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Ohio's John Kasich Continues GOP's Year-Long Chicken Problem

First Posted: 06/24/10 06:38 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:55 PM ET

John Kasich Chicken Shack

I don't know if the GOP missed the whole decline and fall of would-be Nevada Senator Sue Lowden, but let me reinforce the message for them: y'all should avoid talking about chickens.

This perhaps comes too late for the campaign staff of former Ohio Representative John Kasich, who's battling Governor Ted Strickland in the Ohio gubernatorial race. TPM's Evan McMorris-Santoro flags a quote from idiot Kasich staffer Rob Nichols that ended up in the Dayton Daily News:

"Not until Ted Strickland feared needing their votes did he give urban Ohioans a second thought. Having grown up in a chicken shack on Duck Run, he has all but ignored our cities' economies and their workers. It's a disgraceful record."

Oh, man! Chickens and ducks? It's a full on war on poultry! Well, Strickland spent his Congressional career representing Ohio's rural 6th district, so a Strickland staffer was pretty quick to hit back. Per McMorris-Santoro:

"Only the congressman from Wall Street would be so out of touch as to insult Ted's humble upbringing," Strickland spokesperson Lis Smith told the paper, taking the opportunity to restate the Strickland line of attack on Kasich's past work on the staff of Lehman Brothers.

Since then, Democrats have done their best to turn this moment into a redux of the Lowden "chicken" flap -- a brickbat that they can use to hit Kasich with again and again. Here's Tim Kaine, doing his part:

But this isn't just a chicken problem. During the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama caught a ton of flack when he described rural Midwesterners thusly: "So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Those comments, reported on these pages by Mayhill Fowler, became known as "Bittergate," and Obama's opponents did their best to paint the candidate as out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Maybe the GOP doesn't remember the episode with sufficient clarity or perhaps they've surmised that, as was the case with Obama, it's politically survivable. But in a year where populism is on the lips of every pundit, the GOP has lately fallen into a pattern of pissing on the sort of folks that BP's Swedish Chairman Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg's errant tongue called "the small people."

It's not just Joe Barton apologizing to BP for that time we got cross with them for despoiling America's Gulf Coast. A week ago, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) got gaffey when he described his first meeting with GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle:

"She did a good job. She's an articulate lady," Isakson said. "This was an introduction. It wasn't the kind of speech you would give to the unwashed back home. She was talking to her colleagues."

And Angle herself has taken to disdainfully squawking at the people who have had it the hardest this year in her state and the nation, referring to the unemployed as "spoiled" and making it clear that solving the unemployment crisis is not something she plans to make her problem: "As your U.S. Senator, I'm not in the business of creating jobs."

Not sure who the GOP thinks they can reach with these sorts of sentiments. Seems like they're out of touch and have flown the coop.

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