Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Donald Trump, John Kasich and a year of Ohio political surprises: 2016 takeaways

Say this about 2016: It was full of political surprises. None bigger, of course, than the election of reality television star Donald Trump as president.

I was wrong -- a lot -- about Trump's improbable candidacy. And like many others, I underestimated his chances against the far more politically seasoned Hillary Clinton.

As the year ends, here are five other stories I didn't see coming. Most trace their roots, even if in a roundabout way, to Trump. Each made 2016 an exciting year to cover politics in Ohio.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Keith Faber farewell tour

The Keith Faber farewell tour is the talk of Columbus.

The lame-duck Ohio Senate president has ruffled feathers in his final days. Even allies -- from Gov. John Kasich to fellow lawmakers and lobbyists -- have their grievances.

To be fair, Faber's controversial initiatives met with wide approval in his caucus. Most of the grumbling, as is common for Statehouse intrigue, is vented not in votes or showy floor speeches but, rather, in idle chitchat, text messages and not-for-attribution telephone calls.

But in many ways Faber is not a typical lame duck. Term-limited in the Senate, the Celina Republican will resurface next month in the Ohio House and immediately begin angling for higher office. Critics believe Faber's recent behavior is all about setting up his political future -- be it a run for state auditor or a federal appointment by President-elect Donald Trump.

A few things to keep in mind as one Faber reign ends and another possibly begins ...

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Can John Kasich and Donald Trump forge a truce? The future of the Ohio GOP rides on that question.

The case against Matt Borges boils down to a few perceptions.
  • Critics believe the Ohio Republican Party chairman undermined President-elect Donald Trump.
  • They believe that between Borges and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who unlike Borges refused to vote for Trump, someone has to go. (And they know it can't be Kasich, who has two years left on his term.)
  • In other words, they believe that keeping Borges around as Kasich's handpicked party boss would hurt the state's political clout in a Trump administration.
It's this last part that has allies of Borges and Kasich most concerned as a civil war breaks out among top party activists. They fear Borges is in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Jane Timken, an influential Republican from the Canton area who helped raise money for Trump's campaign, has launched a bid to dump Borges at a Jan. 6 meeting of the Ohio GOP's 66-member Central Committee. At the moment, Borges backers say he has more than the 34 votes needed to prevail. But Timken's challenge is enough of a disruption to have them discussing the best ways to shatter the perceptions that have him on a very hot seat.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Jane Timken launches bid to unseat Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges

Jane Timken, an influential Canton Republican who helped raise money for President-elect Donald Trump, is angling to unseat Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges, whose lukewarm support of Trump's winning campaign upset some party activists this year.

Timken has been working the phones for several days, according to several Republican sources. She made her intentions clear in a letter sent Sunday to members of the GOP State Central Committee, a 66-member body that will determine Borges' fate next month.

"In fairness to Chairman Borges, this was a difficult year to be Chairman," Timken wrote. "In a Presidential election year, there are many competing obligations that must be balanced. I supported Governor [John] Kasich's two campaigns for Governor and his campaign for President. For many Ohioans, his loss was heartbreaking. Once the nomination was settled, Chairman Borges had the obligation to fully support the nominee and his campaign. He did not, and his actions have divided the state party leadership. This was his choice."

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Friday, December 2, 2016

'Hillbilly Elegy' author J.D. Vance talks about the Donald Trump wave and his new Ohio project

Almost by accident, J.D. Vance became the truest pundit of 2016, the year when just about everyone else had Donald Trump all wrong.

Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis" tells the story of his tough -- and often traumatic -- childhood in Middletown, Ohio, and Jackson, Kentucky.

The New York Times bestseller also supplies something that was missing from the media's coverage of Trump: An empathetic and thoughtful look at the white working-class communities that helped carry the Republican populist to the White House.

And now Vance, 32, is returning to Ohio to head a nonprofit organization that will seek solutions to the challenges facing the working-class. He has enlisted public affairs strategist Jai Chabria, the former top adviser to Gov. John Kasich, to help. The effort could be off the ground by the new year, though during an interview in Cleveland this week, Vance fussed over a tiny detail.

Read the full Q&A

Thursday, November 17, 2016

5 thoughts as Tim Ryan takes on Nancy Pelosi

With Democrats down in the dumps in Ohio and beyond, there's a lot to unpack in U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan's bid to unseat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Let's start with the element of surprise ...

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

A big reason why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Ohio: He ran up the score in Appalachia

With Rich Exner

Slowly but surely, Democrats had been losing their foothold in eastern and southern Ohio. On Tuesday, Donald Trump delivered the knockout blow.

Trump, now president-elect, ran at least 10 percentage points better than 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 42 counties, most of them situated in that Appalachia-encompassing region, according to a analysis of unofficial election results.

All told, Trump outperformed Romney, who lost the Buckeye State to President Barack Obama by 3 points, in all but five of 88 counties. But data suggest Trump owes his statewide win over Hillary Clinton - 8.5 points - to huge gains in these rural and blue collar areas.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump's victory spoiled Kasich's plans. So what's next for the Ohio governor?

As Election Day turned to Election Night, two of Ohio's top Republicans sat on big plans largely contingent upon Donald Trump going down in flames.

Gov. John Kasich, who fell short in his own bid for the GOP presidential nomination, was preparing a Thursday speech in Washington, where he would outline a Trump-free vision for his party and country. It would be an early first step toward another run in 2020.

Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party chief and a Kasich ally, was angling to be the next Republican National Committee chairman. He would build his case on his success in a key battleground and on his ability to navigate messy political circumstances. But for this to work, Trump probably had to win Ohio and lose the Electoral College to Hillary Clinton.

Trump took care of the first by blowing out Clinton here. No one could say that Kasich, who refused to campaign or vote for Trump, or that Borges, who clashed with Trump's team and was viewed suspiciously by some because of his loyalty to the governor, cost Trump a crucial state.

But Trump's unanticipated national victory crushed their plans.

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Donald Trump pulls off an upset for the ages -- and brings Republicans another identity crisis

Donald Trump realigned the country the same way he realigned the Republican Party - with an improbable takeover that many political professionals saw as hostile, but one Middle America embraced as a chance to swing a sledgehammer at the status quo.

In a year full of surprises, Trump, a wealthy New York real estate mogul who once had his own reality television show, won the White House by romping through the Rust Belt.

His pitch, tailored to disillusioned blue-collar workers, helped him win battleground Ohio comfortably and, according to calls by the Associated Press, put Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the GOP column for the first time since the 1980s.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Battleground Ohio gets a quiet Saturday as Clinton and Trump enter home stretch

There was something strange about the campaign trail Saturday in Ohio.

It was empty.

Three days before an election that will determine the next president of the United States, there was no trace of Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump or their running mates.

As of Saturday evening, only Clinton had scheduled a Sunday event in the state. And it was unknown if or when Trump, who held a rally Friday in Wilmington, would return.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

John Kasich follows through on vow not to vote for Donald Trump, writes in John McCain instead

Gov. John Kasich, who had vowed not to vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, voted Monday by absentee ballot.

His choice? Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Chris Schrimpf, the governor's political spokesman, confirmed the write-in vote to and said Kasich voted straight-ticket Republican on the rest of his ballot. Schrimpf added that Kasich was comfortable picking McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for president, over Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Libertarian Gary Johnson, a former Republican on the ballot as a nonpartisan candidate.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Meet the Ohio politicians who prepared us for Donald Trump

We often say we haven't seen a candidate like Donald Trump.

But in Ohio, we have.

There was the bombastic populist with crazy hair. The orange-hued millionaire whose attempts to connect with black voters struck many as condescending. An anti-establishment favorite who characterized the media as "completely biased" for reporting on his many mistruths.

None of these pols is a perfect facsimile for Trump, the New York businessman-turned reality TV star-turned Republican nominee for president. (And none, we should stress, has offered the safe space Trump provides for bigots, misogynists and racists to revel in their hatred.)

Their candidacies are nevertheless instructive and show us why we shouldn't be so surprised by certain elements of Trump's rise. So let's reacquaint ourselves with these Trump precursors.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Donald Trump just dumped Ohio GOP chief Matt Borges

Donald Trump's candidacy of bizarre political theater persisted Saturday when, 24 days before Election Day, the presidential hopeful cut ties with Matt Borges, chairman of the Republican Party in the potentially must-win battleground of Ohio.

Does Trump have a legitimate beef with Borges?

The crux, spelled out by Ohio campaign director Bob Paduchik in a letter to members of the state GOP's central committee, is that Borges has been candid about his disappointment in Trump.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Here's how President Obama's Ohio return can help Hillary Clinton and Ted Strickland

COLUMBUS, Ohio - President Barack Obama is back on familiar political ground.

His speech here Thursday at an Ohio Democratic Party fundraising dinner kicked off two days of politicking in an important swing state that he carried in both of his White House bids.

For Obama, this is part farewell tour, part passing-of-the-torch to Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state and would-be-successor. The outgoing commander-in-chief will conclude his trip Friday in Cleveland, with a Clinton campaign rally at Burke Lakefront Airport.

Obama's visit stands out at this point in the election season calendar because ...

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Trump whisperer? Inside Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges' phone calls with The Donald

Matt Borges has become something of a Donald Trump whisperer.

When the Ohio Republican Party chairman calls, the GOP nominee for president listens.

Trump toned down his attacks on John Kasich, who challenged him in the primaries, after Borges told him it would be political suicide to pick on Ohio's popular governor. And when Borges believes the New York businessman has gone too far, he doesn't mince words.

The two speak frequently by telephone and when Trump campaigns in the Buckeye State. But the contact has intensified in recent days, as Trump's campaign reels from the damaging revelation of a 2005 video that featured him making lewd comments about women.

Borges had just hung up with Trump when reached the chairman by telephone Wednesday morning. He shared details of their three discussions since Sunday.

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11 times I was wrong about Donald Trump

Donald Trump is going down in a blaze of desperation.

His antics before, during and after his second debate with Hillary Clinton tell us that. His tweets lashing out at fellow Republicans for abandoning his sinking ship tell us that.

When you analyze politics on a daily basis, as I do for, nothing informs your writing better than a candidate's behavior. Is "blaze of desperation" a tad dramatic? Perhaps. But that's the phrase I settled on Sunday. And I'm standing by it with relative confidence.

But, full disclosure, here's one more thing you should know: We, the media, have been wrong about Trump this election cycle. A lot. He has defied so much for so long to get to where he is that it is tempting for his true believers to believe he will prove us all wrong again.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Desperation, thy name is Donald Trump

Donald Trump's path to the White House has narrowed. The Republican Party that nominated him for president is in crisis mode. Perhaps the only suspense that remains in the final month of this race is whether Trump will face this adversity with any dignity.

Spoiler alert: The Trump who showed up Sunday in St. Louis for his second debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton seems determined to go down in a blaze of desperation.

The New York businessman is grasping for anything that might stop the bleeding from a series of self-inflicted wounds dating to their first face-off nearly two weeks ago. The deepest cut came Friday, with the emergence of a 2005 video that featured Trump speaking of women in sexually explicit terms and characterizing them as objects to be manhandled with impunity.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail in Ohio. Is she too late or just in time?

AKRON, Ohio - Eight days ago, Ohio seemed like the last place Hillary Clinton wanted to be.

The Democratic presidential nominee hadn't visited in nearly a month. Her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, had pulled ahead of her in the polls here. And despite the Buckeye State's battleground status, other electoral targets looked more promising for her.

Clinton finally returned Monday. It's too soon to tell if she was too late or just in time.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Newt Gingrich's week of Donald Trump damage control continues at Baldwin Wallace

Newt Gingrich was a finalist to be Donald Trump's running mate. Now he is a has-been, holding on for a few last breaths of relevancy. And if that means he has to side with Trump in a sexist attack on a beauty pageant winner who struggled with her weight or allude to Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, well, the portly and twice-divorced Gingrich is more than happy to play his part.

Gingrich's appearance here Thursday followed a dubious double-duty on Trump's behalf.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Round 1 goes to Hillary Clinton

With polls nationally and in battleground states showing the race for president a dead heat, Monday night's debate - the first between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump - was the biggest test yet in a blockbuster election year.

For the tens of millions of Americans watching the faceoff, televised live from Hofstra University, this was a chance, finally, to evaluate the candidates side-by-side.

Clinton came into the debate with sky-high expectations, raised by her decades in public service and by Trump's inexperience. But that lack of political seasoning has served Trump well with voters drawn to an outsider, and many of his loyal fans might not be swayed by a showing in which he clearly was out of his depth.

Even so, Clinton scored more points than Trump did.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Cuyahoga County poll, but both are behind 2012 benchmarks

Hillary Clinton has a predictably comfortable lead in Cuyahoga County, according to new polling by Baldwin Wallace University and

But she is performing beneath benchmarks Barack Obama set in a region that has been a firewall for Democratic presidential hopefuls looking to win Ohio and its prized 18 electoral votes.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is playing worse here than any Republican contender since at least 1960. And many remain undecided or unsatisfied with the two major-party candidates.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Reince Priebus makes a mess in Ohio

Reince Priebus has an Ohio problem.

Let us count the ways.
  • Priebus then presided over a Cleveland convention that left Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges and other Buckeye State delegates feeling slighted by pettiness.
  • Meanwhile, the RNC has no communications director here - an unusual deficiency given Ohio's battleground status. The first person who had the job left, in part, because he could not stomach supporting Trump's brand of bigotry. The second person who had the job bolted after two weeks and a big fight with Trump's state director. No one is beating down the door to be the third.
  • And now Priebus is picking at the scab. During a TV appearance Sunday, he warned that Kasich's refusal to endorse Trump could trigger party penalties if Kasich runs for president again. That drew outrage from Borges and from Kasich's political strategist, John Weaver.
Read the full story

Monday, September 12, 2016

Donald Trump fans have been sending me racist, hateful messages for months. Here's a sampling.

For 15 years, my ethnic last name has appeared above all of my stories. Which means, for 15 years, some readers have judged me only by that ethnic last name.

I have heard their voice mails and read their emails. Smirked at their keyboard courage in the comments section. Told myself not to take the Twitter mentions too personally.

Call it bigotry. Call it racism. Call it xenophobia. As a writer – especially one who covers national politics – you chalk it up as coming with the territory, as hurtful and as menacing as it can be. This year, though, it is coming far more frequently. There is no mystery why.

Maybe you don't believe Donald Trump is a bigot. Or a racist. Or a xenophobe. But the Republican nominee for president certainly has won the support of people who are.

Read the full essay

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump kick off their fall campaigns in Cleveland

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump began their final sprints toward November similarly Monday, touching down here for some swing state stumping.

Labor Day, the first mile-marker of the fall campaign, saw Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, rallying with fellow Democrats at Cleveland's Luke Easter Park. Meanwhile, Trump and his No. 2, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, met with a smattering of union leaders in nearby Brook Park before darting to a fair in a Youngstown suburb.

At one point, the planes for all four sat on the tarmac of Hopkins International Airport. And Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned downstate in Cincinnati.

"This is the home stretch," Kaine said in Cleveland. "We have to come to Ohio. You all know this. You're used to this. You're used to the fact that you're one of the two or three most important states in any presidential election going back since there were presidential elections."

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

How John Kasich's snub of Donald Trump could help Rob Portman win re-election

It's early, but Ohio's big U.S. Senate race seems just about over.

Republican incumbent Rob Portman is running a very smart re-election campaign. He has kept Donald Trump, his party's erratic nominee for president, at arm's length.

He and his allies have spent their money wisely. (To the point where national Democrats appear to be giving up and the pro-Portman Koch brothers are easing off the gas, too.)

Meanwhile, Ted Strickland is running a surprisingly poor campaign.
Democrats thought the former governor's name-recognition would be an asset in a competitive contest. But Strickland is eating Portman's dust, at least according to several recent polls.

There's a third person who deserves mention: John Kasich.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Rob Frost warms to Donald Trump

Donald Trump won the Cuyahoga County Republican Party's endorsement over the weekend. On the surface, this is dog-bites-man news -- to be expected, given that the New York businessman is the Republican nominee for president.

But let us use the moment to reflect on Rob Frost, the local party's chairman.

Like many other GOP leaders across the country, Frost took to heart the lessons of Mitt Romney's loss four years ago to President Barack Obama. He had a particularly useful vantage point. Being the top Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic county can be a lonely job. Romney, for example, didn't collect a single vote in nine Cleveland precincts.

When the Republican National Committee chose Cleveland to host its convention this summer, it was a recognition that the party had to establish a foothold in America's large urban centers. In the meantime, Frost did his part, by cultivating relationships with the black community.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton finds herself on the defensive as Donald Trump seizes on foundation fallout

At times Hillary Clinton seems on the verge of victory.

The Democratic presidential nominee has skated ahead in most polls since her unifying convention in Philadelphia. Republican Donald Trump, meanwhile, can't quite escape the hole he dug for himself at his dark and divisive show a week earlier in Cleveland.

Clinton has more traction in swing states, including Ohio. Trump is wasting time in GOP gimmes Mississippi and Texas when he should be worried about Georgia and North Carolina.
Trump also continues to raise eyebrows with overheated rhetoric and borderline racist comments. The real estate mogul ordered another shake-up of his campaign's high command. By all measures, the race for the White House headed toward disaster for Republicans.

But it's only Aug. 25. Even if Trump can't totally recover from all of his self-inflicted wounds, he at least will have a few good days over the 75 between now and Election Day.

He is having some this week, amid a heavier mix of partisan scrutiny and aggressive reporting on the Clinton Foundation, which continued its charitable work abroad during Clinton's tenure as the United States' top diplomat. Stories have focused on how many foreign governments gave to the organization and donors who sought access to Clinton while she was secretary of state.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Donald Trump meets his Etch a Sketch moment

Say hello to the new, nuanced Donald Trump.

In recent weeks, the Republican nominee for president has made a hash out of his hard-line positions on immigration – the signature issue of his White House campaign.

Trump launched his bid by characterizing most Mexican immigrants as violent criminals and pledging to build a border wall at the Mexican government's expense. He pressed on by calling for mass deportations, overseen by an ominous-sounding "deportation force." He also proposed an immediate, all-encompassing ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States.

But the New York real estate mogul seems to be softening his stance on deportations. And he has revised the Muslim ban in favor of a more-targeted – though equally-hard-to-enforce policy – that would restrict travel by those from regions known for fostering terrorist activity.

For Trump, an unpredictable candidate who plays by his own rules, these shifts are stunning. Perhaps the shifts also signify a belated recognition that what helped him steamroll through the primaries will not help him win a general election. Mitt Romney would be proud.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Who will be Ohio's next governor?

The Buckeye State is once again a prime battleground in a presidential election and home to one of the nation’s most competitive Senate contests.

But much of the chatter among political insiders these last few weeks has focused on Ohio’s 2018 race for governor. And both parties are in a bind, but for different reasons.

Gov. John Kasich is not eligible for another term, and at least four prominent fellow Republicans are sending signals that they would like to succeed him. Glass half-full, it’s an embarrassment of riches. 

Glass half-empty, it’s an ugly free-for-all that will drain the GOP donor pool, bruise the eventual nominee, and leave the losers limping toward an uncertain future.

At least the Republicans have options. Democrats haven’t quite recovered from their Ed FitzGerald shipwreck of 2014. Best-case scenario, a charismatic congressman gives up a safe seat and runs. Worst-case scenario, they end up with a lower-tier retread or rookie.

So, without further ado, let’s handicap the already crackling race for governor.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Does Jim Renacci want to run for Ohio governor?

Jim Renacci wants another term in the U.S. House this fall, but someone already is assessing whether he would be a strong candidate for Ohio governor in 2018.

A pollster – armed with favorable facts about the Wadsworth Republican – recently dialed Buckeye State voters, according to two GOP sources who were surveyed by telephone.

The poll's questions were phrased in ways that emphasized Renacci's background as a businessman and volunteer firefighter while downplaying his six years in Congress, the sources said. Though the poll did not specify which higher office Renacci might be interested in, he was tested alongside Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor – three leading Republicans who are openly weighing gubernatorial bids.

The call characterized DeWine, Husted and Taylor as "Columbus insiders," the sources said.
Of this foursome, Renacci is the least known and the longest shot. The other three already are better organized for a 2018 run and would start with statewide name-recognition that Renacci lacks. And DeWine recently tapped Dave Luketic, a veteran of Gov. John Kasich's political operation, to lead his preparations. Term limits prevent Kasich from seeking re-election.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Assessing the semantics and substance of Donald Trump's foreign policy point-of-view

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Donald Trump used his best campfire voice.

In a Monday speech designed to outline his foreign policy proposals, the Republican presidential nominee whispered grave warnings, vague prescriptions and even a few tall tales.

At times, it was as if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 never happened.

In his introductory remarks, Rudy Giuliani – who was mayor of New York City on 9/11 – said there were no "successful radical Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States" in the eight years before President Barack Obama took office. Those eight years, of course, included 9/11.

And when Trump stepped to the microphone here at Youngstown State University, he painted a picture of a world that was largely peaceful until Obama entered the White House with Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, as his secretary of state.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Donald Trump's latest relapse is a call to action -- or arms?

So much for that big Donald Trump reset.

The New York businessman was on his best behavior Monday during a big speech on the economy in Detroit, and for a while there he looked like a normal candidate for president.

The Republican nominee's goal? Move past a damaging stretch in which he escalated a public feud with the Muslim parents of a fallen U.S. Army captain and spitefully – though temporarily – withheld endorsements from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP all-stars.

It took 24 hours to remember that, for Trump, there is no normal.

Trump's latest controversy is a biggie. Speaking at a rally Tuesday in Wilmington, N.C., he sounded alarm bells to gun rights advocates worried that a Hillary Clinton presidency would result in liberal Supreme Court justices and a threat to the Second Amendment.

"If [Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," Trump told his audience. "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is – I don't know."

Read the full story

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nina Turner turns down Jill Stein's VP offer

Nina Turner will remain a Democrat.

The former Ohio state senator from Cleveland said Monday evening that she has rejected an offer to run for vice president this fall on the Green Party's ticket.

Turner had been among the most prominent supporters of Bernie Sanders' unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Jill Stein, the Green Party's presumptive nominee for president, asked Turner over the weekend about joining her campaign, which is aiming to attract Sanders' supporters.

"I'm going to keep fighting in the party, even though I'm disappointed," Turner said in a telephone interview. "I'm a Democrat, and that's worth fighting for."

Turner upset Democrats at their national convention last week by publicly showing that disappointment, even after Sanders fell in line graciously behind one-time rival Hillary Clinton. She said she had been scheduled to deliver one of the speeches placing Sanders' name in nomination but was dumped at the last minute.

Read the full story

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nina Turner weighing offer to join Green Party ticket as VP candidate

Nina Turner, the Democratic former state senator from Cleveland who has emerged as a rallying figure for Bernie Sanders' disappointed supporters, said she is considering an offer to run for vice president on the Green Party's national ticket.

Massachusetts physician Jill Stein, the party's presumptive presidential nominee, reached out with the pitch, Turner told Sunday evening in a telephone interview.

The Green Party opens its convention Thursday in Houston. Turner would stand for nomination there if she agrees to be Stein's running mate. Her decision is expected in the coming days.

Turner is less than a year removed for a top position at the Ohio Democratic Party, which she left last fall after joining Sanders' Democratic presidential bid as a high-profile surrogate. The move caused a stir. Turner initially had favored Hillary Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, helped Turner raise money for her unsuccessful Ohio secretary of state run in 2014.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Brace yourself for a brutal battle between Clinton and Trump

PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton made history this week as the first woman to win a major party's nomination for president. But with the feel-good moment of her Democratic National Convention now in the books, brace yourself for a brutal general election campaign.

Clinton and her A-list surrogates offered a message of optimism and inclusion.

Advancing it will require a persistent shredding of the case Republican nominee Donald Trump pressed at his convention in Cleveland. The New York businessman pushed a nationalist agenda and spoke of the country as a village of the damned unless voters hire him this fall.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

For Ohio Democrats, the 2018 gubernatorial race is in a holding pattern

PHILADELPHIA – There's something missing in all the 2018 talk taking place here this week as Ohio Democrats huddle over breakfasts, beers and Bloody Marys.

A candidate for governor.

Connie Pillich is "pressing a lot of flesh," as one county chairman put it. But many wonder if the former state representative, who lost a race for state treasurer in 2014, is their best option.

Betty Sutton is milling around, too. But the former congresswoman's federal job running the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. makes active campaigning a no-no. Whatever she might have cooking – if she has anything cooking at all – was kept on a low flame.

"I am here in my personal capacity to support these Democrats," Sutton said rigidly and repeatedly in response to questions about her interest in the gubernatorial race.

Joe Schiavoni, the party's leader in the Ohio Senate, all too eagerly confirms he is thinking about a bid. But he arrived late in the week and seems happy just having his name in the mix. It's a trait he may have acquired from his fellow Mahoning Valley pol, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

Ryan has a reputation as a political tease. Every other year he might be running for governor or senator, but he always sticks with his forever-safe House seat. He could clear the field and make many Democrats happy if he declared his candidacy. But in true Ryan fashion, the scuttlebutt surrounding him this week was that he already has ruled out a run and instead might be in line for a Cabinet appointment if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency this fall.

Then there is Richard Cordray. Many Democrats believe the field will remain murky until the former Ohio attorney general decides what to do. But Cordray, like Sutton, runs a federal agency that precludes him from politics. He was nowhere to be found in Philadelphia.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bernie Sanders backer Nina Turner says she was dumped from DNC speaking assignment

PHILADELPHIA -- Nina Turner, the former state senator from Ohio who emerged as one of Bernie Sanders' most passionate champions, planned to deliver a speech nominating Sanders for president at the Democratic National Convention.

But Turner, in a telephone interview Wednesday with, said that when she arrived here Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, she was barred from going backstage. Instead, she was sent to speak with Sanders' staff.

"They would not allow it," Turner said.

Turner would not elaborate on who made the decision. A Sanders representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did spokesmen for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.

Read the full story

Monday, July 25, 2016

How not to kick off a convention, Part II: Democrats and the Debbie Wasserman Schultz drama

PHILADELPHIA -- Republicans opened their convention a week ago in Cleveland on a discordant note – highlighted by a feud between presidential nominee Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich – that continued all week and had the other side oozing confidence.

Democrats, who began their convention here today, had everything going for them.
A Bernie Sanders endorsement. A rock-star lineup of speakers that includes the sitting president, a former president and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the party's most electrifying progressive voice. The kind of clear and present unity that had eluded the GOP.

But if last week brought the textbook lesson in how not to kick off a political convention, Democrats have now provided a worthy follow-up.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

From Donald Trump to David Duke, RNC week rewrites Reince Priebus' 'open door' policy

When Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says that his is the "party of the open door," presumably he's not welcoming David Duke.

But as they rallied around Donald Trump's nationalist campaign for president at their convention this week, Priebus and the Republicans cracked that door open for the white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader. And on Friday, Duke waltzed right through it.

"I'm overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I have championed for years," Duke, who emphasizes the rights of European-Americans, said in a video declaring his candidacy for a Senate seat in Louisiana. "My slogan remains 'America first.'"

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

How RNC week took an awkward turn for Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges

This has been a rough week for Matt Borges.

While playing host to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the Ohio GOP chairman also found himself stuck in the middle of more Donald Trump drama.

Borges was furious Monday when top Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort repeatedly hammered Ohio Gov. John Kasich over his refusal to endorse Trump. He grew angrier when Trump's convention programmers snubbed Jo Ann Davidson, the state's Republican national committeewoman, by excluding her from a tribute to two late Ohio GOP icons.

Meanwhile, Trump escalated the feud with Kasich. And Kasich plowed ahead with a schedule of non-convention activities designed to promote his brand at Trump's expense.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ted Cruz gets booed, but he also gets the better of Donald Trump

Ted Cruz got booed off the stage Wednesday night.

Think about that for a second. This Republican National Convention has no bigger goal than to heal a fractured party so that it can soldier on in unity around Donald Trump.

Cruz, the Texas senator who emerged as Trump's strongest rival in the primaries, was a key part of that. And inexplicably, Trump, the New York businessman who prides himself on making shrewd deals, gave Cruz a prime time speaking slot without the promise of an endorsement.

Even more puzzling: The Trump campaign knew ahead of time that Cruz would urge his fellow Republicans to vote their conscience – a text of his remarks was shared with reporters beforehand – and somehow failed to realize what a disaster that would be.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Donald Trump shows how not to kick off a convention

Here is how not to open your Republican National Convention if you are a presidential hopeful who desperately needs a unifying moment this week.

You don't insult the popular host governor, the Ohio delegates pledged to him, or the many other voters who have given him robust job-approval ratings in a must-win battleground state.

But that is precisely what Donald Trump did.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

5 things I'm looking for at the Republican National Convention

What a week it will be for Cleveland – and the Republican Party.

The GOP will soon become the party of Donald Trump, an unorthodox and unpredictable candidate known for his racially charged rhetoric and in-your-face showmanship.

It's an existential crisis for what once was the party of Lincoln, Reagan and the George Bushes. And it will loom large over everything that happens in and outside of The Q.

Here are five things I'll be looking for at the Republican National Convention.

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The risks and rewards of Mike Pence as Donald Trump's vice president

One of the great mysteries of Donald Trump's always-unpredictable campaign has been solved. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will run as his vice president.

Brilliant move? Risky move?

It didn't help that Trump engineered such a clumsy roll out for Pence. He seemed to allow his new running mate to twist in the wind for nearly 24 hours after word first leaked that the decision had been made.

There will be a lot to chew on between now and Wednesday, when Pence is scheduled to deliver his Republican National Convention acceptance speech at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.
Let's assess the pick with these five quick takeaways
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Monday, July 11, 2016

Donald Trump leads the Republican Party down a troubling, fateful path to Cleveland: Analysis

Cleveland was supposed to represent a new frontier for Republicans.

Instead, it might well be where the party goes to die.

The GOP convention opens here in one week, poised to nominate Donald Trump for president. But so much of what the New York real estate mogul says and does is objectionable.

He indulges and inflames the worst impulses of an angry electorate. He speaks of Mexicans with condescension and contempt. He seems determined to find a way to block every Muslim from entering the country. He defends his team's use of anti-Semitic imagery.

He has mocked Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran who claimed this same party's nomination eight years ago, for being captured during combat. He has praised Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi despot, for killing some fellow terrorists among his many victims.

Then there was the time Trump suggested a black protester deserved the beating he received from white supporters at a campaign rally. That moment came to mind Friday. Responding to two fatal police shootings of black men and a deadly attack on police officers in Dallas, Trump released a statement lamenting that racial tensions "have gotten worse, not better."

Of course they have. Thanks in part to Donald Trump.

None of this has mattered, though. More than 13 million rank-and-file primary voters backed Trump, picking him out of a crowded lineup composed largely of career politicians. Now, the Republicans in the best position to lead seem more comfortable following the herd.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Dump Donald Trump movement faces a do-or-die moment next week in Cleveland

GOP drama will start a week early.

The Republican National Convention won't kick off at Quicken Loans Arena until July 18. But efforts to derail Donald Trump's coronation will rise or fall on a series of lower-profile meetings scheduled to begin Monday and run through the week in downtown Cleveland.

Although the chances Trump will leave here without his party's presidential nomination appear slim, these sessions will indicate how much of a nationally televised embarrassment the New York businessman's opponents can create for him on the convention floor.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Reliving Cleveland's championship week

Now that was a party.

One night of celebrating just wouldn't do. A parade wouldn't be enough. The Cavaliers' NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors brought Cleveland its first major sports championship in 52 years.

The joy and the revelry lasted well into the week. Really, who could blame us?

We were making up for lost time. For all those seasons our teams fell short.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton is off to a faster start than Donald Trump is in Ohio -- and it isn't even close

When Hillary Clinton speaks Tuesday in Columbus, she will continue what has been a remarkably traditional beginning to her general election campaign.

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president is sticking with a battleground map that served President Barack Obama well. She and her allies have unleashed a blitz of early television ads aimed at shoring up their base. And Ohio, as always, is right in the thick of things.

Are there risks in playing it so safe in a year in which Donald Trump – the Republican poised to claim his party's nomination next month in Cleveland – thrives on chaos? Of course there are.

But Trump's strategy relies on successfully navigating one of two increasingly improbable paths.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

In Cleveland, Hillary Clinton takes on terror and Donald Trump -- but only mentions one by name

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Hillary Clinton didn't mention Donald Trump. She didn't have to.

In responding Monday to a deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president drew countless contrasts with her Republican rival.

"Our open, diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability," Clinton, the former secretary of state, said during a speech here at Team Wendy, a manufacturer that develops military helmets and other products that protect against impact-related injuries.

"It makes us stronger and more resistant to radicalization," Clinton added. "America is strongest when we all believe they have a stake in our country and our future. This vision has sustained us from the beginning – the belief that yes, we are all created equal and the journey we have made to turn that into reality over our history. That we are not a land of winners and losers."

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The next Republican National Committee chairman? Here's the book on Matt Borges.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – This would be a comeback story even without the cliffhanger.

A dozen years ago, Matt Borges was, in his own words, radioactive. Political scandal had sidetracked his promising future as Ohio's next top Republican operative.

For a while he toiled in jobs beneath him. Turned down promotions. Worried that a higher profile might trigger stories about his past and embarrass his employers.

Slowly, Borges clawed his way back. Guided a little-known county prosecutor to statewide office.
Found a home in the governor's inner circle. But still couldn't shake the comma and the clause that always followed his name. He was Matt Borges, who was convicted in a pay-to-play case stemming from his work as the top adviser to a former state treasurer.

The 2016 election is helping Borges, now the Ohio GOP chairman, bury his baggage.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

As John Kasich reflects on presidential bid, he worries about Donald Trump and a nation of victims

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's been three weeks since Gov. John Kasich ended his presidential bid as the last man standing against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But hearing him talk Tuesday, there was a sense of unfinished business.

Kasich seemed more eager than ever to draw contrasts with Trump, whom he acknowledged he may never endorse. He repeatedly described the New York businessman as a candidate who encourages voters to see themselves as victims but offers no tangible solutions.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Next up for John Kasich: Deciding how to deal with Donald Trump

The next decision of Gov. John Kasich's political career might be his biggest yet – bigger than anything involved in his recently suspended presidential campaign.

How will he deal with Donald Trump?

It's a choice filled with risks for Kasich, who framed his White House bid around a decidedly non-Trumpian theme: "I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land."

Kasich is taking his time. Since exiting the Republican race a week ago – a move that left the unpredictable Trump as the presumptive nominee – he has kept out of the public eye. He knows that whenever he resurfaces, the first question is bound to be about Trump.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

A Q&A with John Weaver, chief strategist behind the John Kasich presidential campaign

In his now-defunct presidential bid, Gov. John Kasich relied mostly on longtime trusted allies and aides who have served by his side in Ohio.

John Weaver, who came aboard as chief strategist in the weeks before the July 2015 launch, was a rare outsider. The Texan, who has worked for John McCain and Jon Huntsman, also was the only one on the team who had experience running a White House campaign.

Less than 48 hours after Kasich dropped out of the Republican race, Weaver reflected on the effort in a telephone interview with He talked about the controversial deal he cut with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's team, about his concerns about presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, and about what he sees in Kasich's future. (Hint: It's not vice president.)

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

John Kasich set out to build a new Republican Party; Donald Trump beat him to it

Many months ago in New Hampshire, back when the best days of his presidential campaign were still ahead of him, John Kasich cracked one of his famous dad jokes.

"Why didn't the skeleton go to the party?" he asked. "Because he had no body to go with."

As we exhume the Ohio governor's White House bid, this is as good a place as any to begin. It perfectly encapsulates the goofy, fatherly personality Kasich brought to the Republican field. And it delivers the punchline he held on so long and hard to avoid becoming.

Kasich went to the party. Few joined him. Then he never wanted to leave.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Postcards from the Indiana primary

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- Republicans here aren't used to all of this attention.

Few can remember the last time their presidential primary carried such high stakes. But this year, Hoosiers might have the decisive role in picking the GOP standard-bearer.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Is this the last stand for Ted Cruz?

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – This sure feels like the last stand for Ted Cruz.

The polls – all but one of them, anyway – say so.

Most political analysts, knowing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump needs fewer than 250 delegates to clinch the nomination before the July convention, believe so.

And Cruz probably knows so. But in an unpredictable race where goalposts shift constantly, the Texas senator is being careful not to overtly acknowledge the now-or-never moment that is the Indiana primary. As he made an Election Eve sprint across the Hoosier State, Cruz repeatedly walked a fine line between confidence and consternation.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Donald Trump on the home stretch in Indiana: 'Pretend we're losing because we have to win big'

FORT WAYNE, Indiana – Donald Trump did something unusual Sunday.

The Republican presidential frontrunner, a master of hype and salesmanship, urged his audience here to ignore new numbers that show him headed for victory in the Indiana primary.

"We got great polls today," Trump said at a rally in front of thousands packed inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. "Don't listen to them. Forget it. Pretend we're losing – we're not; we're winning big. But pretend we're losing, because we have to win big.

"The more we win by, the better it is."

The New York businessman knows Tuesday's vote could be the knockout punch for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his last remaining rivals. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released earlier Sunday found Trump leading Cruz, 49 percent to 34 percent.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ted Cruz and John Kasich continue their clumsy dance. Or do they?

Maybe Ted Cruz and John Kasich are playing by "Fight Club" rules?

If you've read the Chuck Palahniuk novel or seen the David Fincher film, you're familiar with the first two.

1. You do not talk about Fight Club.

2. You do not talk about Fight Club.

This seems to be the philosophy that was intended to govern the unusual alliance between Cruz and Kasich, Republican presidential rivals united in their desperation to stop Donald Trump.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Can Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina go the distance? The pros and cons of an early VP choice

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made the strangest presidential race even stranger Wednesday by introducing Carly Fiorina as his running mate-in-waiting.

The in-waiting part is key. It's not yet May. The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where a Cruz-Fiorina ticket would have to be ratified, is more than 80 days away.

Oh, and there's that minor issue of being 675 delegates shy of the total needed to clinch the nomination. It takes 1,237. Cruz isn't even halfway there, according to the Associated Press. And he won't be before the convention.

But this is the year when everything you once thought impossible is possible.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

On their first day aligned against Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz send mixed messages

McKEES ROCKS, Pa. – John Kasich's campaign began the week with a new lease on life.

But as the Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful ended his day here Monday near his boyhood home, it seemed little had changed. And there were many mixed signals about the alliance he and Ted Cruz formed to block Donald Trump's path to the nomination.

Under a pact announced late Sunday, Kasich is expected to cede Indiana's May 3 primary to Cruz. In exchange, the Texas senator is to stand down in New Mexico and Oregon.

On that much, the rival candidates have agreed.

How to describe the strategy – and how, exactly, to execute it – is an entirely different story.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

John Kasich faces flimsy attacks from Ted Cruz: Gamesmanship or dirty politics?

As Republicans prepare for an open convention this summer in Cleveland, it's getting tougher to tell the difference between gamesmanship and dirty tricks.

Especially if you're John Kasich.

The Ohio governor is stuck in last place in the GOP presidential field. But his two remaining rivals sure seem to be worried about him. New York businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz both have sought to derail Kasich's candidacy -- occasionally in false or misleading ways.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

No, John Kasich is not angling to be Donald Trump's vice president

If John Kasich really wants to be Donald Trump's vice president, there are easier ways than disparaging the real estate mogul's grasp of foreign policy.

Keep that in mind as Ted Cruz backers grumble about how Kasich and Trump blocked Cruz's Michigan delegates from key committees at this summer's Republican National Convention.

The move has led to speculation, encouraged by Cruz's aides and advisers, that Kasich is currying favor with Trump in hopes of scoring the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Here's how John Kasich's team pitched supporters on his prospects at a contested convention

Key advisers to John Kasich's presidential campaign briefed supporters this week on their strategy to win a contested Republican convention here this summer.

The plan, shared at a closed-door meeting Wednesday in Washington, rests on the Ohio governor's high favorability ratings, his lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in early general election polls, and on his ability to convert delegates on later ballots.

"After the first two ballots, most delegates are released from their obligation to vote for a specific candidate," reads a slide from the Kasich campaign's PowerPoint presentation, shared Thursday with by a person who attended the gathering.

"Republican delegates are predominantly grassroots activists, local party officials, and elected officials. Governor Kasich is the only candidate that is left on the stage that has crossover appeal to all factions of the party. Everyone else will be carrying deep battle scars into Cleveland. Governor Kasich will be able to bring different factions together where others can't."

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Big Kasich donors among those in line for new Ohio job creation tax credits

Two of the most generous financial contributors to Ohio Gov. John Kasich's presidential bid are in line to score state tax breaks for their companies – incentives proposed by JobsOhio, a privatized development agency that Kasich created.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority, following the agency's recommendations this week, approved up to nearly $1 million worth of assistance for CC Kitchens LLC and Worthington Steel Co.
CC Kitchens is among the many business interests of Cincinnati Reds owner Robert Castellini. Castellini family members and associates have spent more than $100,000 to help Kasich win the Republican nomination, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Worthington Steel is a subsidiary of Worthington Industries, where Kasich once served on the board of directors. Columbus Blue Jackets owner John McConnell, the company's chairman and chief executive, has invested more than $500,000 in Kasich's run for the White House.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3 reasons why the last 24 hours were devastating for John Kasich's presidential campaign

John Kasich's White House dreams are fading.

The Ohio governor has endured a brutal 24 hours. Really, the seven days since he won his home state's primary have been filled with frustration and disappointment.

Few Republican leaders and voters are taking Kasich seriously. They are making clear that they see him as a third wheel in a race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Kasich can talk all he wants about winning a contested convention this summer in Cleveland. But those who want Trump stopped at any cost are not turning to Kasich with much enthusiasm.

Here's what has gone wrong for him this week.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mitt Romney, John Kasich and their on-again, off-again marriage of convenience

The relationship status between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Mitt Romney? It's complicated.

A week ago, Team Kasich hoped the 2012 Republican presidential nominee might emerge as the governor's top surrogate in an effort to stop Donald Trump.

And now?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

John Kasich survives Ohio primary battle with Donald Trump. Now comes the really tough part.

BEREA, Ohio – Believe it or not, this was the easy part for John Kasich.

The Ohio governor won his home state's Republican presidential primary Tuesday, claiming all 66 delegates up for grabs. Kasich now has a chance to block real estate mogul Donald Trump, the front-runner who has many party leaders in a panic over the prospect of his nomination.

But it is a slim chance. It depends on Kasich and the GOP establishment executing a near-flawless strategy in the coming weeks and months. And if this year's race has taught us anything, it's that even the best laid plans can melt under the flame of Trump's unpredictable candidacy.

If this is, as Trump's foes believe, a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, it's now more likely than ever before that it won't be resolved before the convention begins July 18 in Cleveland.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Mitt Romney, eager to stop Donald Trump, aims to pull John Kasich across the finish line in Ohio

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – In your wildest imagination a year ago, you never would have pictured the Republican presidential race this way on the eve of the Ohio primary.

John Kasich, the state's popular two-term governor, takes the stage at a high school about a mile from his home. At this moment, he is the GOP establishment's last best hope.

There's Mitt Romney by his side. The same Mitt Romney who, when he was the Republican nominee in 2012, received little help or enthusiasm from Kasich.

But, yes, this is really happening. And it's not the most confident pose for Kasich. He is fighting – harder than he ever thought he would have to – to win Ohio.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

John Kasich wrestles with the Donald Trump factor as he fights for home-field advantage in Ohio

MANSFIELD, Ohio – John Kasich carved a niche for himself as the prince of light and hope.

Now, as the Ohio governor approaches his date with Donald Trump and destiny, the darkness of this year's Republican presidential race threatens to overwhelm him.

He is scrambling to win his home state primary Tuesday. Polls indicate it will be close. A loss to Trump, the front-runner feared by the GOP establishment because of his nasty tone and squishy politics, would end Kasich's campaign. A win might keep him alive as a Trump alternative.

Kasich is showing flashes of moodiness in the home stretch.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why John Kasich isn't dropping out

It's time for a John Kasich reality check: The Ohio governor is clinging to dwindling hopes that he can win this year's Republican presidential nomination.

The problem in part is his struggle to overtake Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the establishment lane. But it's also how hard it will be for any other GOP candidate to overtake billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, winner of the last three contests.

Trump has jumped out to a massive lead in the delegate chase. After his romp Tuesday night at the Nevada caucuses, he has more than four times as many delegates as Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, his closest competitors. Kasich is even farther behind.

Elite Republicans who worry that Trump's unpredictable antics will cost them the general election harbor dreams of some sort of Rubio-Kasich alliance, with most of the speculation focused on Kasich bowing out gracefully. But neither is budging.

Whether you think Kasich should stay or go, here's what you should know.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Jai Chabria, longtime adviser to Gov. John Kasich, to leave administration for Ohio GOP job

Jai Chabria, who for years has wielded considerable influence in John Kasich's political orbit, has given up his post as a senior adviser to the Ohio governor.

In an interview Monday, Chabria said he will pursue other opportunities, including a role as the Ohio Republican Party's point-man for the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland.

His exit comes in the midst of Kasich's presidential campaign, which Chabria helped launch. But as others in top state government positions left to work for the Republican's White House bid, Chabria stayed behind as the Kasich administration's chief enforcer in Columbus.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

John Kasich outlasts Jeb Bush: Takeaways from the South Carolina primary

John Kasich was never going to win the South Carolina primary.

But by downplaying his need for a strong finish there – and by arguing that Jeb Bush couldn't afford a poor one – the Ohio governor and his advisers won the expectations game.

There was a sense leading up to Saturday night's results that Bush, the former Florida governor, would be the next Republican to drop out of the presidential race. Kasich's chief strategist, John Weaver, encouraged that speculation in a morning conference call with reporters.

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