John Kasich, once a reasonably serious candidate for president, has found a new cause: attacking Daniel Radcliffe.
During a brief stop in New Hampshire on August 29, Kasich surprised everyone by taking aim, not at a political rival, but at Harry Potter.
According to the Concord Monitor, Kasich had flown to New Hampshire to endorse Republican Chris Sununu in his party's gubernatorial primary. Following his endorsement, the pair went on a tour of the town of Exeter, at one point ducking into a local book store. There, Kasich reportedly mused about the future prospects of recent Olympic athletes, and, as he flipped through a copy of the newest Harry Potter book (presumably the just-released Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) asked aloud, "You know that Daniel Radcliffe has declared himself an atheist?"
“I’m serious. What a weird thing," Kasich, a man who actually won a presidential primary, groused. "Why would a guy who has had all that success just, I mean, what the hell is wrong with him?" (Coincidentally, "what the hell is wrong with him?" would have been a killer line for Kasich to use while sharing the stage with Donald Trump. Oh well!)
The store's owner asked Kasich to change the subject, the Monitor said.
Radcliffe himself has reportedly not responded to the governor's remarks.
Thought it's a long and embarrassing fall from articulating policy during a primary debate to ranting about an actor in a bookstore, Kasich was, in fact, correct about the particulars. Radcliffe's been vocal about his atheism, declaring in a 2009 interview, "I'm an atheist, but I'm very relaxed about it. I don't preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do."
Evidently, being a "relaxed" atheist who has achieved success in his field was nevertheless a bridge too far for Kasich, who is a devout member of the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative offshoot of mainstream Episcopalianism.
In the wake of Kasich's unexpected remarks, American Atheists President David Silverman penned an open letter excoriating the Ohio governor for calling Radcliffe "weird", and urging him to meet with atheist constituents.
"Rather than saying that we are “weird” or that there is something wrong with us, find out what it means to be an atheist," Silverman urged. "Let your fellow Ohioans who happen to be atheists show you why we care about the direction of our nation."
It remains to be seen whether Kasich will take Silverman up on his offer.