John Kasich Regroups Following SC Primary Results, Defunds Planned Parenthood In Ohio

Governor John Kasich’s polls and primary results have been consistently disappointing during the 2016 GOP primary season, particularly for the sitting governor of a very important swing state like Ohio. Kasich finished fifth in the South Carolina GOP primary on Saturday, yet former Florida governor Jeb Bush dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination after finishing fourth.

John Kasich has cultivated and held onto a reputation as the “reasonable” GOP candidate and as the only moderate Republican running for president. Due to this strategy, the Kasich campaign received a much-needed morale boost immediately following their abysmal South Carolina primary results when Jeb Bush announced his decision to suspend campaigning — Bush, while not considered as moderate a candidate as John Kasich, is a member of the Bush dynasty and a former governor, making him an establishment choice and closer to Kasich on both the political and experience spectrums than the other remaining Republican candidates. The departures of Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have allowed the John Kasich campaign to hope that their supporters will throw their support behind Kasich as the campaigns move toward Super Tuesday on March 1 — and as New York City businessman Donald Trump continues to dominate.

John Kasich still lags significantly behind not only Donald Trump, but also behind Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), the second place finisher in the South Carolina primary results, and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who came in third. Even if he were to collect every single one of Jeb Bush’s supporters going into the GOP Nevada caucus on Tuesday, February 23 — and some of those supporters are expected to switch to Marco Rubio, who shares Bush’s home state and is seen as a bridge between fringe candidates Trump and Cruz and “establishment” choices Bush and Kasich — John Kasich’s polls still would not place him in the running to snatch the nomination away from Donald Trump or even from Rubio.

John Kasich appeared on Sunday’s episode of Face the Nation the morning after his crushing loss in the South Carolina primary, and Politico reports that he depicted his campaign as “struggling” through to March — not exactly an optimistic message to broadcast to supporters, nor to the potential supporters he hopes to pull from Jeb Bush. He also attempted to put forth the claim that he purposely limited resources in South Carolina and made the strategic decision to take a hit in that particular race. Kasich plans to win delegates in as many states that are not winner-take-all as he possibly can, knowing he is unlikely to win any states outright on Super Tuesday — and to then reset the race by doing well in his home state of Ohio on March 15.

“I didn’t play in South Carolina and we’re going to go on March 1st to a number of states where we’re going to do well. It’s a matter of continuing on. And we’re going to keep struggling to make sure that we can be out there, keep putting the resources out there to be in a position to do well.”

John Kasich’s aforementioned reputation as a moderate took a massive hit on Sunday when he signed legislation that effectively defunds Planned Parenthood in Ohio. The new state law strips funding from all health clinics, including Planned Parenthood locations, that provide or promote what the legislation calls “non-therapeutic abortions” — abortion procedures that are not performed in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the patient.

John Kasich’s choice to sign this bill into law highlights the extreme anti-choice position that must be taken by any serious Republican candidate for an elected office at the national level. The Huffington Post reports that Planned Parenthood in Ohio now stands to lose $1.3 million in state grants for “HIV testing, cancer screenings and programs that help prevent domestic violence and infant mortality.”

[Image courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images]