Ohio Gov. John Kasich's slow rise in the presidential primary polls is being carefully watched by front-runners Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, but not because they fear he will challenge them.
Insiders report that both Cruz and Trump see the populist conservative as the best choice for a potential running mate.
Kasich is running hard for president, and has emerged in the No. 2 spot in one poll of New Hampshire voters, but is far behind Cruz, Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in national polls. However, he is not yet even thinking about the vice presidency.
But others are as they see a path to victory for either Cruz or Trump. And by focusing on Kasich, the two realize that they will need an authentic Washington insider with strong ties to Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to ride shotgun with them if elected to the presidency in November.
"Why would he be a good choice for veep?" said one advisor to both candidates.
"He had 18 years in the House. He is a two-term governor of major state Obama won twice, Ohio. He has been thoroughly vetted via running for president and two statewide elections," said the advisor.
Another insider said that Kasich is well-liked in GOP circles and is "acceptable to a significant portion of the establishment." The proof: his presidential candidacy has been endorsed by several current and former House members.
What's more, they said, his long-time expertise in federal budgeting makes him very valuable. "Neither Trump nor Cruz has any deep understanding of the federal budget," said our tipster. "He could totally talk the talk and walk the walk with House and Senate members. He speaks their language. There would be a clear channel of communication back and forth, White House to Hill and vice versa," he added.
Politics sometimes also plays in picking a running mate and Kasich, by virtue of being governor of the most important battleground state in the country, makes him an obvious potential pick. And he might also help to swing other key states to the GOP ticket.
"Kasich would make an Ohio win very easy. He would also open the door to possibility of competing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and he basically could work the Midwestern states," said the campaign advisor.
Of course, if Trump or Cruz pick Kasich, they'd have to overlook some of actions in Ohio, where the governor implemented Obamacare. But as past presidential nominees have done, differences would be overlooked if Kasich could help either get elected.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.