The Corner

Politics & Policy

Thus Ends John Kasich’s Pathetic and Vain Presidential Campaign

John Kasich is calling it quits. Good riddance. It is however, worth remembering exactly how pitiful, delusional, and destructive his campaign had become. 

He didn’t start out pathetic. As a popular center-right governor of a key swing state, he had a case to make, but he proceeded to make it in the most cloying, disingenuous, and self-righteous manner possible. Famously egotistical and thin-skinned, he recast himself as some sort of Republican Christ figure (he actually called himself the “prince of light and hope“), hugging his way across the land. He took advantage of his own irrelevance (no one bothered to waste any time attacking him) to cast himself as above the fray — the only adult in the room.

When it became clear that he had no chance in New Hampshire, he defined victory down — all the way down to an almost 20-point loss to Donald Trump. On primary night he had the incredible audacity to declare, “Tonight, the light overcame the darkness.”

Kasich was just warming up. He barnstormed to fourth and fifth-place victories, accumulating virtually no delegates but siphoning off valuable votes from contenders who had an actual chance. He ultimately won a single state — Ohio — and even in his home state he couldn’t muster a majority of the vote.

But the prince of light took his plurality as a sign that better days were ahead and plowed on — functioning mainly as Trump’s best friend, rendering it impossible to ever test Trump in a true one-on-one matchup. Trump may have prevailed in single combat, but it is a great tragedy of the race that he never faced that test.

Ego is a terrible thing, and one got the feeling that Kasich just couldn’t believe that someone as amazing as he believed himself to be was actually losing. If it weren’t for Trump’s over-the-top boasts, Kasich would have easily been the GOP’s egomaniac-in-chief. His debate answers almost always circled back to boasts about his incredible record in office, his amazing history of public service, and his extraordinary temperament and popularity. If Trump’s one-word message was “winning,” then Kasich’s one-word message was “me.”

Good-bye, John Kasich. You’ve tainted your legacy, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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