Monday, November 23, 2015

Donald Trump goes easy on John Kasich

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Donald Trump pulled his punches.

On a night when many expected him to escalate his feud with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the real estate mogul and Republican presidential front-runner went easy on his rival.

In the opening minutes of his speech at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Trump, as he often does, reveled in polls that show him leading the big GOP field.

"Your governor's only [at] 2" percent, Trump said, teasingly. "What happened?"

The crowd booed, though it was unclear whether they were jeering Trump or Kasich. Trump mispronounced Kasich's name a few more times – saying it Kay-sitch instead of Kay-sick – and brought up the poor poll numbers once again. But that was it.

Trump otherwise was his provocative self.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Why John Kasich's Judeo-Christian values push is not a surprise -- and why it's misunderstood

A little more than a year ago, long before he was a presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich told me he was eager to talk more about faith.

The Republican, who was raised Catholic and is now Anglican, wondered why a recent profile I had written on him had not included more about his spiritual journey.

Kasich also wondered how he might start a national conversation on the Judeo-Christian values that he believes are the bedrock of Western society. Though devout, Kasich isn't seen as evangelical. He did not want his message to be viewed through such a prism.

The fact that he was thinking out loud on the matter indicated that he knew he had to tread carefully. For many, the notion of a proselytizer-in-chief is an uncomfortable one.

This discussion with Kasich came flooding back to me Tuesday, when during a major national security speech the governor proposed a new agency to promote Judeo-Christian values across the globe. His call was a response to the rise of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and last week's terrorist attacks in Paris. And it quickly raised eyebrows.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lincoln Chafee and Lawrence Lessig, we hardly knew ye: Democratic presidential power rankings

It was fun while it lasted.

The will he-or-won't he suspense surrounding Vice President Joe Biden.

The half-baked speculation surrounding everyone from Al Gore to Michael Dukakis.
Jim Webb running in the wrong primary.

The inexplicable candidacy of Lincoln Chafee.

Some guy named Lawrence Lessig.

But now the Democratic race for president is down to three, and barring any surprises, it's Hillary Clinton's to lose. Bernie Sanders is on to something, though. And Martin O'Malley now has a little more room to breathe on the debate stage.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

John Kasich's last debate performance didn't play well in New Hampshire

Through all of Ohio Gov. John Kasich's struggles as a presidential candidate, his team has taken comfort in New Hampshire.

Even in early October, after the Republican's numbers dropped in the important first primary state, chief strategist John Weaver bragged about internal data that showed voters there viewed Kasich more favorably than other contenders.

But last week's debate in Milwaukee, where Kasich's unsteady performance earned him rough reviews, has hurt him in New Hampshire. That's one of the key takeaways from a new poll from WBUR 90.9, a National Public Radio Station in Boston.

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Mary Taylor's moment: Ohio lieutenant governor looks to prove skeptics wrong with big 2018 push

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oh, there you are, Mary Taylor.

And by there, I mean everywhere.

At a Cleveland luncheon for real estate executives. At a shale summit in West Virginia. At a Republican fundraiser in Idaho on behalf of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose job Taylor would assume if Kasich moves to Washington after the 2016 election.

Even on TV, where the lieutenant governor stars in a commercial for Medicare open enrollment, ostensibly in her duties as director of the state's Department of Insurance.
With these moves and others, Taylor has staked a surprisingly aggressive claim to a 2018 race for governor that is shaping up to be a battle of top GOP talent.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Feel the Bern? Bernie Sanders storms in Cleveland with a pitch for 'revolution'

CLEVELAND, Ohio – So this is what a Bernie Sanders rally is like.

An ear-splittingly-loud crowd that eggs on the Democratic presidential hopeful's barbed attacks on capitalism. Boos when he brings up the rich, cheers when he flays them.

Pandemonium when he stands up for women's rights, gay rights and legal marijuana.

And the signs. They were worthy of a ballgame, with social media hash tags like #AloeForHillary. Because, of course, it's time to #FeelTheBern.

A soothing evening of politics, this was not.

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Predicting the GOP nominee remains a challenge: Republican presidential power rankings

The last few weeks in the Republican race for president have featured two debates, a near meltdown for Jeb Bush and more antics from Donald Trump.

But predicting the nominee remains a challenge.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has replaced Bush as the establishment favorite. But does being the darling of mainstream conservatives mean anything anymore?

Ben Carson has so far survived the increased scrutiny that comes with a front-runner's status. But how many more hits can the retired neurosurgeon handle?

And Trump? Carson's emergence has cost the real estate mogul his commanding leads in key polls. But while he's no longer the front-runner, he remains firmly in the top tier.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

In wake of Paris attacks, John Kasich sees new opening for his adult-in-the-room message

John Kasich's attempts to be the adult in the room – rooted in his prescription for a balanced federal budget – have so far fallen flat in his bid for president.

Now, with worries of terrorism back at the forefront in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris, Ohio's Republican governor sees a new opening for his message.

As news of the attacks spread Friday, Kasich was in New Hampshire, the important first primary state key to his White House aspirations. At a town hall-style forum in Laconia, he led attendees in prayer. His campaign sent reporters video excerpts from the event.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nina Turner changes her mind on Hillary Clinton, endorses Bernie Sanders for president

Nina Turner, the former state senator from Cleveland and a top Ohio Democratic Party official, is ditching Hillary Clinton in favor of Bernie Sanders.

Turner and Sanders' presidential campaign confirmed the endorsement Thursday.

"I'm very attracted by his message and his style -- and that he has held pretty much strong on his beliefs and the world is catching up with him," Turner said.

Turner added that Sanders' positions on voting rights and wage issues have stood out to her. While she is expected to be active in his campaign, a Sanders spokeswoman said whatever role Turner has will not be paid.

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More: Why Turner's shift matters.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Post-debate analysis: John Kasich scored on Donald Trump, but people will remember the boos

Maybe John Kasich would have been better off at the kiddie table.

In theory, you want to be on that prime-time stage, as the Ohio governor was Tuesday night in Milwaukee for the fourth round of Republican presidential debates.

In reality, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie turned his banishment to the evening's undercard into the kind of standout performance that has eluded Kasich.

Christie shined alongside three other candidates who failed to reach his level of charisma or command. When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to sling arrows his way, Christie diplomatically ducked and bashed Democrat Hillary Clinton instead.

Kasich, meanwhile, solved a problem that had nagged him. On stage with seven of the other higher-polling hopefuls who qualified for Fox Business Network's main event, he pushed himself into the middle of the action in confident and convincing ways.

But overall the debate was a mixed bag for Kasich.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The 2016 ground game has begun in Ohio, with Republicans looking to build an early lead

Three years ago, President Barack Obama won Ohio's prized electoral votes in a tight race that both sides fought to the bitter end.

But Obama might have clinched his victory here the year before, in November 2011, when a coalition that included his field operation, organized labor and a robust network of activists won a referendum over union-busting legislation backed by Republicans.

For the institutional forces that drive Democratic turnout, it was a massive dress rehearsal, pulling in some 3,000 volunteers and collecting data that would be valuable in 2012. The GOP tried its best to catch up, but its machine was no match.

Now, one year out from the next presidential election, the picture on the ground in this hotly contested battleground state could not be more different.

Obama is term-limited, his political team scattered to the four winds. The Democratic National Committee has kept a low profile. Meanwhile the Republican National Committee boasts it already is paying more than 20 field organizers in Ohio.

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