Gov. Kasich - "In the Tea Party Before There Was a Tea Party"

Yesterday in Columbus, OH, Gov. John Kasich became the 16th Republican to officially launch a presidential campaign. While the former congressman and current Ohio governor is attempting to frame himself as the "compassionate conservative" who could win the general election in 2016, the facts point to the truth - Gov. Kasich is just as extremist and far-right as his fellow Republican candidates.

Gov. Kasich has a long history of alienating those around him and pushing policies that put hard-working Americans at risk. As governor, Kasich has pushed extremist policies, including a budget that restricts health care access to women and forces them to undergo invasive ultrasound procedures. His tax cuts disproportionately targeted Ohio's poor, while failing to offer much support to small businesses. The governor further instituted massive cuts in his state's public education budget, leaving public school students out to dry.

Furthermore, while Gov. Kasich describes himself as a moderate today, that's a far turn from his 2010 run for office, in which he tied himself firmly to the far-right Tea Party. From Talking Points Memo:

Kasich, now running for governor of Ohio in a dead heat with incumbent Ted Strickland (D), told a crowd yesterday he was a tea partier before it was cool. 

In exclusive audio obtained by TPMDC and posted below, Kasich gives some insight into why he's so willing to embrace the tenets of the tea party movement. In two separate speeches last year, he warned his fellow Republicans that the tea partiers were serious about changing the Republican party. So serious, he warned twice, that tea partiers would "hang" Republicans "from the nearest tree" if they don't get their way.

A lot of Republican candidates are trying to find alliances among the various tea party movements this year. The attempt at wooing the insurgent conservative movement usually goes like this: The tea partiers challenge candidates about why they didn't vote for a spending bill, social program, or revenue plan way back when, despite claiming to be part of their movement.

Kasich may be the first mainstream Republican candidate for whom the conversation is reversed. Faced with his skill at sounding like the most extreme of the tea partiers, it may be mainline Republicans in Ohio who find themselves wondering if Kasich's really one of them...

"I think I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party," he told a crowd in Columbus.

When it was convenient for him to do so, Gov. Kasich called himself the original Tea Party member. Now, he's trying to change his tone. But we won't be fooled. It's clear that a man who was "in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party" is no fit for the American Jewish community.