The Governator is back … for Kasich?
posted at 4:01 pm on February 5, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
When Arnold Schwarzenegger left office in California, no one really expected him to be back. He wisely took up his suspended Hollywood career, picking up in action films where he left off. The Governator will make a comeback of sorts today, though, joining John Kasich on a conference call with New Hampshire voters:
Former California governor and Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger is lending a hand to Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
Kasich’s presidential campaign invited supporters to join a Friday tele-town hall that will feature Schwarzenegger. …
Schwarzenegger has another tie to the presidential race, as the “Terminator” star is replacing GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump as the host of the reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
The Hill notes that Schwarzenegger has yet to actually endorse Kasich, although perhaps that will be the big reveal today. He’s not making calls on behalf of Donald Trump, whom Schwarzenegger will replace as host of “Celebrity Apprentice.” (Maybe they’re trading “You’re fired!” with “I like you, Solly, I’ll kill you last.”) The contestant list has a high reality-TV celebrity quotient, with luminaries such as Snooki Polizzi, Porsha Williams, and Carson Kressley. For some reason, NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson will make an appearance, too.
But Kasichmentum does not stop with Schwarzenegger. Montel Williams, former TV host and most recently an activist on the issue of Americans detained by Iran, has declared his excitement to come back to the GOP on behalf of the Ohio governor:
I reject the criticism that Kasich isn’t a conservative. It’s ludicrous—especially from those looking for the next Ronald Reagan. Reagan, today, would be a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Some say allowing Medicaid expansion in Ohio proves Kasich is a “closet liberal.” It’s ridiculous. On Medicaid, Kasich was unwilling to kowtow to extremists. Admirably, he put principles ahead of what was in his best interest politically. That takes guts. Some said the expansion would collapse the state’s finances. In fact, Ohio has a balanced budget and a significant surplus.
When it comes to security and the military, we need a steady hand. I cringe when I hear the term “carpet bombing” from Cruz, or when Donald Trump proposes taking Syrian or Iraqi oil for our benefit. Both are war crimes, and reflect ignorance toward a complex world. Cruz also suggested finding out if “sand can glow in the dark.” Was he proposing using nuclear weapons against the Islamic State group? That’s not strength, it’s senseless puffery. Voters should ask themselves if they’d like to “feel safe” or “be safe.” We cannot pretend fear-mongering and bigotry qualify a person to serve as our commander in chief.
An issue dear to my heart is care for our veterans. I firmly believe Kasich is by far the best choice to root out corruption at the Veterans Administration and honor our most sacred national obligation — caring for those who fought for our freedom.
Given Williams’ background as an Annapolis grad and Marine, he’s certainly got the gravitas to weigh in on national security and veterans affairs. Whether he can boost Kasich’s fortunes in New Hampshire is another matter. Williams has a significant following on social media, but New Hampshire is won on street corners, diners, and other forms of retail politicking. Having two celebrities endorse from afar may give Kasich a little more star power and media attention, but he’d have to bounce high up in the latter to threaten Trump, Cruz, or Marco Rubio for air time in the next four days. On the other hand, some polling in New Hampshire puts Kasich in decent position for a respectable finish, perhaps even a bronze medal — which would be remarkable indeed.
Regardless, Kasich told Fox News that even a poor showing in New Hampshire won’t push him out of the race, although he defined that as “seventh” in a field of … eight:
The results of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday are widely expected to prompt more Republicans to drop out of the crowded race to be the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich doesn’t plan to be in that group.
“I want a good showing out of New Hampshire,” Kasich said Friday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” He explained that he hopes to leave the state relatively successful as he heads to events he has already planned leading up to Republican primaries elsewhere, including South Carolina’s on Feb. 20 and Nevada’s caucus on Feb. 23.
The third state the governor mentioned was the most surprising: Michigan, where the primary is held on March 12. For Kasich to mention that contest is a sign that he believes his campaign will survive past the 12 primaries held on March 1, Super Tuesday, and those that follow before the Michigan date. …
That means “seventh place or something,” Kasich told Fox, indicating what the bar would be for him to quit. The governor is currently polling fourth in New Hampshire, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregation of polls.
RCP also has him in fourth place in New Hampshire, barely edged out by Ted Cruz. In South Carolina, though, Kasich is at 2%. The other states haven’t had much polling of late in RCP’s tracking, but a late-December Gravis poll in Nevada put Kasich at zero. Nevada is a caucus state, so unless Kasich is prepared to drop a bunch of cash in a state with a much more libertarian edge to it, the path to Michigan seems pretty foggy, to say the least.