How important politically is Ohio? Of the nation’s first 10 Republican presidents, seven of them — from Ulysses Grant to Warren Harding — were native sons of Ohio. In fact, no Republican has ever won the White House who did not first carry Ohio. And in the most recent 13 presidential elections, Ohio has voted for the winning White House candidate.
Yes, it is true that, as a political reporter, you do find yourself liking some people you cover a lot more than you like others.
It first hit me on a Tuesday morning in March at a Washington presidential forum sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters. One 2016 White House contender spoke the following: “We’ve seen over the past number of years two Americas emerge. At the very top, top 1 percent today, with the largest federal government we’ve ever had, the top 1 percent earn a higher share of our income (than at any time) since 1928.”
In the important matter of choosing their parties’ presidential nominees, Republicans and Democrats have behaved entirely differently. Republicans have preferred their presidential candidates to be familiar and well-credentialed and to have previously run well, if unsuccessfully, for the nomination.
Haley Barbour, the former two-term governor of Mississippi and, before that, successful Republican Party chairman, is a candid and witty man who, in newspaper slang, “gives a great quote.”
William McGurn is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal who, according to his company bio, “writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush.” McGurn is, from all indications, quite a smart man, but he recently wrote something both ignorant and mean-spirited that I cannot let go uncorrected.
When Democratic presidential candidates have campaigned in Los Angeles, it has usually been around a private fundraising event featuring Barbra Streisand or Steven Spielberg or George Clooney — or some combination of the three.
Presidential debates, even those with 10 candidates held some 15 months before Election Day, do matter. Just recall the Aug. 11, 2011, GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, when Byron York of The Washington Examiner, in discussing the proposed combinations of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the federal budget deficit, asked former Sen. Rick Santorum: “Is there any ratio of (spending) cuts to (increasing) taxes that you would accept — 3-to-1, 4-to-1 or even 10-to-1?” Santorum replied, “No.”
In five of the past six presidential elections, the Republican Party has lost the nation’s popular vote to the Democrats. In those same six presidential contests, 18 states and the District of Columbia, totaling among them 242 electoral votes (you need only 270 to win the White House), have voted every time for the Democratic ticket.
In the matter of selecting a 2016 presidential nominee, the Republican Party could go a lot farther and do a lot worse — and almost certainly will — than to choose U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.