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WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD

Filed at 6:18 pm under by dcobranchi

This column by the former editor of my local fishwrap is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long while. The far right wingnut actually “thinks” that Kasich may have “an excellent shot at the nomination.” I’ll go out on a limb. Not only will Kasich not be the GOP nominee, he will not make it out of Iowa.

I’ve read Myer’s columns for 3+ years now. The only thing he has ever gotten correct is his email address.

One might think it would be self-evident that a national debt amounting to nearly $60,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States is the most critical challenge facing Americans.

And addressing the problem by finding someone with experience in cutting government spending rather than padding it also ought to be the obvious move.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich is having to work hard to persuade American voters of those two things.

Kasich is running for president, though many people don’t know it. Only a few insightful observers mention him, much less give him a chance at winning. That may be a big strength.

Real Clear Politics, which monitors public opinion polls, has Kasich dead last in a potential field of 12 candidates for the Republican nomination for president. RCP checked results of six recent polls in which Kasich was the choice of just 1.3 percent of respondents. The leaders were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 16.8, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at 16.2.

But Kasich has advantages over some GOP hopefuls. For one thing, he’s not a member of Congress. He’s an “outsider” like Bush and Walker.

And Kasich, who sought the Republican nomination once before (George W. Bush beat him), has some experience in a national campaign. Some observers already have predicted Walker will fail because he lacks experience on a national stage.

Voters in two very important election states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, can view Kasich as a favorite son (he grew up in McKee’s Rocks, Pa.).

It will be difficult for Kasich’s opponents to jam a silver spoon in his mouth, as they are certain to do with Bush. Kasich, the son of a mailman, can claim as hardscrabble a youth as any candidate.

For Kasich to pick up steam, several things need to happen. First, the GOP front-runners need to stumble. Walker already has, a bit, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him. It’s highly unlikely Bush will self-inflict any wounds.

Second, more people in the national news media need to start talking seriously about Kasich. There’s some hope of that happening.

Third, deep-pockets donors need to start stepping up to the plate for Kasich.

But the most critical factor is whether Americans can be persuaded to worry about deficit spending. Clearly, they don’t now and haven’t for some time. They keep re-electing members of Congress who vote for bigger government.

Most people seem worried more about Islamic terrorists than the national debt. Indeed, the beheaders are a concern – but the chance of getting caught in a terrorist attack is miniscule. Everyone suffers from the $18.2 trillion debt. Kasich’s burden is making them understand that.

If he can, he has an excellent shot at the nomination – because he has a record of getting fiscal results. While in the House of Representatives, he was chairman of the Budget Committee. There, he got much of the credit for crafting a balanced federal budget in 1997. Nowadays, if Washington holds the annual deficit to half a trillion dollars, everyone declares victory.

When he became governor, Ohio faced an $8 billion two-year budget gap. Working with legislators, Kasich erased it. Ohio’s economy is growing, in part because of tax relief championed by the governor.

Some conservatives say Kasich’s chance at the GOP nomination is hurt by his action in expanding the Medicaid program in Ohio, through Obamacare. Do those folks not understand how absolutely critical it is that the 2016 Republican nominee have “compassionate conservative” credentials?

Kasich already has tested the waters on his strategy, through a six-week tour of about a dozen states in which he advocated a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. To judge by the poll numbers, the trip did him little good.

But national public opinion doesn’t win primary elections in key states. My guess is that if Kasich can stay in it long enough to take his case personally to voters in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina on the eves of their straw polls and primaries, he’s going to surprise a lot of people.

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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