Morning Joe Panel: Kasich's Debate Performance 'Reaganesque', Medicaid Answer 'Best of the Entire Night'

Following Thursday night’s explosive Republican primary debate on Fox News, MSNBC’s Morning Joe was in Cleveland for reaction. A panel heaped praise on Ohio governor John Kasich, particularly regarding his response to a question from Megyn Kelly about Medicaid expansion. Willie Geist described it as “the best answer of the entire night that any candidate gave.” Host Joe Scarborough thought he “hit it out of the park.” John Heilemann, regular guest on Morning Joe and host of Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, claimed Kasich’s general performance was “Reaganesque in some ways.” 

In fact, not one contributor to the show disputed the contention that the Ohio governor had a great night. Co-host Mika Brzezinski thought Kasich had a “good night.” Former RNC chairman Michael Steele believed that his strong debate will eventually “show him moving up rapidly” in the polls. 

Heilemann added to his comments about Kasich’s “Reaganesque” temperament, saying “he spoke the language of optimism...[h]e was sunny, he was hopeful, and he was very much himself. And that again is really playing to his advantage as he tries to get a little altitude in this race.”

After first criticizing the debate moderators for softball questions – with the exception of those directed at businessman Donald Trump – Scarborough mentioned that the Medicaid expansion question from Megyn Kelly was tough: 

Basically saying do we have to worry you about you using Jesus to raise our taxes and raise spending? [inaudible] So, that was very tough. Which actually is one of the things, Willie, that made Kasich's answer to that so impressive. That – unlike Donald Trump, Kasich got a fastball at his head and he hit it out of the park. That was one of the better moments all night. 

Positive press for John Kasich’s performance hasn’t been limited to Morning Joe. Last night, Andrea Mitchell cheered the Ohio governor’s defense of his decision to support Medicaid expansion.

The relevant portion of the transcript is below. 

MSNBC
Morning Joe 
August 7, 2015

WILLIE GEIST: I thought – I thought two people jumped out. I thought John Kasich was really good. Part of that probably was that his – for this reason right here, he was in the hometown arena. He got a lot of cheers where others didn’t get them.
    
[...]

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think it was a good night for John Kasich. A good night for Marco Rubio. A good night for Chris Christie and a great night for Carly Fiorina.

MICHAEL STEELE: I pretty much echo that. I thought Kasich and Rubio for me did the best to help themselves, move up, get focus. And particularly for someone like John Kasich who just literally got in the race, to suddenly climb on to that stage in that tenth position and to stand out. And I think the polls are gonna show him moving up rapidly. And overall, both debates, hands down for me was Carly. I thought she just hit it out of the park. 

AL HUNT: I thought John Kasich. I agree with that. 

[...]

BRZEZINSKI: Governor John Kasich was asked about his justification for being one of the few Republican governors to embrace the Medicaid expansion. Take a look. 

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: Basically saying do we have to worry you about you using Jesus to raise our taxes and raise spending? [inaudible] So, that was very tough. Which actually is one of the things, Willie, that made Kasich's answer to that so impressive. That – unlike Donald Trump, Kasich got a fastball at his head and he hit it out of the park. That was one of the better moments all night. 

GEIST: I thought that was maybe the best answer of the entire night that any candidate gave. He took that, as you said, took that, pivoted off it. And if you were following sort of the reaction online from both sides, people who don't agree with any Republican, thought hey, John Kasich, good answer. 

[...]

JOHN HEILEMANN: The place where Kasich stood out above Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, all of them, [he] spoke the language of optimism last night. Sounding the most Reaganesque in some ways. He was sunny, he was hopeful, and he was very much himself. And that again is really playing to his advantage as he tries to get a little altitude in this race. 

NB Daily 2016 Presidential Medicaid Morning Joe ObamaCare Willie Geist John Heilemann Joe Scarborough Michael Steele

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