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Kasich Surging in Michigan

Kasich Surging in Michigan
Kasich in Monroe Michigan (AP) 

By Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Hours before the polls opened in Michigan for the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, Donald Trump looked like he’d be adding to his string of victories.

But there was also evidence that Ohio Gov. John Kasich was gaining last-minute momentum.

A strong second-place showing that Kasich backers hope for ensures their man will get major swatches of delegates from Michigan and be in a stronger position in numerous primaries that are being held next Tuesday (March 15).

Moreover, the Ohioan’s emergence from Michigan with a large bunch of convention delegates would underscore his case that it is the convention in Cleveland this July, rather than the primaries that will determine the presidential nominee.

Kasich’s Michigan surge, supporters insist, stems from his strong performance in the last televised debate with his opponents. As Michigan’s pro tem state House Speaker Tom Leonard told me, “You saw a lot of talk from the other three candidates and Gov. Kasich as the only adult in the room.”

Along with his debate performance, the Ohioan has clearly gained ground in neighboring Michigan by spending considerable time campaigning there.

Kasich himself acknowledged this Monday night when he told an overflow crowd at the Oakland County Republican dinner in Troy that he had spent so much time in Michigan “the state is going to make me pay income tax.”

According to a just-completed Fox 2 (Detroit) TV poll, Trump leads among likely voters statewide with 42 percent, followed by Kasich 20 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 19 percent, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 9 percent.

An American Research Group Poll completed on Sunday actually showed Kasich leading Trump among likely Michigan voters, 33 to 31 percent, with Cruz at 15 percent and Rubio 11 percent.

“Once Jeb Bush got out of the race, Kasich was the natural beneficiary,” said former Ingham County (Lansing) GOP Chairman Norm Shinkle, who also attended the dinner in Oakland County at which Kasich spoke.

Shinkle, who had been publicly neutral in the primary and frequently wore lapel stickers for all four candidates, told me he decided to vote for the Ohioan.

But other activists in the crowd at the GOP event in Oakland County voiced confidence that Trump’s hard line on trade and illegal immigration resonated enough among blue collar voters in Michigan to ensure a first-place finish tomorrow.

“Auto plant after auto plant has been closing and the business has gone to Mexico and other foreign countries,” political consultant Jamie Roe of Macomb County told me, “So when Trump talks about getting tough with Mexico and China on American jobs, he’s connecting with folks here.”

Roe, who has no horse in the presidential contest, added that Trump’s call for a wall along the Mexican border and the deporting of illegal immigrants “resonates big time in Macomb County, home of the ‘Reagan Democrats.’

"We are now into the second generation of ‘Reagan Democrats’ and they are continuing a family tradition by voting for a conservative outsider.”

Glenn Clark, who managed Rick Santorum’s near-upset of Michigan native Mitt Romney in the 2012 primary, is also neutral in 2016.

“I don’t have any role in any campaign this time,” Clark told me, “But I will say Trump is positioned to do very well in Michigan Tuesday. He was in Warren [in Macomb County] and talked ‘car talk’ — about his passion for the auto industry.

"When he talks about trade, a lot of people are supportive and feel that he’s on their side when it comes to maintaining their jobs.”

Because Michigan has no party registration, normal Democratic voters have a history of voting for Republicans in presidential primaries, and vice versa. As a result, polls are often way off the mark in predicting the outcome.

In 2000, John McCain scored a major upset by defeating George W. Bush in Michigan and, four years ago, Santorum’s near-win over Romney was missed by most pre-primary surveys.

“Based on what our secretary of state says, the turnout Tuesday will be very high and will probably reach an unprecedented total,” State Republican Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel told me, “And since Democrats are having their own contested primary, we think there will be very little mischief in many of them coming into our race.

"If they vote for a Republican, they are voting because they legitimately like that Republican.”

Noting that her uncle Mitt Romney had recently made clear his distaste for Trump as a nominee, I asked McDaniel if she would support the controversial front-runner if he becomes the nominee.

“Absolutely,” she replied.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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Before the polls opened in Michigan for the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, Donald Trump looked like he’d be adding to his victories. There was also evidence that Ohio Gov. John Kasich was gaining last-minute momentum.
Kasich, Michigan
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 09:13 AM
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