John Kasich was back at the Statehouse for his first event since leaving the governor’s office in January – the unveiling of his official portrait.
Kasich was praised by his successor and fellow Republican Mike DeWine, and by Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), who also confirmed the difficult relationship between GOP lawmakers and Kasich in his final years in office.
“We didn’t always agree, and I don’t think that’s a secret to anybody in the room that there are, from time to time, tension between the branches," Obhof said. "But you never had any doubt where you stood with the Governor, and he wasn’t shy about telling you. And you never had to worry about whether there would be a lack of communication from his end in letting you know.”
Kasich wasn’t shy in his remarks either.
“Sitting there in that chair, I could kind of feel what it must be like to be dead, because you start to get a measure of what they included," Kasich said with a laugh. "And now I’m going to have to put some things out about my great sports prowess, my good looks, all these things – my humility. You gotta get all that stuff out there fairly soon.”
Kasich reflected on his years in Congress and as governor, and about his run for president. He won Ohio’s GOP primary in 2016 but his unwillingness to endorse Donald Trump and his criticism of him still angers many Republicans.
But Kasich said he drew much from his election as Ohio’s chief executive, which started with a memorable phrase in 2010.
"You remember the old ‘get on the bus or I’m going to run you over with the bus?’ That was designed for the special interests that could gum up the works, not for the people but the groups that could get in the way," Kasich said, referring to a comment made just days after unseating Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland. "Because the longer you’re in that job, you evolve as a person. The press used to ask me, and I would say, nah, I haven’t really changed much. As I reflect back on it, I changed dramatically, caring more and more and more about people.”
"We did this outside. I think I’m the first governor to do anything outside like that," Kasich said. "And you can see I’m resting there on the, I am resting there over at the Holocaust Memorial.”
Kasich fought for the Holocaust Memorial after concern that it would be out of place alongside the Civil War era architecture and statuary on the Statehouse grounds.
It was installed in 2014, just a few months before Kasich was elected to his second term.
Kasich was approached by reporters after the event but didn’t want to talk, but was overheard to say that while he didn’t see the portrait before the unveiling, he liked it.