How Moderate Is John Kasich?

With each passing primary, John Kasich's chances of becoming the Republican presidential nominee shrink, an ironic fate for the candidate who polls show has the best chance for winning in November.

He is still hoping that Nasty and Nastier knock each other out and force a brokered convention which picks him as the adult alternative to lead the party. 

Unfortunately, Kasich's chances are diddly squat, as we Ohioans say. Donald Trump is threatening Chicago 1968 redux if he doesn't get it, and Ted Cruz picked Carly Fiorina as his running mate because she can best savage Hillary Clinton and not be branded sexist.

It's easy to see Kasich as a likeable, moderate, conservative alternative to Cruz. Ronald Reagan would be a flaming liberal next to that guy. The arch-conservative evangelical Texas senator is the most reactionary and despised member of the Senate, and that's just among fellow Republicans.

Trump claims to be a conservative but it's impossible to know for sure. His views shift on a whim, and even he may not be sure where he stands until he opens his mouth. 

The Ohio governor is more likeable than his rivals, but that's a no-brainer when the other two look like playground bullies.

That "calm adult" persona he tries to project is not the one his Ohio Statehouse colleagues are familiar with.  A former aide who spent 17 years working with Kasich said he has "anger management problems" and tends to be "preachy (and) self-righteous." 

He may battle with the very conservative GOP-led Ohio General Assembly, but he has signed every measure they've sent him to restrict abortion rights, suppress voting rights and weaken the unions.

During a New Hampshire campaign appearance he proposed cutting Social Security benefits "to save the program."  When a listener objected, he told her to "get over it." 

He has also spoken of a flat income tax, which would mean large increases in sales taxes, disproportionately placing the burden on middle and lower income families.

Foreign policy has not been a major theme of his campaign.  He pledged strong support for Israel – which he demonstrated in nine terms in Congress — and said any disagreements between Washington and Jerusalem should be aired in private, not publicly as Barack Obama has often done. 

That should be relatively easy because Kasich indicated he would pursue a laissez-faire approach. 

He is pessimistic about the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace and would steer clear unless both sides invited the United States to mediate, he said.  Meanwhile, they should "work it out amongst themselves." He has no intention of being neutral in that dispute, however, and denounced the Palestinian Authority's "culture of hate."

Where he would get involved is the war against ISIS.  As president he would send in combat troops.

One war he's been waging intensely is against women's reproductive rights. 

He has signed measures to end funding for Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion access, effectively forcing closure of half the state's abortion clinics.  He has also cut state funding for women's and infants' health programs, HIV testing and rape prevention programs.

To prevent sexual violence on campuses he advised young women, "Don't go to parties where there's a lot of alcohol."

He has been part of the nationwide Republican effort to limit voting rights by reducing access to the polls, eliminating same-day registration and voting, reducing the time for early voting, restricting absentee ballots and cutting hours that polling places are open.  It is no coincidence that those hurt most by these measures are minorities, the elderly and the working class, most of whom tend to vote Democratic.  Kasich dismissed objections, saying it was all done in the name efficiency.

Comparing Kasich to Trump and Cruz, a former aide said, "He's conservative but at least he's sane." 

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.