Kasich: second look at a path to citizenship?

During a recent speech covered by Iowa Public Radio, Ohio governor and likely GOP presidential candidate John Kasich shared his views on a wide range of subjects. Much of it was focused on his tenure in the governor’s office as well as his time in Congress, but the conversation soon turned to his plans for the future. One of the more notable moments was when he got to the subject of immigration, where he mentioned that deporting immigrants was “inhumane” and moved on to how to fix the system.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the latest Republican to say he’s interested in running for his party’s nomination for president, attracted a crowd of about 200 people in Des Moines today.

During a forum at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Kasich distinguished himself from the rest of the field. He criticized the pro-ethanol renewable fuel standard, and called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Kasich says the Republican Party is his vehicle, not his master.

“They can’t tell me what to do,” Kasich says. “On the issue of immigration we need to get things moving on this and get it going soon.”

This isn’t really out of character for Kasich, particularly on the immigration question. He has, in the past, supported expanding the number of available visas for immigrants as far back as 1998 and a taken a few related stands. I admit, I was a bit surprised to see he was coming out against ethanol since some his past comments I was able to locate seemed to indicate that it was more of a state’s issue. (Which, in the case of corn, means leaving it up to Iowa.)

The more of these appearances I see, the more I continue to wonder which “niche” Kasich is looking to fill with this late entry into the race. It seems like Jeb already has the GOP Path to Citizenship vote locked up, along with a lot of the money that goes with it. If he’s serious about shutting down the Renewable Fuel Standard, that’s great, but it’s a position already staked out by Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina, so he’ll have some competition on that front. And when you take all of that away, what he’s really got left is the “I’m from Ohio and that’s a really important state” card to play.

Of course, he’s apparently not shutting himself out of the race entirely with an immigration stance like this. Jeb was already there and has been cleaning up in the fundraising department. But if he wants a place on the debate stage he’s going to have to raise his profile considerably. At this point he’s still not breaking out of the margin of error with background noise.