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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our choice for the GOP nomination

Telegraph Editorial

The Republican presidential field includes four current or former governors (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich), four sitting or former U.S. senators (Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum), along with a former CEO (Carly Fiorina), a neurosurgeon (Dr. Ben Carson) and a real estate mogul (Donald Trump.)

The senators we met in this campaign season were impressive, and several of them reminded us that we live in dangerous times. Fiorina - who was plenty impressive in her own right - reminded the country of that, too, at a debate in Las Vegas last month when the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said, "And to wage war, we need a commander-in-chief who has made tough calls in tough times and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who've never made an executive decision in their life." ...

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The Republican presidential field includes four current or former governors (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich), four sitting or former U.S. senators (Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum), along with a former CEO (Carly Fiorina), a neurosurgeon (Dr. Ben Carson) and a real estate mogul (Donald Trump.)

The senators we met in this campaign season were impressive, and several of them reminded us that we live in dangerous times. Fiorina - who was plenty impressive in her own right - reminded the country of that, too, at a debate in Las Vegas last month when the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said, "And to wage war, we need a commander-in-chief who has made tough calls in tough times and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who've never made an executive decision in their life."

Ouch.

Still, she had a point.

Cruz, Paul and Rubio are all in their first terms in the Senate, which makes them relatively inexperienced and gives them something in common with Barack Obama when he was first elected.

Of the 44 men to be elected president, 17 had previously served as governor of their state, Thomas Jefferson being the first and George W. Bush the most recent. In between were men like James Monroe, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. When each man entered the White House, it wasn't his first time as a government chief executive. Electing a governor as president doesn't guarantee success, but previous experience may have had something to do with the accomplishments those former governors had running the country.

We think executive experience matters. For that reason, we lean toward governors, and it's Kasich, we think, who offers the best chance to move the country in the right direction, because he is the only candidate in the Republican field with a mix of legislative and executive experience.

Kasich spent 18 years as a member of Congress, where he served on the Armed Forces Committee the whole time and chaired the powerful House Budget Committee for six years. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 was passed on his watch with his input and support.

Then he did something extraordinary: He opted not to become a congressional lifer, evidence that while Kasich was indoctrinated in the Washington culture, he was not infected by it.

After a stint in business and as a talking head on Fox News, Kasich ran for governor of Ohio and defeated a Democratic incumbent who left behind a budget deficit estimated between $6 billion and $8 billion. Kasich turned it into a $2 billion surplus and did it while cutting income taxes to boot.

Ohio has thrived under Kasich, who is a conservative but lacks the stridency of a Ted Cruz or the bombast of Donald Trump.

Rather, Kasich is a pragmatic problem-solver who looks first for conservative, common-sense solutions. Case in point: When asked by The Telegraph's editorial board how he would fight the nation's opioid crisis, Kasich pointed out that being governor taught him that it's a lot cheaper to treat addicts than to imprison them. That's not a strictly Republican solution, but it's a sensible one.

He also understands that our national security is fundamentally tied to our economic growth and that the ocean of government red ink in which Americans are swimming is really a riptide that serves as a drag on the economy and, if not curbed, will eventually undermine the readiness of our military.

Because he has both an executive and legislative background, Kasich strikes us as the candidate most likely to bridge the executive-congressional divide to reduce the federal debt, strengthen the military and put our economy on sound footing. In an era when the White House and Congress often seem to be on different planets, getting the two branches of government to work together would be a refreshing change.

John Kasich represents the best chance to do that, and we endorse him as the Republican nominee for president.