Kasich laid the groundwork for a presidential campaign in 1997-98 through Pioneer PAC, his leadership PAC. He established Kasich 2000, a presidential exploratory committee, on January 13, 1999 and formally announced his exploratory effort in Columbus on February 15. In the next five months, Kasich proved among the most active and energetic of the Republican candidates. He argued for "running America from the bottom up" and taking power from the elites in Washington. In ten trips to New Hampshire and seven to Iowa, Kasich brought his campaign directly into people's living rooms, holding 43 coffees and receptions. He showed a flair for creative campaigning in events such as a "Rolling Through Iowa" tour of bowling alleys and a ride on a dog sled in New Hampshire. Ultimately, however, a House seat did not provide a broad enough base from which to launch a presidential campaign and fundraising fell short. After assessing his chances Kasich reached a decision: "Don't go away. Don't give it up. This just isn't your time."
Kasich, who is now in his ninth
term in the House, said he
will serve out the remaining one and a half years of his congressional
term but will not seek re-election to Congress. "I'm a believer
that public service can be provided outside government," he said.
Kasich also disclosed that his wife Karen is expecting their first
[Applause] I think I didn't think this out right. I should have quit two or three times over the last couple of months; I would have gotten all this attention. This is fantastic today and I want to thank my friends for being here. And I think as all of you know I dedicated every single piece of my life over the course of the last five months to try to determine whether I should pursue the Republican nomination for president.
And I have tell you in the course of doing this I probably had about the greatest experience of my life, because I had a chance to renew myself and to present my ideas to some of the sweetest people in some of the most wonderful settings. I concluded Sunday afternoon in a pine grove on the edge of Lake Winapasaukee with forty wonderful people in New Hampshire who were gathered to talk about America and the future and the importance of people.
And definitely everywhere I went all over the country, whether it was the excitement of the Silicon Valley or whether it was the heavy industry and the executives and leaders in Chicago or the crazy excitement in New York or whether it was in New Hampshire on the coast, people received me very warmly. They liked my ideas. And the thing I guess I was the most excited about is I was able to take real grassroots campaigning from sled dog racing to the sweet ideas called coffees where you have an opportunity to let people look in your eyes and to get to know you and understand you. I'm not at all discouraged because the message was pretty clear from people: John we like you, we like your style, we like your ideas, we like your enthusiasm, and we particularly like what you've done to our kids, in the sense of giving them hope again that the system can work.
But also at the same time I had to be honest and I had to assess. And the assessment that I made and the words that heard were, "Don't go away. Don't give it up. This just isn't your time." And I think you have to be man enough in life to take the good with those things that are disappointments. But I have to tell you that I have absolutely no regrets. In fact John Kasich grew as a man, and I believe that I've grown as a leader as a result of this experience.
And I'm going to have an opportunity to go back this weekend to Iowa and to go back to New Hampshire and thank the many people that I met. And my message to them is going to be thank you. And my message is going to be that I'll be back, there'll be another day, we're not to give up.
And you know I said to young people all over the country in my speeches at graduations and whenever I had a chance to speak, particularly to the young Republicans, that you live your dreams. You use your energy and your enthusiasm and your persistence and you don't give up. And my message to everyone today who has a little bit of energy and excitement that's been generated by this movement, not just by John Kasich, but the movement to restore some hope and idealism in America, is "I'm not going to give up and I'm not going to go away; we've got a long road ahead and we're going to have a lot of fun." So this has been an exciting experience for me.
At the same time, it's also important for me to tell you that I will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives. There are two people who set an example that I think we all can learn from. Michael Jordan hit that shot at the end of that game. And we still remember how he hung on and how we've had that etched in our minds. And at the same time last night, the great courage and the great example of Ted Williams, on his last time at bat he hit a home run and said that it was over.
I've accomplished everything that I ever set out to accomplish in the House of Representatives. I, this morning, told my constituents that I love them because they supported me and they gave me a piece of themselves that I carried to Washington and really around the country. But the fact is that I think the time does come when you know it's time to go. I have accomplished as I said, so many of the things that I wanted to achieve, from balancing the budget to reforming the Pentagon and grounding the only major weapons system grounded in the century, in a bipartisan way, and [inaud.] welfare reform and the excitement of 1995--yeah I got to the mountain top.
There's a lot of other things though that I want to accomplish. I want to continue to reform corporate welfare, and I hope were going to have the greatest transfer of power in this country so we can run America from the bottom up. And let me just say this to you. Both in my job in Congress and as my candidacy reflects, running America from the bottom up is the mechanical way to give people power. But that was not really the mission.
The mission, ladies and gentlemen, is about our spirit. It's about what it means to be an American: the ability to believe that you and I, working together, can change the world. And so my fight to take power from all big forms of government and to restore it to people and allow us to strengthen our communities and to strengthen our families and to strengthen individuals, that's what builds a stronger America. And with that freedom and that ability to self-govern comes a set of responsibilities that all of us have to move the world and lead for a better America.
So now is the time for me to move to another venue. I don't want to stay in the House and just go re-election, election after election after election; I need to be renewed, and I need to seek a different platform. And I'm also of the belief, as in my generation, you know it's time for the baby boomers to step up to the plate, to provide the leadership, to leave a lasting mark upon this nation. And I'm a believer that public service can be provided outside government. And I'm going to use every effort I can to keep my ideas alive, because this was never just about a campaign. This is about my heart and my soul and the hearts and souls of so many other people who participated in this movement. I'm going to spend the next year and a half doing my job on Capitol Hill, and I'm going to go all over this country to help the city councilmen, the state legislators, the governors, the senators, my colleagues to make sure that the Republican message is spread and that Republicans are elected.
But I'm also very excited with the fact that I'm going to make it a top priority to fight and work for the election of my friend George Bush to the White House in 2000. And I want to tell you that it's an easy decision for me, because George Bush is a man who believes in bottom up. He does believe in the power of people. You think I haven't been watching him cut taxes, provide for strengthening of faith-based institutions, the need to stand up for people who rarely get stood up for, the need to stand up for people who rarely get stood up for, to end the polarization in America, to end the division that we have. And George Bush's term of compassionate conservative really kind of defines exactly what John Kasich is all about. And many times when I watched the governor delivering a speech or an interview on television, I swear I could have turned the sound down and put my own voice in there. And so I feel as though I have a soul brother. I've got somebody that sees this future for our country the same way that I do. And I'm very privileged and honored today to have George Bush with us and I'd like for him to come out on the stage.