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Kasich's Conservatism Called Into Question

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Tuesday, 23 Feb 2016 08:15 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As John Kasich insists he’s in the race for the long haul, his campaign has recently begun to unveil a string of controversial endorsements from leaders nationwide.

Some of these endorsements are sure to help Kasich in his strategy of focusing on states in the northeast and Midwest which hold primaries after the largely Southern Super Tuesday primaries March 1. In Michigan, which holds its primary March 8, the Ohioan picked up the backing of several past and present conservative state legislators.

But the backing of some Republicans not considered conservative is also likely to underscore already-simmering doubts on the right about Kasich’s conservative pedigree.

In a story first broken by Newsmax Monday morning, former Secretary of Homeland Security and onetime Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced that he was weighing in with Kasich (with whom he came to the U.S. House in 1982). Centrist Republican Ridge had formerly backed and campaigned for Jeb Bush, who withdrew from the race following a dismal showing in the South Carolina primary.

“And there will be more endorsements for John forthcoming — a lot more,” a top Kasich operative told me on background Monday.

Later that day, Kasich’s headquarters announced his support from William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, and from former Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., who has made three losing bids for U.S. senator from the Golden State.

Respected as a governor who cut taxes and fought spending during his almost seven years in Harrisburg, Ridge has long taken the pro-choice stand on abortion. This position was reportedly what kept the Pennsylvanian off the lists of potential vice presidential running mates for George W. Bush in 2000.

As U.S. Representative from 1982-94, Ridge voted the moderate-to-liberal line and was a critic of much of the Reagan foreign policy agenda (notably opposing U.S. aid to the anti-communist contras in Central America).

Both Weld and Campbell also embrace the liberal wing of the GOP on abortion as well as other social issues such as same-sex marriage. Weld, in fact, was a Republican for Obama in 2008. Campbell has been a bete noire to conservatives in California going back to his losing 1992 Senate primary bid, when his TV commercials charged conservative opponent Bruce Herschensohn “is lying [and] wants to take away your Social Security.”

He also attacked Herschensohn’s flat tax proposal as something that would cause another Great Depression (despite Campbell’s endorsement from his onetime University of Chicago faculty adviser Milton Friedman, considered the father of the flat tax).

Such endorsements for Kasich have been greeted warily on the right.

“I certainly am aware of Gov. Kasich’s ties to the conservative movement in Ohio and they go way back,” said Tom Winter, retired editor and onetime co-owner of the conservative publication “Human Events” and vice-chairman of the American Conservative Union, “But being supported by Ridge, Weld, and Campbell only fuels those who say Kasich is not a conservative.”

Matt Lewis of the “Daily Caller” was much stronger in his assessment.

“I don't think these endorsements raise doubts about Kasich's conservative positions. We are well past that point,” said Lewis, author of a new book on the Republican Party entitled “Too Dumb to Fail.” “These endorsements merely reinforce his image as a moderate.”

Speaking to an overflow town meeting in Northern Virginia Monday morning, Kasich proudly defended two positions he has taken that have caused consternation on the right: He defended taking Ohio into the Medicaid exchange under Obamacare and denounced calls by other Republicans for a moratorium on admitting Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Recalling his own Croatian heritage, the candidate said that if a ban on refugees had been in place two generations ago, “I’d be running for president of Croatia today.”

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

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As John Kasich insists he’s in the race for the long haul, his campaign has recently begun to unveil a string of controversial endorsements from leaders nationwide.
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2016-15-23
Tuesday, 23 Feb 2016 08:15 AM
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