Rep. John Kasich Wednesday ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, short of both cash and public support, and endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush. "I feel as though I have a soul brother," he said.
With Bush at his side, the nine-term Ohio congressman said he would make every effort to keep his ideas alive, but that he would not run for re-election. "I've accomplished everything I set out to accomplish in the House of Representatives," said Kasich, chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The Texas governor and his newest supporter both donned Bush campaign hats.
Commenting on Kasich's unsuccessful campaign, Bush said, "Sometimes the stars align and sometimes they don't."
He welcomed Kasich to his campaign team, saying, "To me he represents the best of the political process."
Earlier Wednesday, at a news conference in Columbus, Ohio, he said would campaign across the country for fellow Republicans. "At the top of my list will be my efforts to elect George Bush," he said. "This business of compassionate conservative, I wish I'd thought it up," he said, referring to the Bush campaign theme.
Despite his problems competing with Bush's fund-raising juggernaut, Kasich said he had been encouraged by the response to his campaign in places like New Hampshire and Iowa. "What they told me was, 'We love you, but it's not your time."'
Bringing his wife Karen to the stage with him, Kasich also announced she was expecting a baby February 19, their first child.
Kasich became the second candidate in two days to announce his withdrawal from consideration for the Republican nomination for president. New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith said Tuesday he was quitting the party and running for president as an independent.
Technically, Kasich never became an announced candidate for the nomination, having set up an exploratory committee to finance his travels. But there was never any doubt that he was running hard, and he made many trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that will hold the first caucuses and primary, respectively, of the campaign season in 2000.
Recent polls showed Kasich in single digits and unable to break into the tier of contenders closest to Bush. He was able to raise only $1.6 million in the first six months of 1999, compared with Bush's total of $36.25 million.
"I think John's always been realistic about this thing, realistic about his fund raising," said Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party since 1988. "That's why he's got an exploratory committee."
Kasich, 47, has used the platform of the House Budget Committee, which he has chaired since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, to preach fiscal conservatism. He had a lead role in the GOP's plans to cut spending and balance the budget and has been a critic of government subsidies to business and industry, which he calls "corporate welfare."
Republian officials also said they did not expect Kasich to reverse a decision to leave Congress at the end of his term.
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