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Posts tagged as “Republican presidential”

First take/Otter-Kasich

Cycle back to around, oh, 2001, and look at where C.L. "Butch" Otter and John Kasich were then - not just physically, but philosophically.

On his election to the U.S. House in 2000, Otter was described by the Almanac of American Politics as "not the social conservative his predecessor Helen Chenoweth was," but beyond that very much in the conservative old: favoring lower taxes, reduced regulation, a pro-business outlook.

At right about that time, Kasich was becoming George W. Bush's budget director, after a stretch as House budget committee chair. He and Otter had some similarities in personality, both exuding a certain sunniness and natural campaigning charm, and also ideological rigor of the same sort. Kasich had batted Bill Clinton with "cut spending first" demands in the 90s, ad became Budget chair "determined to reduce the size and scale of government." He and Otter would have been kindred spirits in D.C. Both were solidly loyalist in the conservative movement of the 90s and beyond.

With that in mind, Otter's endorsement this week of Kasich for president comes as no shock, but it does show how far the Republican Party has come. These days, Kasich is no longer on the front lines of the right; within the party, he's more often considered a "moderate" or worse, the "least conservative" of the Republican presidential field even when that field consisted of 16 or so candidates. And Otter has been challenged from the right, seriously, something that (as he has said) would have been simply inconceivable not so many years before.

On another level, the endorsement may also show something else: Personal loyalty, since at this point Kasich seems to have no practical path to the Republican nomination. - rs

First take

There'll be a lot more of this to come, but I found today's Charles Krauthammer column of some interest (and that's not so typically the case) as a differentiator of the many Republican candidates: Who's in the top rank, who's just below that, etc. Krauthammer's take: On top - Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, based on polling and money; Second rank - Rand Paul ("high floor, low ceiling"), Ben Carson; Third rank but prospects for growth - Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina; and, seeking divine intervention - Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Best line: That Perry is on "24-hour gaffe watch." My take: all of these candidacies are built on sand but I'd especially down-rank Carson and Fiorina. One other thought: With Iowa Republicans cancelling the summer straw poll this year, the off-the-top-of-your-head analysis like these surely will proliferate.

The number of people answering "none" to the question of "what's your religion" has been growing rapidly in just the last few years and is picking up steam. After many years in which the "nones" were reported in mid-single digit percentages, the number has been shooting upward of late, reaching - in the new Pew Research Center poll - about 23%. That happens to be more than the number of Roman Catholics in the United States. Speculation here is that this reflects not so much a change of attitude or belief as it does a willingness to give the "none" answer: In many places across the country, being unchurched is just socially unacceptable. Maybe not so much any more, and the numbers may indicate the approach of a tipping point. If so, it could be in line with the way several other social questions have gone in the last decade or so.