By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
It may be tough for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to make headway in a crowded Republican presidential primary, but at least Chris Matthews is a fan.
Matthews was one of several hosts on leftist cable network MSNBC singing Kasich’s praises following the governor’s campaign announcement Tuesday.
“He’s got a good story to tell, and he could give Jeb Bush a real fight, believe it or not,” Matthews said on the Tuesday episode of Hardball. “Watch this guy, he’s for real.”
Citing Kasich’s support for policies including Obamacare Medicaid expansion, Common Core and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Matthews said, “People like me tend to like this guy.”
“That’s probably why people like you don’t,” Matthews continued, scowling at conservative commentator and former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell.
MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski offered similar praise when discussing Kasich’s announcement speech on the Wednesday episode of Morning Joe.
“His speech suggests he will focus on compassionate conservatism,” Brzezinski said before adding, “He seems so nice and he seems to make so much sense — how in the world is he going to stand out?”
“That sort of speech certainly helps you stand out,” said Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough, who served in Congress with Kasich.
“My dad and Kasich are similar in the sense that they are pragmatic, conservative problem solvers,” MSNBC host Abby Huntsman said during Tuesday’s episode of The Cycle.
She lamented that Republican presidential candidates have “got to feed the far-right what they want.”
On Twitter, Huntsman wished Kasich luck while noting similarities — including key staffers — between Kasich’s campaign and her father Jon’s failed 2012 campaign.
#Kasich roll-out reminds me so much of my dad's four years ago. Same team, same timing, similar strategy. Hope it ends better for him.
— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) July 21, 2015
Steve Kornacki, an MSNBC weekend host and Salon contributor filling in for Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, spent several minutes talking about what a promising candidate Kasich is.
“Republicans want badly to win back the presidency, and Kasich has a real case to make that he can win over the swing voters who aren’t too nuts these days about the Republican party,” Kornacki said.
Acknowledging Kasich may be “doomed” in the Republican primary, Kornacki said the governor’s embrace of Obamacare “could be very attractive in a general election.”
Tim Graham, executive editor at NewsBusters, said Kasich is the sort of Republican the legacy press loves to use to paint conservatives as extremists.
Left-leaning commentators at MSNBC and elsewhere tend to be “meaner and more vicious to smart conservatives,” Graham told Watchdog.org.
Graham said that after watching spending and deficits increase under “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush, Republican primary voters aren’t likely to go for Kasich’s similar message.
“A lot of conservative voters would say the last thing we need right now is to elect a compassionate conservative — and see, it sounds terrible, but this is the way the liberals define things,” Graham said.
“‘Compassionate’ means you’re socialistic enough,” Graham continued. “Let’s do it the other way: When does the media ever say, ‘They’re liberal but they’re logical?'”
Ann Becker, a leader of conservative activist group Ohio Rising, wasn’t surprised to see Chris Matthews and other MSNBC hosts pointing to Kasich as a “pragmatic” Republican.
“The same issues that infuriate conservative grassroots activists in Ohio about Governor Kasich — Common Core, Obamacare Medicaid expansion and his big spending — are the reasons the mainstream media loves him,” Becker told Watchdog.org.