Kentucky Republicans can help the party of Lincoln regain its moorings by supporting John Kasich in the state’s first presidential caucus on Saturday.
Of the four remaining GOP contenders, the Ohio governor is by far the most qualified and could best appeal to undecided voters in November.
Sen. Marco Rubio has emerged as the favorite of Kentucky’s GOP leaders. But Rubio is too green to wage a winning General Election campaign or make an effective president.
In terms of knowledge, experience and temperament, Kasich is superior in this field and will have a chance to slow the Donald Trump steamroller when Ohio votes March 15.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Kasich finished second in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. A Kasich win in Kentucky would help shift a race that is likely to remain undecided until the convention.
Kasich, who hails from a battleground state with the seventh-most electoral votes, brings a sensible, hopeful message to a Republican contest that’s been remarkable for its reckless bluster and bigotry.
Republican primary voters are angry and looking for an outsider who can vent their anger. When it comes time to elect a president, though, most Americans will want someone they can trust with the nuclear button and the nation’s security and well-being. Kasich fits that bill.
He also is a solid conservative, who during 18 years in Congress was closely aligned with Newt Gingrich. Kasich chaired the House budget committee for six years, including when the federal budget was balanced for the first time in a generation. He was the primary architect of the welfare reforms that ended lifetime benefits and required recipients to go to work or school. He rooted out waste in defense spending, but, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee for 18 years, also supported the Reagan-era military expansion.
He left politics in 2001 and worked as a Fox News host and managing director of Lehman Brothers’ investing division in Columbus, Ohio.
In 2010, Kasich defeated a Democratic governor and was easily re-elected in 2014. He has signed 16 anti-abortion measures and once supported fracking in Ohio’s state parks.
He’s also one of the few Republican governors to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, in part, he says, to battle opioid addiction, a reminder that Kentucky and Ohio share a border and many problems. The advantages of having a sympathetic neighbor in the White House is another factor in Kasich’s favor.
On Saturday, registered Republicans may cast secret ballots from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but not at their usual polling places. Fayette County will have four caucus locations but most counties will have only one. To determine where to vote, go to Rpk.org or call 502-607-8970.
Eleven names will appear on the ballot, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who sought the caucus to get around the state ban on running for more than one office at once. Paul dropped out after Lexington Mayor Jim Gray entered the Senate race as a Democrat and after Paul finished fifth in Iowa’s presidential caucuses.
Of the four candidates still campaigning, casino and development mogul Donald Trump has repeatedly disqualified himself with wild fabrications and bullying; the only hope for a Trump presidency would be if he broke almost every promise he’s made, a weak platform for winning voters’ trust in November.
Two first-term U.S. senators — Ted Cruz and Rubio — lack the depth to be president.
Cruz is as toxic as Trump when it comes to inflaming emotions and bigotry. Cruz has shown disregard for the country’s security by trying to force government shutdowns and is engaging in irresponsible saber-rattling. Rubio, who disliked being in the Senate, lacks Kasich’s consistency, changing his stands on such key issues as immigration with the political winds.
After campaigning in Lexington earlier this week, Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday signaled his departure from the race.
Kasich is the Republican Party’s best hope, not just to regain the White House but perhaps also to avoid self-immolation.