Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been slugging it out for the New York presidential primary all month with rallies galore and heated debates. Donald Trump has focused his attention on Long Island, Staten Island and confused tourists. Ted Cruz has tried appealing to orthodox Jewish voters with matzah. With all that going on, it's easy to forget that Linkin Park superfan John Kasich is also still running for president. Voters certainly have!
CBS battleground polls
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 17, 2016
It's hard to remember much about Kasich besides the fact he loathes Fargo the way NYers loathe sick passenger subway delays, and he has unequivocally moronic views on rape culture. Instead of holding rallies, Kasich has adopted a different strategy to stand out from the crowd: eating his way into the hearts of NYers, with photo ops galore at various local delis and diners. It seems at this point that his most endearing quality is his willingness to eat his feelings in front of reporters—this NY culinary food tour has finally broken Kasich.
— CNN (@CNN) April 17, 2016
Mind you, all the candidates have engaged in food pandering to some extent while here—Hillary with her cheesecake, Bernie with his hot dogs. But unlike those other candidates, Kasich's prodigious feasting around the city has become one of the defining features of his longshot campaign (which speaks more to the deep wells of disinterest in his candidacy at this point). If Kasich were running for president of the Health Department, or trying to stealthily nominate himself for the job of Restaurant Grade Food Czar, we'd really be impressed. Even with his occasional gaffes (pizza forking), it's clear he's very passion about the food here.
This isn't a new thing for him either—as you can see from this vintage video of Kasich (complete with Ken Burns-worthy haircut), ordering food brings out all of his charm (or what approximates charm for him).
Did Kasich mean for things to turn out this way? When he launched his campaign for president in 2015, did he envision a future in which he dumped massive amounts of carbs down his throat while surrounded by political reporters who desperately wish they hadn't drawn the short straw on the campaign trail? How many other candidates are having their soup consumption analyzed in YouTube videos?
First there was the possibly-staged pizza incident at Howard Beach pizzeria Gino's—picking at his piping-hot slice with a knife and fork finally gave Kasich something to talk about with late night hosts (albeit, just Seth Meyers—Kasich isn't Fallon-worthy).
It also gave Kasich something to talk about on Good Morning America.
And gave Kasich an excuse to eat even more pizza a few days later with Extra in Times Square.
A trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx was not quite as controversial an outing, but it still provided some material for those poor campaign reporters. Kasich certainly did more chewing then he did talking about his views on sexual assault.
It all came to a head this weekend as Kasich dined at PJ Bernstein, a kosher-style deli on the Upper East Side. Thanks to the fact that reporters following him have nothing better to write about (although they do!), we know the minute-by-minute details of his meal: he indulged in a bowl of chicken soup with kreplach, apple strudel ("without the whipped cream or any of that other fattening stuff"), and three pickles. The NY Times was by his side describing the scene: "A swarm of journalists surrounded him, ready to document any misguided utensil usage."
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) April 16, 2016
But here, Kasich finally reached his limits: "I can’t eat anymore. I’ve eaten so much!" he said as he rejected a pastrami sandwich. When the historians write the definite account of the 2016 presidential election, this will be Kasich's Waterloo. And the title of that piece should definitely be, "John Kasich Eats A Pickle."
John Kasich eats a pickle pic.twitter.com/GImYUjRDzF
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) April 16, 2016
John Kasich is not going to be president—he's not going to even be the Republican nominee—but at least he has some nice memories of this trip.
Kasich today: "I am currently working on a secret plan to delay the primary so I can spend more time eating in NY." pic.twitter.com/KfM2Mc4ElD
— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) April 16, 2016
I won't be happy until someone combines footage of Kasich's food tour with the audio of Mike Ehrmantraut's "I broke my boy" speech from Better Call Saul.