Ohio Gov. John Kasich launched his presidential campaign at a formal rally in Columbus on Tuesday. More than 4,500 people reportedly RSVP'd to attend his announcement speech near his alma mater's, Ohio State University's, student union.
"I am here to ask you for your prayers, your support, and your efforts because I have decided to run for president of the United States," Kasich said to chants of "Run, John, Run." "I do this because first of all because if we're not born to serve others, what are we born to do?"
Kasich spoke about having the skills and the experience necessary to run for higher office. He talked about his time at Ohio State, living with 15 other roommates — now he's running against 15 other Republicans for the presidential nomination.
Kasich's record in Congress may sit well with GOP primary voters, but his gubernatorial career could turn off conservative voters. Kasich used tax hikes to offset lost revenue elsewhere and expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, increasing the state's share of the program's cost. The influential conservative organization Club for Growth issued a warning about the burden he has placed on the Buckeye State as governor, in advance of his announcement.
He likely hopes the timing of his campaign launch gives him a boost in the polls that will lift him onto the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio, next month. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, places Kasich in the third tier of Republican candidates alongside three other governors, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and current Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey. He polls below two percentage points in RealClearPolitics' average of polls, and finishes behind ten other Republican candidates.
Kasich is in jeopardy of missing the threshold first televised debate in his backyard, but is expected to attend a candidate forum in New Hampshire just three nights earlier, which will provide him an opportunity to debate several of his GOP opponents.
The GOP presidential field now includes 16 major candidates. Kasich's path to the nomination could lead through New Hampshire, where other moderate Republican candidates — such as 2008 GOP nominee Sen. John McCain — have succeeded in the past.
Former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., preceded the governor onstage this morning. And Kasich has already begun running televised ads in the Granite State and another round will hit the airwaves today. He will head to Nashua, N.H., after his announcement, and stay in the state through Thursday.