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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I really like this guy: Ohio’s Kasich poised to join big field of GOP candidates

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined the 2016 presidential race Tuesday, carrying a message of fiscal conservatism and social welfare compassion that he hopes will shake upthe Republican Party and vault him into contention for the party’s nomination.

“I am here to ask you for your prayers, for your support, for your efforts because I have decided to run for president of the United States,” the two-term governor told a cheering crowd at a rally on the campus of Ohio State University.

Kasich was joined onstage by his wife and daughters.

His announcement follows months of travel to the early primary and caucus states. Kasich has sought out prospective donors around the country and assembled campaign and Super PAC staffs that include longtime advisers and veteran strategists who are newcomers to his inner circle.

Kasich served in the House for 18 years and was chairman of the Budget Committee at a time when Washington balanced the federal budget for the first time in a generation. He spent another decade in the business world before winning the governorship in 2010. He won reelection in a landslide last November after his Democratic opponent imploded a few months before the general election.

He begins the race far back in the pack, according to most polls. But as the governor of one of the nation’s most important general election states, and with a political style unlike that of others in the race, Kasich’s advisers say they believe he can become a credible threat to win the nomination. His detractors question whether he has the discipline required to win a long and grueling presidential race.

Kasich’s entry rounds out the largest Republican presidential field in modern memory, with at least 16 candidates seeking the nomination. It is a race that includes well-known names and political novices alike. With Kasich, the field includes four sitting governors, four sitting senators, at least four former governors and one former senator.

Collectively, the 2016 field is far more experienced and seen as politically heftier than the group of Republicans who sought the GOP nomination four years ago, setting up a contest in which the winner could be seen as having defeated the best the party has to offer.

So far, however, none of the candidates has truly broken out or broken through, save for businessman Donald Trump. No one, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents who has amassed in excess of $110 million for his campaign and Super PAC, has been able to come close to taking charge of the race.

Trump has dominated the campaign since his entry last month and his skills as a showman have made him the center of attention, for good or ill. The flamboyant reality TV star has found an audience with his harsh rhetoric about illegal immigration and his criticisms of the political leaders, including President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bush and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday evening showed Trump leading the others in the race with 24 percent support. He is, however, anything but a traditional front-runner, if he can be called that. Many Republicans doubt Trump has the staying power or the breadth of appeal to win the GOP nomination.

In recent weeks, he has produced one controversy after another, the latest coming when he appeared to disparage Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as not being a hero just for being captured and held prisoner during the Vietnam War.

That controversy in particular has left in question whether he can sustain the level of support shown in the new poll and there were hints in the Post-ABC poll that the controversy over his McCain comments already has begun to affect his numbers.

But just who will emerge as finalists in the GOP competition remains a matter of debate and conjecture. Beyond Bush, the names most often cited as possible long-distance runners are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is in second place in the Post-ABC poll and leads polls in Iowa, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has natural campaign skills and who argues that he would contrast favorably against HillaryClinton in a general election.

The field is so large that not everyone now running will be invited onto the stage at the first debate, which will be held on Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Fox News, which is hosting that event, has declared that only the top 10 candidates, based on a group of national polls, will qualify. Those who do not will have the opportunity to participate in other forums that week.

At this point, there are two races underway. One is a contest among some of the most conservative candidates for supremacy in Iowa. The other is a largely separate contest among those candidates seen as less conservative and more acceptable to the party establishment who doubt they can win in Iowa and will need to finish strongly in New Hampshire to stay alive.

It is the New Hampshire contest that is most attractive to Kasich, according to his advisers. He has spent the past two years separating himself from some of the harder edges of the conservative movement. He has said often that he wants to define what it means to be a Republican.

In Ohio, he engineered an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, in contrast to many Republican governors. He has championed spending more money on such things as treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. He cites his religious faith as motivating him to help those in need. He has said he is open to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

At this point, there are two races underway. One is a contest among some of the most conservative candidates for supremacy in Iowa. The other is a largely separate contest among those candidates seen as less conservative and more acceptable to the party establishment who doubt they can win in Iowa and will need to finish strongly in New Hampshire to stay alive.

It is the New Hampshire contest that is most attractive to Kasich, according to his advisers. He has spent the past two years separating himself from some of the harder edges of the conservative movement. He has said often that he wants to define what it means to be a Republican.

In Ohio, he engineered an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, in contrast to many Republican governors. He has championed spending more money on such things as treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. He cites his religious faith as motivating him to help those in need. He has said he is open to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

In his first term, he signed a bill that restricted collective bargain rights for public employee unions, along the lines of legislation that caused a partisan political eruption in Wisconsin under Walker. When Ohio voters rejected the plan in a later ballot initiative, Kasich accepted defeat and has not clashed seriously with the unions since over those kinds of issues, though he and organized labor have been at odds over spending and taxes.

Kasich’s top priorities as both a House member and governor have been spending and taxes. He will point to his record in Ohio of eliminating a budget deficit, reducing unemployment and cutting taxes as evidence of how he would attempt to govern as president, though Ohio’s economy has benefited from national forces and the bailout of the automobile industry in addition to state actions.

In advance of Tuesday’s announcement, the governor’s Super PAC released two videos, the first a five-minute introduction of the prospective candidate that stresses his record on both fiscal and national security issues, and a one-minute ad that highlights his work in helping to bring about a balanced budget. As a House member, he was a key lieutenant of then-speaker Newt Gingrich in the years after Republicans took control of that chamber in the 1994 elections.

Kasich is in danger of not qualifying for the Cleveland debate, given his current standing in the polls. Advisers hope that his late announcement will give him the kind of political bounce that could boost him into the top 10 in the polls. But with Trump commanding so much attention right now, that could prove difficult.

Kasich’s longer term hope is to rise relatively quickly in New Hampshire and to be seen as a serious contender there by the early fall. He will spend the next several days in the Granite State holding town hall meetings.

His advisers believe he can connect directly with voters better than his rivals with a message that is compassionate, upbeat and with a personality that is direct, occasionally prickly and rarely reserved or hesitant.

Kasich ran for president in the 2000 cycle but never found an audience. He quit the race in the summer of 1999, one of the earliest dropouts of that campaign.
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See also The Wall Street Journal on Kasich

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