Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Ted Strickland-P.G. Sittenfeld primary? Here are the pros and cons for Ohio Democrats

What now, P.G. Sittenfeld?

This week, as Ted Strickland jumped into the U.S. Senate race he had long been linked to, speculation shifted back to the other Democratic candidate. Many assumed that Sittenfeld, a 30-year-old city councilman from Cincinnati, would step aside once Strickland, a 73-year-old former governor, made his intentions clear.

The smart money is on that still happening -- eventually.

But a funny thing happened during the month that Sittenfeld had the field to himself. He assembled a campaign staff, attracted big-name campaign donors and, according to those close to his team, raised at least $500,000. Not bad for a newcomer. Not bad at all.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kasich's State of the State: Has fiscal conservatism replaced compassionate conservatism as his 2016 calling card?

WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich's two previous State of the State speeches were built around his push to expand Medicaid coverage and to rebrand himself as a compassionate conservative. He is confident that he won that first battle and won't have to fight it again. Absent from this year's remarks was the emphasis on "people in the shadows."

Yes, Kasich talked of helping the mentally ill, the drug-addicted and the poor, but this came toward the end of a nearly 80-minute address. It's not that Kasich believes in these values any less, but with 2016 on his mind, perhaps he's looking for a different beat.

Remember: Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and Republican establishment frontrunner of the moment, is hogging the compassionate conservative lane right now. He's talking a lot about the middle-class and poverty and helping urban centers.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

John Kasich's South Carolina strategy illustrates the challenge in his hard-to-get 2016 strategy

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Here in the home of the nation's first Southern presidential primary, Republican leaders like to brag about which possible candidates have been ringing them up for advice or flying in for grip-and-grins.

It's the type of state where, on short notice and in unusually frigid weather, top activists think nothing of driving an hour or two to get a look at a new prospect.

Even taxi drivers here soak up the politics.

While taking a fare from the airport here Wednesday, a cabbie reminisced about Herman Cain, a passing fad of the 2012 campaign, and speculated about Sarah Palin. He lit up excitedly when told Ohio's governor would be in town that evening.

"Oh, Scott Walker," he nodded.

This case of mistaken identity so perfectly sums up the challenge that John Kasich, Ohio's actual governor, faces as he weighs a White House run. Others, like Walker, who presides over Wisconsin, are doing more legwork and attracting more interest.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich straddles fence on immigration in first South Carolina appearance

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- As he began testing the presidential waters here Wednesday evening, Ohio Gov. John Kasich presented himself to a group of influential Republicans as a crusader for fiscal responsibility in Washington.

Then came the questions -- two on immigration, one on gun control.

It was an illustrative moment for Kasich as he weighs whether to run for the White House. Promoting a constitutional amendment that would require a balanced federal budget is the one reliably conservative club he has in his bag. But with his audience more interested in pinning him down on hot-button issues, Kasich retreated to the middle and railed against the "pontificating and playing to extremes" in both parties.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

John Kasich's presidential ambitions: How the Ohio governor got from 'not interested' to maybe

It was 16 years ago Sunday that John Kasich kicked off his first campaign for president. Then a feisty congressman known for wielding a sharp budget ax while rocking to Pearl Jam, he mugged for the cameras with a Richard Nixon victory salute as he boarded his plane from Columbus to New Hampshire.
But Kasich never achieved full liftoff. Unable to raise money or rise in the polls, he dropped from the Republican field months before the first primaries.

Still a feisty but now somewhat mellowed governor, Kasich again is wrestling with White House ambitions. And though he is better established than he was in 1999, Kasich is far behind when it comes to building the organization presidential bids require.

That's because, until recently, Kasich publicly dismissed any talk about running for president in 2016. Even behind closed doors, in the company of advisers, he showed minimal interest, according to sources familiar with the governor's thinking.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

John Kasich getting advice from Ed Gillespie, John E. Sununu and others as he ponders 2016

Gov. John Kasich's presidential deliberations are accelerating, as evidenced not only by an upcoming trip to South Carolina announced this week but also by the prominent Republican advisers entering his political orbit.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, met recently with Team Kasich, according to GOP sources in Columbus plugged into Kasich's network.

One Republican said a separate dinner meeting included former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, the first primary state. Richard Allen, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who served as national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan, also attended the dinner, the source told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

The sources, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss Kasich's plans publicly, described the meetings as advice sessions meant to prepare the governor should he launch a White House bid.

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