John Kasich Parkinson's Imitation Marks Ad Hoc Speech That Veered Off The Rails
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) does not generally script his speeches, preferring to form his remarks off-the-cuff based on notes. In the case of his State of the State address on Tuesday, that approach appears to have come back to bite the first-term chief executive, as he issued a rambling 100-minute speech that featured a series of bizarre -- and potentially offensive -- statements and actions.
During the address, Kasich imitated a Parkinson's patient, cried, insulted the people of California, praised his "hot wife," gave 14 shout-outs to the same person and played an awards show host while tearfully channeling a famously emotional fellow Ohio Republican, House Speaker John Boehner.
Roughly 70 minutes into the speech, Kasich discussed medical research and its impact on the Buckeye State's economy. He was highlighting a deep brain massage program at Ohio State University to cure Parkinson's when he started simulating the shaking actions that mark the disease as a means of highlighting what he and his cabinet saw when they visited the facility.
"By the way, he's got a guy working up there by the name of Doctor Rezai -- this guy is doing deep brain massage," Kasich said of the program. "And I went up -- the cabinet saw it, but I was up there and there was a man and what he does is he puts a sensor imprint in the brain and pacemaker in the shoulder and it sends a signal to disrupt the bad signals that cause Parkinson's in people. There was a man, they shut off the pacemaker, they put it back on. He gave me a carved piece of wood. It was like magic."
Kasich framed the speech as a pep talk for Ohioans, but in order to promote his record on job creation, he took swipes at residents of other states.
"A year ago, Ohio ranked 48th in job creation," he said. "We trailed only Michigan and California in lost jobs -- Michigan, the home of the auto industry that was devastated and California, of course, filled by a bunch of wackadoodles."
In a break from tradition, the governor moved the speech's location from the Capitol in Columbus to a school auditorium in the rural town of Steubenville, near the Pennsylvania border. He used the rural location to highlight new investment in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state, which will occur primarily in the areas closer to Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Frank Semple of MarkWest will be investing $500 million in starting new fracking businesses in the state, he announced.
The governor also championed the state's coal industry.
"We're the Saudi Arabia of coal. Clean it and burn it," he said. "Clean it, Gordon, and burn it. Clean it, Battelle, and burn it. Use it."
At one point, Kasich saluted his wife, Karen, describing her as his "hot wife."
"And I also want to give a nice comment about my wife, Karen Kasich," he said. "Sweetie, stand, take a little wave, would you, okay? I remember that cartoon that said, 'Kasich will still not reveal how he snagged that hot wife.'"
Fourteen times during the speech, Kasich singled out Ohio State University President Gordon Gee by name, in reference to medical research, higher education and coal. Kasich highlighted Gee's past experience leading five universities and publicly pinned his hopes on OSU, saying that the school could help the state recover economically.
"God bless Gordon," he said.
Lastly, Kasich cried as he announced the new Governor's Courage Awards. He awarded medals to three Ohioans who performed extraordinary service to the state -- but he did so with a surprising word of warning for these local heroes.
"We don't want to see those on eBay, ladies," he said.
Anna Staver contributed to this report.