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Ohio Gov. Kasich announces 2016 presidential bid

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Governor John Kasich made a relatively late entry to the 2016 race for the White House on Tuesday, becoming the 16th Republican to announce his candidacy.

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Ohio Governor John Kasich is accompanied by his wife Karen (right) as he arrives on stage to formally announce his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday. (Reuters / Aaron P. Bernstein)

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Governor John Kasich made a relatively late entry to the 2016 race for the White House on Tuesday, becoming the 16th Republican to announce his candidacy.

Kasich, a former U.S. congressman, is likely to be the last prominent Republican to enter the field of 16 candidates. He will need to make a mark quickly to qualify for the party's first debate on Aug. 6.

"I believe I do have the skills and I have the experience and the testing which shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world," Kasich told supporters at Ohio State University.

As the popular governor of an important swing state, Kasich has a record in both Washington and Ohio that could make him a heavyweight candidate.

A moderate Republican with a reputation for bluntness, Kasich ranks 14th out of 16 Republican candidates in a Reuters/Ipsos online poll, and he is in 12th place in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.

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That puts him in danger of not qualifying for the first Republican debate. To take part, candidates must be in the top 10 in national polls by August 4.

A selling point for the two-term governor will be the economic recovery in Ohio on his watch. Kasich says he guided the state's budget from an $8 billion deficit to a surplus without raising taxes, although Democrats says the U.S. economic recovery played a major part.

Kasich is popular in Ohio, likely to be a battleground in the November, 2016 general election. A Quinnipiac University poll in June gave him a 54 percent job approval rating there.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich played a key role in balancing the federal budget with a bipartisan deal in 1997 under former President Bill Clinton.

Conservatives have criticized Kasich for taking federal money for an expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

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