If Miller vouched for Bush’s patriotism (or jingoism), Kasich can vouch for Biden’s compassion. Biden has responded to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement with what Time’s Charlotte Alter recently called an “empathy offensive.” It’s based, in part, on his own pain. “My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many,” Biden said last month in Philadelphia—obliquely referencing the car crash that killed his wife and daughter and the cancer that took his son—“but I know what it feels like when you think you can’t go on. I know what it means to have that black hole in your chest. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn that anger and anguish into purpose.”
That’s the way Kasich speaks too. Like Biden, Kasich hails from blue-collar Pennsylvania. Like Biden, he’s a former Washington dealmaker. But, most important, Kasich has in recent years made empathy central to his political identity. As he declared during a 2016 GOP debate, “people have accused me of, at times, having too big a heart.”
Like Biden, Kasich speaks about public policy in strikingly personal ways.