For Clinton, Kasich

BY ART CULLEN

The best choice for America next November would be a Presidential election contest between Hillary Clinton of New York for the Democrats and John Kasich of Ohio for the Republicans. Each has the best resumé from their respective parties with deep political and executive experience. They are the most likely to run a campaign that drives to the center with a reasonable discussion of America’s future.

The Clinton camp once thought Iowa too liberal for them. Truth be told, Iowa Democrats nominate with their heads over their hearts, unlike the Iowa GOP which votes its values over its prospects.

If we were endorsing with our hearts, our favorite is Martin O’Malley, the Democratic former governor of Maryland. He is the best friend of immigrants of all the field, hands down. He would be better for renewable energy than President Obama — and that is saying something. He would be tougher on hedge funds than Bernie Sanders, the angry old man of the left who shunned the Democratic Party when it suited him. O’Malley is not ready for prime time, and Sanders’ song starts to sound screechy after awhile.

Clinton was a tremendous attorney in Arkansas, an advocate for the Children’s Defense Fund, First Lady of the United States, US Senator from New York and Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. She is clearly the most experienced and predictable candidate of all.

If this is an election about security, then Clinton is the answer. She is more hawkish than Obama, which disturbs us, but no opponent will be able to accuse her of being soft or naïve. She was in the room with Obama and Biden when Osama bin Laden went down. She was the diplomatic architect of a semblance of government in Afghanistan, which appears to be holding off the Taliban today. She understands China and could stare down Russia’s Putin. The general Republican response to world security problems this campaign has been to bomb the Middle East back into the Stone Age. Clinton has always been the one calling for a united world diplomatic effort at bringing Russia and China into the fold to help forge solutions to security threats from the Middle East to Eastern Europe and North Korea.

She has been vetted. The right-wing machine has been attacking her for 20 years, and she still is among the most popular politicians in America. Nobody can campaign against Republicans better or with more fury.

On fiscal matters, the last time the US ran a budget surplus was under Bill Clinton. Democrats always will be disappointed in their compromises (see welfare reform) and their failures (see health care reform). She is not O’Malley or Sanders or, to bring up a sore subject, a George McGovern or Adlai Stevenson, the most lovable of liberal losers.

Iowa Democrats know all that.

More than anything, they want a winner.

Hillary Clinton has lost only once, to a juggernaut known as Barack Obama. When he gave his first speeches here, every progressive knew he had just captured lightning in a bottle. She got an electoral education that should serve her well this time around.

Hillary Clinton is the best choice for Democrats in 2016.

 

Any number of Republicans think they can beat her, and will point to early polls showing they trump her in a general election. Until voters figure out who Trump and Cruz and Rubio are.

Those probably are the three GOP tickets out of Iowa. Kasich is not on that bus. His bus has been camped mainly in New Hampshire, where he polls nearly as well as Chris Christie. The Ohio governor is former chairman of the US House Budget Committee. He has done battle directly with the Clintons. Kasich is smart, combative and funny. And he has something the other Republicans aren’t showing much of: a heart for the little guy and the immigrant.

A Republican must get about 42% of the Latino vote to win. George W. Bush got there with compassionate conservativism, which his brother Jeb has not quite figured out. Kasich has. He accepted an expanded Medicaid program for Ohio (much like Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did) while other Republicans blasted it as heresy. He scolded his own party for disrespecting the poor. He spends as much time talking about how to help a house cleaner get ahead as he does about raising taxes or bombing Syria.

Kasich is a budget hawk, but a smart one. He knows when to make a deal. He is trying to find common ground between industrial agriculture and urban interests in cleaning up Lake Erie from pollution. He does not want to privatize Social Security. He is not Scott Walker.

But he does not intend to pray his way to the nomination. He does not intend to ship out every last undocumented immigrant from our communities. He favors a path to citizenship, we understand. He is not afraid of renewable energy, and would be a far stronger proponent of ethanol than Texas oil puppet Cruz.

He is from Ohio. He could select young Marco Rubio of Florida to be his understudy as vice president. Two swing states locked up plus a bid at the Hispanic vote. If Iowa Republicans used their heads and not their hearts, they would put Kasich and Rubio No. 1 and 2.