John Kasich had never been called a RINO before and he wasn't having it.
At the 1998 Ohio College Republican convention, speaker after speaker rose to defend the Gingrich Congress' new budget deal with Bill Clinton that conservatives were panning for hiking government spending. But none did so more forcefully than Kasich.
The college-aged critics were listening to Ivory Tower conservative think tanks and other ideological purists, Kasich said. The Republican Congress, in conjunction with Clinton, was achieving the first balanced budget since 1969.
Kasich had been Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. He was as opposed to corporate welfare as much as he wanted to promote welfare reform for the poor, as critical of the Pentagon purchasing bad weapon systems as he was of social programs.
He was also Paul Ryan before Paul Ryan, the backbencher with crazy ideas about how to cut spending and reform entitlements who rose to chairman of the House Budget Committee. Like Ryan, Kasich went from pushing budget blueprints that got few votes to promoting budgets backed by a majority in the House.