First it was Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky who finally found the inner nerve to declare he was voting for Donald Trump this fall.
Then on Thursday the highest ranking elected Republican in the nation, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, who per the U.S. Constitution is second in the line of succession after Vice President Joe Biden to become president, joined Sen. McConnell on the Trump train that’s been careening down the tracks, energizing many and maybe scaring even more.
Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for Republicans this year, looks to lock up the grueling primary season with expected wins in western states, most notably California, on June 7, next Tuesday when the primaries that whittled 17 down to one come to an end. Big plans are in the works for the GOP national convention in Cleveland in mid July, when Donald Trump will accept the nomination as Republicans, some willingly endorsing the New York billionaire and businessman folk hero while others summon the inner nerve to get on-board, line up with the bombastic, slash-and-burn candidate who gives no quarter.
As always, Ohio will again be a front-and-center battleground state the eventually winning candidate will want to capture to push them into the White House. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who once dreamed of being the leader of the free world but who has been licking his wounds as a lame-duck leader, prides himself on driving in his own lane. Driving in your own lane may sound good when the campaign in going full tilt, but that journey ended tragically for Mr. Kasich when he got clobbered in Indiana, forcing him to exit a race many thought he should have exited long ago based on his inability to win any state other than Ohio.
Back in Columbus being governor again, John Kasich’s penchant to drive in his own-lane is making the Kasich lane a lonely one-lane highway. Since ending his long-shot campaign, Gov. Kasich has no reason to speak with reporters other than ones from the Columbus Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer who earned their special access with fawning articles about him on the campaign trail, paying attention to a candidate that national media didn’t pay all that much attention to even when he was in the race.
With Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan now standing with Donald Trump, what, exactly, is John Kasich’s excuse for refusing to endorse the Big Orange Machine? Will he show up in Cleveland as his petulant, off-putting self—a reputation built over the years that was fortified by his performance on the campaign trail—or will he suck it up and endorse the GOP nominee as he promised to do in a nationally televised GOP even though Donald Trump has no plans to remake himself in John Kasich’s hopes and hugs image?
Meanwhile, Mr. Ryan unveiled a slogan reflective of John Kasich’s “New Day” campaign. On Friday Speaker Ryan rolled out his “A Better Way” plan, which offers a plan dubbed “Our Vision for a Confident America.” Mr. Ryan, famous for his “Path to Prosperity” plan that cuts earned benefit programs like Social Security in a misguided effort to balance the federal budget, said, “Now, we’re going to give you a plan that shows you what we are for. Our ambition is a confident America where everyone has the chance to go out and succeed no matter where they start in life. That is the American idea.”
For die hard Republicans like Kasich and Ryan, their “timeless principles: liberty, free enterprise, consent of the governed” sound good on paper but have largely failed in real time to honor the hard work of workers over the tax privileges of the wealthiest. “It makes clear what needs to change. You will have a clear choice on poverty, jobs, taxes, security, health care and government itself.”
Ohio under Gov. Kasich has seen poverty rise, especially for children, and job growth stagnant even though Gov. Kasich has presided over a more than $5 billion give back in income tax cuts to the state’s wealthiest.