In the race for the 2016 Republican nomination, John Kasich is being taken seriously because he’s been a popular governor for Ohio, and because…well…Ohio.

As you may recall, his biggest applause lines in the first GOP debate were for his stance on caring for the mentally ill and for citing God’s unconditional love on the question of gay marriage.

Kasich seems to be running on compassionate conservatism 2.0, but don’t take my word for it.

NBC News reports:

John Kasich Pitches Compassion at Iowa State Fair

Ohio Gov. John Kasich sought to portray himself as compassionate conservative and touted his gains in the polls in New Hampshire when he visited the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday.

His soapbox speech, which had to be moved indoors because of rain, contained little of the red meat typically doled out when Republican presidential candidates address Iowa crowds. Instead, his speech hit on topics ranging from aid to Africa, treating Alzheimer’s disease and expanding Medicaid in Ohio.

“When a young boy or girl dies in Africa, we all lose a little bit of ourselves,” Kasich said while discussing his empathy for the continent.

Kasich recalled a recent conversation with a voter who said he was “a conservative, but I have a big heart.”

Kasich was recently interviewed by Major Garrett of CBS News about his ideas to replace Obamacare. Although he talks a big game on free market solutions, he ultimately comes back to expanding Medicaid. That doesn’t sound like an idea that would appeal to many conservatives:

If you’re still unconvinced about the angle he’s going for, here’s what Shane Goldmacher of National Journal took away from Kasich’s appearance in Iowa last weekend:

John Kasich Shows His Softer Side at Iowa’s State Fair

John Kasich delivered less of a stump speech than a sermon on life, purpose, and happiness during his visit to the Iowa State Fair Tuesday.

“I believe that all of us have to be a center of justice and a center of healing,” Kasich said, “and to realize that life is not just about us alone. Life is about us doing something bigger in our lives for someone else.”

It was an unusual speech, especially in its striking contrast to days of soapbox polemics from other Republican presidential candidates. Part of that was the venue: Kasich’s address was moved indoors in response to unrelenting rain. But mostly it was because, instead of railing against Democrats’ plans or even touting much of his own specific agenda, the sometimes-brusque Kasich spent 20 understated minutes musing about “empathy,” self-fulfillment, and “the value of teamwork.”

This sounds like big government conservatism.

No offense to Governor Kasich but… haven’t we been down this road before?

Featured image via YouTube.