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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Has John Kasich succeeded in changing his reputation?

Heading into another important week in the 2016 Republican presidential race, with Donald Trump holding a 250+ delegate lead, many are wondering what will eventually happen to recently departed Marco Rubio’s 164 delegates.

There’s no easy answer. Even if/when Rubio officially releases his delegates and endorses one of the remaining John Kasichcandidates, his votes won’t necessarily automatically go to that person.

Eliana Johnson of National Review writes, “The 164 delegates Rubio racked up during his campaign could become the focus of a tug-of-war between the remaining candidates at a contested convention in July. But as with so much in the 2016 primary, it’s complicated: While those delegates can be courted by the remaining candidates at any point … state party rules vary on when they become free to cast their votes for somebody aside from Rubio, even if he isn’t officially nominated in Cleveland.

“Broadly speaking, there are three tiers of delegates: those freed immediately upon Rubio’s withdrawal from the race; those freed after a certain number of ballots at the national convention; and those freed once Rubio officially releases them, which could conceivably never happen.”

Johnson outlines the likely fate of Rubio’s delegates in a few separate scenarios. It’s truly amazing how different the rules are in each state. No wonder campaign lawyers are always busy.

Of course the campaigns themselves are very interested in Rubio’s delegates, particularly Ted Cruz’s. Cruz and Rubio are friends and Marco’s hinted at an endorsement of Ted, though nothing official has been announced. There apparently has been some discussion between the two campaigns about Rubio’s delegates as well.

Cruz is also actively recruiting Rubio’s former supporters.

Katie Glueck of Politico reports, “Even before Rubio formally exited the race, Cruz’s team was communicating with donors and other prominent Rubio supporters — Cruz senior foreign policy adviser Victoria Coates, for example, was checking in with people like prominent Bush administration figure and Rubio backer Elliott Abrams…

“The Cruz campaign’s hope is twofold: that the calendar going forward, which features many closed primaries in which only Republicans can vote, will be friendly terrain as they seek to mobilize conservatives; and that he will be boosted by an influx of supporters who previously backed other candidates, like Rubio.”

Cruz’s main selling point to the Rubio people is he’s the only candidate left who can stop Donald Trump from taking the party nomination. It appears to be working in many cases. Even Mitt Romney said he’d be voting for Ted Cruz in Utah and urged other Republicans to do the same since John Kasich doesn’t have a realistic chance to stop Trump.

Romney’s go-ahead may not have helped Cruz had it come months ago but should be valuable now. There is a sizable Mormon population in Arizona as well as in Utah, so with its closed Republican primary, a Romney-endorsement could make a small but important difference in the overall contest there.

The race for delegates will be intense from here on out. Tomorrow’s vote in Utah and Arizona will be an important marker on whether Cruz can seriously challenge Trump’s lead a little further down the road.

Has John Kasich succeeded in changing his reputation?

It’s safe to say some candidates adopt (or try to) different public personas when they run for office. For example, from what I understand, Donald Trump is actually much different in person than he comes across in debates and sometimes in speeches.

Trump is universally described as exceptionally gracious away from the microphones and cameras (and now, Twitter access). But flip on the bright light switch and “The Donald” emerges. Some people like him, some don’t. But it is what it is.

In contrast to Trump, Ted Cruz has often said what you see in public is the person he is. Like with Trump, from what I understand, Cruz is very likable in person, if just a little intense.

John Kasich, on the other hand, has gone out of his way this campaign to depict himself as “the adult in the room,” often criticizing his fellow competitors on stage for their tone during debates, calling for “unity” and backing away on numerous occasions from opportunities to “attack” opponents.

In other words, Kasich has tried hard to make himself into the “nice guy” in the race. He’s avoided public clashes with Trump and rarely talks about his fellow competitors – to their face at least. He no doubt is trying to foster an image in people’s minds, that of a man who is calm in the face of the craziness of modern politics and social media.

There’s only one problem: it’s all a ruse. The John Kasich you see in 2016 doesn’t match his reputation with people who know him.

Leon H. Wolf of RedState reports, “One of the most nauseating and transparently fake things to come down the pike in a long time is John Kasich’s nice guy act. Kasich is one of the most notorious jerks in the history of Washington, DC, which is a town full of jerks. To paraphrase the Big Lebowski, that places him high on the list of jerks worldwide.”

To bolster his point, Wolf presents a video of Kasich talking publicly about a traffic stop in 2008 where after the fact he calls the officer in question an “idiot” and tries to draw parallels between his experience then and all of us who’ve received what we thought were unfair tickets.

I can just see people nodding in agreement, “Yeah, I was pulled over that time in California and it was a total set-up.”

That’s not the end of the story, however. The entire scene was recorded on video and audio that contradicts Kasich’s version of the story. Pictures and sounds don’t lie, at least when taken together. It clearly wasn’t the cop who was the idiot on that day – it was Kasich. And to make matters worse, he lied about it.

Wolf continues, “John Kasich is not the dopey, benevolent uncle he is currently pretending to be on the campaign trail. He is an unrepentant a**hole whose only shot at the nomination is convincing the RNC to rip it away from Trump and/or Cruz and give it to him in spite of the fact that he’s been in dead last almost everywhere.”

Wolf’s harsh words regarding Kasich came as a bit of a surprise to me. Up until now, I was unaware of the Ohio governor’s sinister dual persona. But digging a little deeper, it appears to be true.

Last summer there was this piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer with Kasich addressing the “jerk” accusations, and then there’s a Politico treatment from a little over a month ago detailing how Kasich has successfully transformed his personality in this year’s presidential race, going from brash straight-talking “jerk” to sunny-all-the-time nice guy.

It’s hard to say where the truth lies. I can easily see how people see Kasich as a jerk. At times he’s come across as more than a little nutty in debates – especially the early ones, before his “optimism” started taking over in November.

I will add Kasich enjoys a favorable rating in his home state and managed to win in Ohio last Tuesday by a convincing margin. People always say those who are closest to us know us best.

But here’s thinking the “other” side of Kasich will be getting more airtime in the weeks to come, especially if it looks like the Ohio governor is just staying in the race to, for lack of a better way to put it, be a “jerk.”

Kasich stabs fellow Republicans in the back, says Obama Supreme Court nominee deserves consideration

I don’t know if it fits in the “nice guy” or “jerk” category, but wishy-washy John Kasich said over the weekend that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee should get a fair shake from Republicans in the Senate.

Dan Friedman of the Washington Examiner reports Kasich said in an interview with CBS, “Frankly they probably ought to all sit down and meet with the guy…Whoever gets elected president should be in a position to be able to pick, you know, who they want and the American people will either decide by voting for a Republican or Democrat what the makeup of the court is.”

Kasich went on to say he would consider appointing Merrick Garland (Obama’s nominee) if he were president, because Garland received healthy bipartisan support when Bill Clinton nominated him to the Federal Appeals Court in the late 90’s.

I’m not sure how past Senate support makes someone qualified for Supreme Court consideration under the present circumstances, but it sounds nice to the media interviewers, doesn’t it?

As I’ve argued on several occasions, who you would nominate as judges or Justices reveals a lot about your ideological makeup. The fact Kasich admits he would consider appointing someone based on political considerations speaks volumes about his lack of spine as well as his sketchy value system.

Further, the one time Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republican leadership takes a principled stand, Kasich refuses to support it.

To the extent a man like Justice Antonin Scalia could ever be “replaced” on the Court, the future nominee will need to have a demonstrated record of adherence to the original meaning of the Constitution, as Scalia did.

I haven’t personally examined Garland’s record, but it’s highly doubtful in my mind that any modern Democrat would see it that way. Nothing else matters except the nominee’s record – so what difference does it make if there are “interviews” in the Senate or not?

John Kasich’s own record indicates he supports the GOP leadership when they cave to Obama on big government initiatives, but doesn’t back them when they stand up to the president on crucial Court nominees. That’s a huge hint as to how Kasich would act as president.

He’s clearly not a principled conservative and “nice guy” or not, doesn’t belong in consideration for the Republican nomination.

Trump campaign manager’s latest tussle puts The Donald on defense

Finally today, last week we saw how Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was characteristic of the goon mentality that pervades the Trump operation.

Well, Lewandowski was at it again over the weekend, this time being caught on tape grabbing a protestor (from behind) at a Trump rally.

Jessie Hellman of The Hill reports on Trump’s reaction, “Donald Trump is giving his top campaign aide ‘credit for having spirit’ after Corey Lewandowski was involved in an incident with a protester at one of the GOP presidential front-runner's rallies.

“’I give him credit for having spirit. He wanted them to take down those horrible, profanity-laced signs,’ Trump said on ABC's ‘This Week’ on Sunday. ‘The police were a little bit lax, and he had signs. They had signs up in that arena that were horrendous.’”

At least this time it wasn’t a girl Lewandowski was pushing around.

In all seriousness, this thuggish behavior on the part of Lewandowski is becoming a serious problem for Trump. Not only does it shine a bright spotlight on Trump’s poor choice in cohorts, it also gets the media fixated on the increasing level of violence surrounding his campaign.

Needless to say, beating up protestors could have civil and potentially criminal implications.

Trump needs to dump Lewandowski before these incidents embarrass the candidate even further. We all know he’s very well versed at saying “You’re fired!” – it’s time The Donald put his stock phrase to good use in his own campaign.

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