Washington (CNN) - With the Tea Partiers throwing their weight around in Republican primaries nationwide, a number of GOP candidates have spoken at Tea Party rallies and huddled with the small government activists who make up the movement.
But John Kasich, the Republican candidate hoping to topple Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland this November, was apparently the very first.
"I've been all over the state, including with our friends in the Tea Party movement," Kasich said Thursday during a press conference in Columbus announcing his running mate, state Auditor Mary Taylor. He added: "I think I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."
Kasich - a former congressman, talk show host and Lehman Brothers investment banker - praised the movement for "saying enough of the same old tired promises, pushing problems down the road. Let's fix things now."