Tag Archives: John Kasich

A Sober Look at Ohio

Sorry to go all “Debbie Downer” with this post, but I think this is a good piece on the difficulties for Romney in Ohio.

In nearly every mention of Ohio, I refer to it as a tough nut or tough terrain for Romney.  It’s not without reason.  This was a state 12-months ago the Obama campaign privately thought was out of reach for them.  But rather than conceding the point, they redoubled their efforts and changed the narrative.  Now it is Romney looking at at increasingly difficult numbers in Ohio (even with appropriately balanced polling) and it is his campaign that needs to change the narrative.  They are already redoubling their efforts evidenced by the current three-day immersion in the state but that must only be the beginning.  Peter Hamby of CNN takes a sober look at what troubles the Romney campaign in a very fair assessment of where things stand:

Interviews with some two dozen Republican strategists and elected officials across Ohio revealed an array of explanations — and no easy answers — for Romney’s failure to catch on there. Some pointed to the Obama campaign’s aggressive effort to hang Romney’s opposition to the federal bailout of Chrysler and General Motors around his neck. Others said a hangover remains from the divisive 2011 battle over collective bargaining rights that hurt the GOP’s standing with working class voters. A handful of GOP strategists blamed Romney’s standing on campaign staffers who aren’t Ohio natives. One longtime Republican strategist griped about the “arrogant top-down” approach of the Romney team and said they have done a poor job listening to the advice of savvy Ohio strategists — a charge rebuffed by Romney aides who point out that field staffers from the Ohio offices of Sen. Rob Portman and House Speaker John Boehner have come on board. Still others cited Romney’s lackluster political skills and said his stiff CEO demeanor as a turnoff for Ohioans, with one Republican officeholder saying that former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wasn’t far off when he said recently that Romney is being caricatured as “a plutocrat married to a known equestrian.”

A man without a message

The main criticism that emerged, though, is that Romney is man without a message. “We are still at a point where I think it’s still a winnable race for Romney,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Generally when you talk people, there is a feeling that Obama hasn’t done that great a job. But Romney hasn’t made the sale. He still can. But he hasn’t made the sale yet.” Another statewide Republican officeholder who — like others interviewed for this article — did not want to be identified criticizing the Republican ticket, offered a blunter assessment. Both Romney and Obama, this official argued, have provided nothing but “narrow arguments” and “fantasy land” policy prescriptions for the country. “Why is Mitt Romney running for president and what will his presidency be about?” the official asked. “I don’t think most Republicans in Ohio can answer that question. He has not made a compelling case for his candidacy. Don’t make your campaign about marginal tax rates. Make it about your children and your grandchildren and the future of this country.”

Fallout over bailout

Obama forces have persistently reminded voters about the auto bailout — on television and in small-scale earned media events around the state — and Republicans faulted Romney for failing to develop a succinct response to the criticism in a state where one out of every eight jobs is tied to the auto sector. Romney wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2008 titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” and argued for a managed bankruptcy for the industry, without the use of government funds. In May, he took credit for proposing the bankruptcy idea. In August, he tapped a running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who voted in favor of bailout. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has aired multiple TV ads on the issue and synced their pro-bailout message with down-ballot Democratic candidates such as Sen. Sherrod Brown. According to The Washington Post poll, 64% of Ohio registered voters view the federal loans to GM and Chrysler as “mostly good” for the state’s economy. Only 29% said the bailout was “mostly bad.” Putting a finer point on the matter, one longtime Ohio GOP strategist called Obama’s advantage on the auto bailout “a kick in the balls” for the Romney campaign.

Ground operation a bright spot for Romney

One aspect of the Romney operation that earned praise from Republicans is the campaign’s ground game, which has made more than 3 million volunteer voter contacts so far this year and knocked on 28 times as many doors in Ohio as John McCain’s campaign did in 2008. “It’s one of the better operations in the country, as it always is,” Romney’s political director Rich Beeson told CNN. “Ohio has always led the way and it is again this cycle.” The so-called “victory effort” — a joint venture of the Romney campaign, Republican National Committee and Ohio Republican Party — has 40 offices statewide. The humming ground effort, combined with Ohio’s traditional GOP lean and what’s expected to be a more animated conservative base than in 2008, has Republicans confident that the final margin on Election Day will be much closer than the 5, 6 or 7-point Obama lead seen in recent public polls. “Nobody will win Ohio by 5,” said Mike Weaver, a Republican consultant with more than two decades of campaign experience in the state. “Anybody who tells you that doesn’t know Ohio. This state is too close. It’s too divided. It will not be Obama by 5 or Romney by 5.”

Mixed message from Kasich irks GOP

Republican Gov. John Kasich’s relentless boosterism for the uptick in Ohio job creation runs counter to the national Republican message that Obama’s policies have kept the economy from bouncing back. The statewide unemployment rate has fallen to 7.2%, roughly a point below the national average. In bellwether central Ohio, home to the capital city of Columbus and its thriving suburbs, the jobless rate fell to 5.9% in August. Kasich is not shy about talking up Ohio’s job growth, even if it muddles the Romney campaign’s arguments about the state of the national economy. At a recent campaign event in conservative Owensville, a fiery Kasich boasted that “Ohio is rocking!” — moments before turning the microphone over to Paul Ryan, who proceeded to issue dire warnings about Obama’s economic policies. The mixed messaging has rankled Republicans in the Romney and Kasich camps. Both sides have done their best to keep the tensions under wraps, but they occasionally spill over into public view…One Washington-based GOP operative involved in the campaign and closely watching Ohio accused Kasich of not doing enough to help Romney win the state. “No single swing state Republican has been less willing to criticize President Obama at important junctures in this campaign than John Kasich,” the Republican told CNN. “Anyone who doesn’t want an Obama second term should be furious at him.”

Ohio in Focus

From the inception of this blog Ohio and Virginia have been 1 and 1a in terms of priorities for both campaigns.  Should one campaign win both those states they almost certainly win the election.  The Romney campaign is spending three days in Ohio to being home what has been a tough nut to crack in an otherwise dead heat race:

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that’s trending toward the president, endangering Romney’s White House hopes.

Dueling Campaigns

The popularity of Obama’s auto industry bailout, and a better-than-average local economy, are undermining Romney’s call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush’s two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it. Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney’s bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.

Campaign Saturation

Not even Florida has seen as many presidential TV campaign ads as Ohio, and neither nominee goes very long without visiting or talking about the state. When Obama touted his “decision to save the auto industry” on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, he mentioned not the major car-making state of Michigan but Ohio, which focuses more on car parts. “One in eight jobs in Ohio is dependent on the auto industry,” Obama said.

The Kasich Konundrum

One problem for Romney is that Ohio’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate is below the national average, as the Republican governor, John Kasich, often reminds residents. “We are up 122,000 jobs,” Kasich told a panel during the Republican convention last month. “The auto industry job growth is 1,200,” he said, perhaps trying to play down that sector’s role. Kasich says he supports Romney and Ohio would do even better if Obama were replaced. But the governor’s understandable pride in the state’s job growth runs counter to Romney’s message that Obama is an economic failure.

An opening for Romney

The Fox News poll suggests there’s room for Romney to advance. Nearly one in three Ohio voters said they are “not at all satisfied” with the way things are going in the country, and an additional 26 percent are “not very satisfied.” Only 7 percent are “very satisfied,” and 34 percent are “somewhat satisfied.” Romney is trying to tap that discontent. But he’s having mixed success with his chief target: white, working class voters who are socially conservative and often have union backgrounds. A generation ago they were called “Reagan Democrats.”

Auto Bailout Boon

In 2009, Obama’s administration used billions of taxpayer dollars to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat while they reorganized through bankruptcy. Romney said the companies should have been allowed to enter bankruptcy without government help. But an array of officials at the time said the automakers would have gone under without it. GM still owes the government about $25 billion. But many workers in Ohio and elsewhere consider the auto bailout a success. It affected thousands of businesses, some of them fairly small, that make an array of products that go into vehicles, new and used. Jeff Gase, a UAW union member who introduced Obama at a Columbus rally last week, credited the president with saving the paint company where he works. “Mom and pop body shops” buy the paint, Gase said, and now his plant is running “full steam ahead.” Romney notes that many Ohio car dealerships went out of business during the industry reorganization.

Bring the fight to Obama

Still, the Republican is pushing hard. Romney has forced Obama to run ads in Ohio defending the administration’s handling of China trade and the U.S. coal industry. Romney’s ads say government regulations are stifling the energy industry and Obama hasn’t been tough enough on China’s protection of its exporters, two claims the administration rejects. Ohio, meanwhile, appears to be the only state this week where Obama’s campaign is still airing a 60-second ad called “The Question,” which disputes Romney’s claim that Americans are worse off than they were four years ago.

4 Governors and a Little Economy

Flooding the zone today in Ohio with the help of Ohio governor John Kasich, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney went on the offensive of a bad economy and poor jobs growth:

Romney stepped up his attacks on President Obama, choosing to go on the offensive by using Obama’s words against him. Romney has seized on Obama’s statement from a Virginia rally — “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” — to paint Obama as anti-business. “This is the height of foolishness … it shows how out of touch he is with the character of America,” Romney said as the crowd applauded. “It’s one more reason why his policies have failed. It’s one more reason why we have to replace him in November. “This idea of criticizing and attacking success, of demonizing those in all walks of life who have been successful, is something that is so foreign to us that we can’t understand it,” Romney said

Enter Ohio Governor John Kasich

“The Romney campaign and the Kasich campaign have something very much in common,” Kasich (R) said. “You know they spent all their time trying to smear me because I worked in business. You know why they did it, because they have nothing to sell themselves. Now they are releasing one smear attack after another, because Mitt Romney was in business, and they’ve got nothing to sell. So now they’re trying to smear him.” Romney has been tag-teaming with Republican governors in swing states and arguing that policies put in place by conservatives have helped create jobs and rainy day funds in several states — Ohio’s unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, whereas the national rate is 8.2 percent.

GOP governors and jobs

“I was on a bus trip a few weeks ago you may have seen across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan. … I was in Indiana, Wisconsin, and these are the states headed by Republican governors, and you know what? They are doing the right things and it’s making a difference,” Romney said. “It’s time to have the principals of your state here applied in Washington.” A fiery Romney, who said that he hadn’t made a decision about his vice president in the question-and-answer session, suggested that Obama cares more about getting reelected than creating jobs. “In the last six months, he has held 100 fundraisers, and guess how many meetings he has had with his jobs council?” Romney asked. “None. Zero. Zero in the last six months. So it makes it very clear where his priorities are.”

Battleground Counties: Hamilton County, Ohio

Note: This is based on an article published April 30, 2012

With Battleground counties gaining such prominence, I decided to go back and see what The Wall Street Journal published in their Swing Nation coverage.  Below is their look at Hamilton County, Ohio shortly after Romney locked up the GOP nomination:

As the 2012 race intensifies between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the political backdrop in this pivotal swing state is being shaped by events that roiled Ohio a year ago. The fight over the bargaining rights of public-employee unions energized partisans on both sides, and amounted to a trial run for the general election that each party is now trying to use to its advantage. Neither party has a decisive edge, and Ohio figures to be a pivotal as well as closely fought state in the presidential race. Both parties have targeted Ohio as a battleground state, and the two candidates plan to spend a lot of time there. Mr. Obama will be in Ohio this week during his official campaign kickoff. Mr. Romney paid a visit Friday.  And while the union fight and its aftermath will affect the November campaign, including Ohio’s congressional elections, it will hardly be the only issue. A recent survey by the Quinnipiac University Poll showed nine in 10 Ohioans rated the economy as “extremely important” or “very important.”

Public employee unions and collective bargaining rights

Last year’s fight over public-employee unions was waged when Ohio’s unemployment rate was around 9%. Since then, though, it has dropped to 7.5%. One political debate will be whether the Republican Gov. John Kasich—the man at the center of the union fight—or the Democratic president, Mr. Obama, gets credit if the state’s jobless rate continues to fall. Democrats think the fracas reopened the door for supporters who have slipped away in recent years: white, working-class, Republican-leaning voters who disliked the GOP move to shrink the power of public-sector unions, to which many remain loyal. During the fight last year, Mr. Obama lashed out against Ohio’s collective-bargaining law and a similar law in Wisconsin. Republicans, however, are optimistic the core debate over the size of government—including pay and pensions of public employees—will energize their base and pull financially pressed swing voters in their direction. Mr. Romney had backed the law, writing on his Facebook page last year that he fully supported Ohio Republicans’ efforts “to limit the power of union bosses and keep taxes low.” Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a potential GOP running mate, tried to stay on the sidelines during the fight, but he has supported collective-bargaining rights for police in the past.

Battleground county

Hamilton County is an important swing county in what may be the most important swing state. It is closely watched because its evenly divided electorate has so accurately reflected Ohio’s in the past. Vote tallies here almost precisely mirrored the state’s overall results when Ohio went for Mr. Obama in 2008, 52% to 47%, and then for Mr. Kasich in 2010, 49% to 47%. Ohio gives an ideal vantage point to see how the two parties are battling. Democratic campaign workers are poring over the 1.3 million voter signatures collected to repeal the collective-bargaining law, in hopes of pinpointing swing voters: Democrats say 10% of the signatures came from registered Republicans, 24% were Democrats and independents accounted for 65%. Hamilton generated more signatures per resident than any other county against three GOP-backed laws last year, including the collective-bargaining law. Its rich trove of votes has prompted the Obama campaign to open two of its 18 Ohio offices here. Volunteers began knocking on doors across the state two weeks ago.

Continue reading

Flooding the Zone: Ohio Wednesday

Mitt Romney stumps in Ohio tomorrow with a few friends:

In addition to Mitt Romney and John Kasich, the following Republican shoguns will be campaigning in Ohio Wednesday:

  • Bobby Jindal (Columbus)
  • Jeb Bush (Hamilton)