John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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I’m Leaning Towards Kasich

Posted on October 18, 2013
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I know it’s early.

But if we are going to talk Presidential candidates, I am leaning towards Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Kasich says right now that he has every intention of running for reelection and I have to take him at his word.

But if he were to change his mind, he would be my candidate.

I find it awfully hard to believe that anybody associated with Washington right now could credibly be able to win the Republican nomination.

Ted Cruz won the Values Voter summit straw poll, which is a big yawn to me.

Those are the type of people who thought Pat Robertson would have made a good President.

Cruz has damaged himself irreparably in my mind, and in the mind of most big donors (to be clear, I am not a big donor) with his shut-down shenanigans.

Hardball host Chris Matthews thinks that Rand Paul will be a nominee, and Paul has done a deft job of navigating some difficult situations. But like Jeb Bush, Rand Paul has a last name that while it may endear him to some people will hurt him with a lot more people.

Ron Paul’s battalions have attempted a hostile takeover of the Republican Party and Rand Paul is not just some innocent bystander who can pick up the pieces after the wreckage is strewn about the pavement.

Paul’s libertarianism, while cosmetically appealing (I think he is right in wanting to decriminalize some drug use), is in actuality a big departure from traditional conservative thought. I don’t think his views will stand up to the scrutiny.

Rob Portman is the only Senator I would jump on the bandwagon for, although I don’t think he is going to throw his hat in the ring.

John Kasich is the architect of the last balanced budget adopted by the Congress.

He was a courageous leader back then and he is a courageous leader now.

Better than just about any current Republican politician, Kasich understands working class voters.

No blue-blood he, Kasich’s dad was a mail carrier. Raised Catholic, he left the Church after his parents died in a car crash, and joined an evangelical church.

He understands both the Catholic sensibility and the Protestant passion.

Kasich’s common touch translates well when he formulates public policy.

He focused mostly on budget matters, but he brought the budget alive when he was Chairman.

He explained why a balanced budget would lead to economic growth and why economic growth would lead to jobs and how jobs would lead to better security and stability for America’s working class.

He spoke with passionate intensity, and he was convincing in his arguments.

As Governor, he has sided with unions that make stuff over unions that take stuff.

Because of his blue-collar roots, he understands that being uniformly antagonistic to the union movement is not good politics, especially north of the Mason-Dixon line. He appreciates that unions sometimes play a constructive role in protecting the rights of workers, although he is far less willing to negotiate with public-sector unions.

Kasich is conservative, but he is no ideologue.

He decided that the deal to expand Medicaid in his state, as part of Obamacare, was worth it.

But Kasich has also sharply reduced the size of government in Ohio, helping the state to right-size and get closer to fiscal responsibility.

Ohio is not out of the woods yet, but it has made a remarkable recovery from where it was when he initially took office.

His ratings have inched steadily higher, and Quinnipiac had him at 54% this summer.

The Washington government shut-down has probably hurt Kasich in the latest polls, as it has hurt just about every Republican around the country. But thankfully for the Ohio Governor, he kept his head down and pretty much kept out of the headlines.

Kasich remembers what happened the last time the government shut down. Republicans and the President successfully came to an agreement to balance the budget, reform welfare, pass pro-growth cuts and reform Medicare (slightly), because he was one of the principle reasons why those things happened.

It is too early to tell if President Obama, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can reach that kind of agreement, but if they want to, they should give the former Budget Chairman a call and ask his advice.

It was no accident that John Boehner invited John Kasich to be his playing partner when he played golf with the President earlier this year.

Kasich can play. And if he runs for President, I bet you he could win.