Stephen Colbert and John Kasich Get Heated Over SCOTUS

John Kasich
John Kasich stopped by "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" ahead of Saturday's South Carolina primary. CBS/YouTube

John Kasich was all smiles when he sat down next to Stephen Colbert for Wednesday night's Late Show. When Colbert threw it to a commercial after their interview wrapped, however, the Ohio governor was reeling. After allowing a few easy minutes of canned lines about how the country needs to come together and how damaging the debates have been, Colbert challenged Kasich over his stance regarding the new Supreme Court vacancy. Kasich didn't have much of an answer.

The general stance taken by GOP presidential hopefuls following Antonin Scalia's death has been that the Senate should delay appointing a new justice until the next president takes office. They have taken this position despite the Constitution's stating that the president "shall appoint" new justices, as well as the reality that every candidate would likely be apoplectic if this right were questioned while he was in office.

On Tuesday night, Colbert asked Donald Trump how he would handle the situation if he were president. Trump, seasoned television guest that he is, deflected the question with Trump-like aplomb. But Kasich is not so seasoned. On Wednesday night, Colbert asked him the exact same question. It didn't go so well for the man who finished second to Trump in the New Hampshire primary.

"I'll tell you what the problem is," Kasich responded. "As soon as Scalia died, it was one minute after his death, and the politics started. We are so divided down there. My approach is this: I've said the president ought to withhold this and then we're going to have an election—"

"But we had an election," Colbert interrupted. "We had an election in 2012."

Thrown from his script, Kasich spent the next two minutes fumbling over his words in an attempt to justify his view that the appointment of a new justice should be delayed. Colbert continued to apply pressure, and Kasich reverted to his Rolodex of scripted lines about how "we can't have all this fighting" and how Americans need "unity." Unfortunately for Kasich, this wasn't a debate—the ones he decried earlier in the interview—and he was not going to be saved by the bell. Colbert kept following up, and Kasich kept stumbling. It was awkward.

"Look, you're going to have an election," Kasich stammered at one point. "Let me tell you, you're going to have an election we know it, the blink of an eye. Then, that person who is elected president will have the confirmation to be able to appoint who they want, and I think it will be a more orderly, less political fight than what we're seeing now."

The audience booed.

Eventually, the time came for a commercial break, and Kasich snuck in one last mini-screed about how we need to stop demonizing each other. The crowd applauded and Kasich smiled, just not as enthusiastically as when he first walked out onto the stage.