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The Kasich Option

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To avoid an historic tumble in the November elections, what should the Republican Party do at its July 18-21 nominating convention, if “Doubtful Donald” Trump and “Terrible Ted” Cruz cancel each other out?

Their best chance is to nominate the remaining man in the race—Ohio Governor, John Kasich who polls better than Hillary Clinton who, in turn, polls better than both Trump and Cruz. (Bernie Sanders polls better against all the Republicans.)

Many of the Convention delegates may be in high heat and playing with the irresistible, venomous, masochistic fervor. This would be okay with the Democratic Party that would enjoy the televised spectacle of the GOP imploding. But, if cool heads are bent on rescuing the Party from the brink, here is the case they can make for Kasich.

The son of a postal worker, Kasich is a candidate who thinks, but still he is a wily politician. He spent years in the House of Representatives as a close confidante with the insurgent Newt Gingrich who overthrew the Democrats and defeated its Speaker, Tom Foley, in that memorable election of 1994.

I remember seeing Kasich huddling around a lunch table at a nearby Washington restaurant strategizing with Speaker Gingrich. Yet he was not a sycophant. He even publically suggested that the Pentagon budget may be more than a little bloated.

Kasich became Chairman of the influential House Budget Committee. In that capacity, he responded well to my request for the first Congressional hearing in history on corporate welfare or crony capitalism. The day-long hearing, being of pioneering consequence, received very little press, because the reporters knew that Kasich was not going to follow-through seriously with legislation. See, he is a politician.

As Ohio Governor, he swung into attacking the deficit, neglecting to cut corporate welfare payments or tax abatements as one important way to reduce the deficit. Three letters from me reminding him of his House Budget hearing were not answered. But, he did often reveal his compassion, most notably applying his religious principles by going with Obamacare’s Medicaid program, unlike other Republican Governors who ideologically rejected this health insurance for poor families.

During the presidential debates, Governor Kasich, a decided underdog, became a contrasting voice to the crazed belligerence, insult-soaked, waves of false statements and braggadocios of Trump, Cruz, Christie, Rubio and other early dropouts.

Kasich has won only one state primary—defeating Trump in his state of Ohio. But, he has been on the modest upswing in recent primaries and receiving more press for being a comparatively sane voice amidst the shouting and overtalking of his fellow candidates.

I saw three versions of Kasich on the debate stage. Kasich, the advocate for reason, negotiation and compromise. Kasich, the presentation of himself—experienced, knowledgeable and steady. And Kasich, pulled down by the madness of the stage to say some “wild and crazy” things, especially about his proposed military policies.

He seems relatively scandal-free, has a fine family and can talk folksy because he is folksy. The biggest operating problem in his campaign is not being able to raise enough money to match his major competitors.

Donald Trump won’t get the necessary 1237 delegates to gain the majority—assuming they all stay with him—at the Convention. Neither will Cruz, even with his machinations amongst the delegates which have outmaneuvered the underorganized Trump to date.

Who is left? House Speaker Paul Ryan seems to mean it when he says he’s not interested in the nomination. Mitt Romney will be seen as a retread with continual plutocratic baggage in a year of progressive resurgence. And Jeb Bush has already been rejected by Republican voters in the primaries, notwithstanding his best known name and massive campaign funds.

Kasich is the remaining, vetted default option.

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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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