor of Ohio is not one for exchanging pleasantries.

"I'm not talking about my sandwich," he snapped at one point, as our second or third attempt to break the ice by asking about his lunch order fell flat.

Kasich is, however, preternaturally comfortable in his own skin -- an asset for any politician in the authenticity-obsessed social media age.

“Nobody tells me what to say,” he told us when asked about guidance he receives from advisers. “Sometimes they tell me what not to say, after I’ve already said it, but not very often.”

From the moment we linked up with him on his newly minted campaign bus -- which, rumor has it, previously shuttled the country music group Lady Antebellum -- Kasich made perfectly clear that he had no interest in trying to impress us. 

And that made him all the more interesting. 

Forgoing any semblance of morning chitchat, he began his day on the bus by taking out his iPad and pressing play on a contemporary Christian song about a relationship between a father and son, losing himself in the hyper-literal lyrics about love, life and death. 

Deep in the moment, the candidate didn't hesitate to shush a reporter and a staffer, who were chatting too loudly for his taste at the back of the bus. And when the song's narrator implored his listener to “make this world a better place, don’t be afraid to cry,” Kasich’s lip began to quiver. 

A former chairman of the House Budget Committee who played an instrumental role in enacting the nation’s last balanced budget late in the last century, Kasich’s short temper is almost as legendary as his consensus-building reputation.

As we saw firsthand, this particular candidate doesn’t hold back his disdain for questions from the press -- or even from the voters whose support he is seeking -- if he deems the inquiries to be frivolous or wrongheaded. 

Kasich's ego manifests itself not through Trumpian boasts of being “the best” and “most successful” at everything in life. Instead, the Ohioan’s own healthy assessment of himself comes through in a less grandiose but equally apparent manner.

“I’m not that great of a guy,” he tells us in one moment of conspicuous humility before adding in another, “I’ve always kind of liked myself.”

For a politician, Kasich is uncommonly introspective. He mentions his own Christian faith frequently, even as he acknowledges other perspectives on faith and spirituality as being equally legitimate in the public discourse.

He is more than a little bit cranky, unorthodox in his approach and maintains a skeptical bearing that puts a premium on action over rhetorical prowess. In short, John Kasich is a lot like the typical New Hampshire voter--the judgment of whom he has largely staked his candidacy.

Watch the video above for the latest installment of the HuffPost series '16 And President. 

Story by Scott Conroy. 


Video produced by Marielle Olentine and Jon Strauss.

Cinematography by Marielle Olentine, Jon Strauss, and Samuel Wilkes.

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