When a candidate surges, competitors hit harder and journalists dig deeper. And so we have this devastating bombshell about Ohio governor John Kasich, runner-up in the New Hampshire primary: He once tried to hang out on stage with the Grateful Dead but was escorted away in a huff.
June 1991. Kasich, then 39, was in his fourth term representing his Columbus district. Unmarried and energetic, he loved going to concerts in Washington after wrapping up business on the Hill.
"He was an avid rock 'n' roller," says former Ohio congressman Dennis Eckart, who entered the House with Kasich in the class of '82.
"He was a whirling dervish in those years," the late congressman Mike Oxley told me last year.
"He was single and in the minority [party] in Congress," campaign adviser Bob Rusbuldt told me on the Kasich bus in November in New Hampshire. "There was a lot of time to do nothing."
The Grateful Dead was playing RFK Stadium. Kasich had a backstage pass through Dwight Yoakam, the opener, and was onstage during Yoakam's set. When Kasich tried to use his credentials to rejoin the spectating entourage on stage as the Dead played, he was blocked by the tour manager. Kasich pulled the "don't you know who I am?" card, according to a witness interviewed by Post reporter Lois Romano, and said he could prevent the Dead from ever playing Washington again.
"Oh, come on," Kasich later responded to Romano, who wrote about the incident. "Telling the Grateful Dead you're a congressman is not going to get you onstage. This is way off the mark. . . I said, 'Hey, why won't you let me on — I can't understand why you're not letting me on.' I argued with him for a few minutes and then I left. I probably should not have argued with the guy. I don't think I was angry. I'm a pretty upbeat guy."
Kasich is indeed upbeat, as well as impatient, and he's still a big fan of rock music. Metallica and Linkin Park are two of his favorite bands. He envies the lifestyle of Enrique Iglesias. He's been to a Maroon 5 concert and says "it was really, really good." He's into Imagine Dragons right now.
"Well I listen to both some of the pop stuff and I listen to the alternative music," Kasich told me in November. "And in terms of what groups — I can't always tells because you don't know when you listen to the radio."
He used to be a fan of Kanye West, he told C-SPAN's Steve Scully, but has gravitated to "soothing" Christian music during the campaign. He thinks Pink Floyd's "The Wall" concert in Pittsburgh was the best concert he's ever been to.
"If I'm the president, I'm going to — once and for all — try to reunite Pink Floyd to come together and play a couple songs," Kasich said on CNN last week. "And since we have so much trouble in America with our finances, I'm going to start with a little song they created called 'Money.'"
"That's better than 'Comfortably Numb,'" responded CNN's Alisyn Camerota.
"We may be comfortably numb when we're done with New Hampshire," Kasich said.
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