Indiana and Ohio share a common border. Their respective governors, Michael Richard Pence in Indiana and John Richard Kasich in Ohio, also share the same middle name.
They also share virtually identical governing philosophies and program policies, that have consistently put laws into place that hurt workers and women, suppress voting, reward the wealthy with more tax cuts and attack public schools, among other retrograde political initiatives.
After years in office as state CEOs, Indiana and Ohio’s leaders have produced mediocre results at best, even though each enjoys a GOP-led legislature that with few exceptions cater to their political and personal interests and needs.
The key difference today between these new-day, new-way Republicans is simple: one refuses to say a kind word about Donald Trump, who will walk away in Cleveland next with the Republican nomination for president. The other has been vetted by Team Trump and is the Donald vice presidential running mate.
Gov. Kasich’s chief 2016 campaign strategist called Gov. Pence “a guy without a scandal.” John Weaver, who could only help Gov. Kasich win one out of 50 state GOP primaries, called Gov.Pence a decent man. “It’s like the safest of safe choices, but it doesn’t change the electoral map at all,” he said, the Dayton Daily News reported.
Mike Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, while Gov. Kasich governs from Columbus. Both were raised in Democratic families but broke Republican. Both served in the House of Representatives, Kasich for 18 years and Pence for 12 years. Mr. Pence, 57 years old, is an attorney who served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011. Mr. Kasich, 64 years old, is a performance politician who once wanted to become a Catholic priest but found fame and fortune in elected office—including a stint chairing the House Budget Committee in the late 1990s—far more alluring and lucrative.
Republicans are gearing up for their national nominating convention in Ohio starting Monday that could further fracture the already dysfunctional party even more, as many Republicans either shun it or drag their feet on support for Mr. Trump, who has weathered an attempt by GOP renegades to free delegates to vote their conscience. Democrats will meet the following week in Philadelphia to nominate their presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Democrats have pounced on Mr. Trump’s pick of Pence pick for his VP. In a statement released Friday from John Podesta, chair of Hillary for America, Gov. Pence was keel hauled for his past record that differs only in minuscule detail from that of Gov. Kasich.
“By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families.”
Team Clinton said the Hoosier State governor is the most extreme pick in a generation, reminding voters that as an early advocate for the Tea Party he was the first of GOP leadership to join Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus. John Kasich resigned his seat in Congress in 2000 to run for president. After that effort flopped, Mr. Kasich signed up with Fox News and worked at a Wall Street banker for Lehman Brothers, where he learned the value of leveraging that he used to sell Ohio liquor profits to create a stream of revenue for his pet project, JobsOhio, that turned Ohio’s formerly public job creation group into his hand-picked, secret operation that has hasn’t been able to meet the national job creation average for 40-plus months.
As governor, Mike Pence personally spearheaded an anti-LGBT law that legalized discrimination against the LGBT community, he alienated businesses, caused boycotts, lost investments and embarrassed Hoosiers with a law he was later forced to revise. Like Kasich in Ohio, Pence was a key leader in the fight to defund Planned Parenthood. Gov. Pence fought to pass Indiana’s 2016 anti-abortion law, which contained some of the most outrageous restrictions in the country that threatened women’s privacy and limited their choice. John Kasich signed into laws that also threatened women by limiting their constitutional right to an abortion.
On comprehensive immigration reform, Gov. Pence has a bad record. Gov. Kasich refused to accept any refugees from Syria, and has little to show on the topic other than saying he wouldn’t pursue Donald Trump’s idea to export illegal aliens.
Indiana and Ohio workers, especially union workers, have much to fear from both state leaders. Mr. Pence like Mr. Kasich opposes raising the federal minimum wage, going so far as to sign a law allowing skilled workers in Indiana to be paid less. Indiana incomes have stalled at 38th in the nation. In Ohio under Gov. Kasich, real median household income is now 7.32 percent lower than it was in 2005. Both states have much to do to become a top economic performer, according to a CNBC score card on economic performance.
Camp Clinton will make the case that a Trump-Pence ticket represents a dramatic contrast to their candidate and her campaign. “Hillary Clinton’s vision of our future – one where we are stronger together, where unity prevails over division and the economy works for all Americans, not just those at the top,” is their core case.
One Republican strategist who has worked for Ohio GOP officeholders, complimented Pence as “a well-known and respected conservative with executive experience who knows how to get things done in D.C.” That was Gov. Kasich’s line as well, but he’s little more than a sideshow now.
Republicans are clearly in buyer’s remorse for their electorate’s choice of Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Republican strategist Jeff Sadosky said picking Pence will do nothing to ease the concerns many Republicans have about the top of the ticket. “Quite frankly, I doubt there’s anyone on this planet he could have chosen as a vice presidential nominee who could have.”
Other reports by the AP have shown how at odds the two men are over key issues. Donald Trump was “pro-choice in every respect” while Gov. Pence compared abortion to the tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On gay Americans, Pence opposed providing them with the protection of anti-discrimination laws while Mr. Trump declared that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needed to protect gay rights in the workplace. The Donald applauded state lawsuits against big tobacco companies while Mr. Pence declared that “smoking doesn’t kill.”
On Saturday after Donald Trump made a public announcement about picking Mike Pence, the Clinton campaign weigh-ed in on it. “We were prepared to respond with the many ways in which Mike Pence is the most extreme pick in a generation—a doubling down of Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies,” Deputy Communications Director Christina Reynolds said. “But after publicly waffling over his own choice, Trump spent more time today making false attacks on Hillary Clinton—several of which could also be leveled against Pence—and talking about his own businesses than his own running mate. It turns out, you can force Trump to make a choice and give him a speech, he’s always going to be Trump.”
Gov. John Kasich’s guitar will gently weep in Cleveland next week as Trump commands center stage while the ex-Fox News political talk show host is relegated to off-site events. Mike Pence will gladly play rhythm guitar in Trump’s band. Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will be rocked—and not in a good way—by the new duo, Donald Trump and Mike Pence.