It's Not Too Late to Get Behind Kasich

It's Not Too Late to Get Behind Kasich
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Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party—and the country. Mitt Romney and all those conservative and moderate Republicans who have been bemoaning the moral and political disaster that is Donald Trump must quickly rally around a single alternative candidate and launch a national write-in campaign for the November election.

By the process of elimination and electoral reality, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the most viable candidate. While he was running in the primaries, he consistently defeated Hillary Clinton in the national polls and in key states, drawing support not only from moderate and conservative Republicans, but also from blue-collar Democrats and independents. He would almost certainly win the critical state of Ohio and would have a fighting chance of winning Midwestern and Rust Belt states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Full disclosure: I was one of the 120 or so former defense officials who signed a letter strongly opposing Trump’s candidacy. After my first choice, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and then my second choice, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, dropped out, I moved to support Kasich (though I had also contributed to Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina).

I also joined the Delegates Unbound and Free the Delegates efforts to stop Trump at the Republican convention. The goal of those organizations was to utilize fair and democratic procedures under the existing rules of the Republican National Committee to allow delegates to vote their conscience or at least to present a minority report. All those efforts were stymied—steam-rolled would be a better term—by late-night pressure tactics, some in violation of the rules, from the Trump operatives, aided and abetted by RNC officials.

Kasich is not a perfect candidate (who is?) with his excess sentimentality and sometimes quirky demeanor (yet, in a “weird tic contest,” he would probably finish third to Trump and Hillary Clinton). But he has the tremendous advantage of coming across—and being—a normal, wholesome human being whose character is not defined by either greed or lust for political power. In the have-a-beer competition, Kasich would be the guy—and would share the laugh if he ate his pizza with a knife and fork instead of grabbing it in his mitt.

Given the mounting evidence that both Trump and Clinton would constitute serious security risks in office (she’s already done it, repeatedly over four years as secretary of state) and both demonstrate disqualifying character flaws, Kasich would be a refreshing, sober (even if sometimes boring) relief from the high drama of the Clinton and Trump scandals. And, not least in voters’ calculations, he has a proven record of legislative and executive experience—he actually knows how to govern. He probably won’t fulfill the fantasies of voters on the left or right who want a drastic political revolution, but they just may decide that prudent, evolutionary change—moderate conservatism in the spirit of Dwight Eisenhower and, yes, Ronald Reagan--is the better bet in the world we face today.

As for a Kasich running mate, who better than a fellow governor who, first, would add to the executive competence quotient, and, second, would have wide ethnic and gender appeal—say, a Susana Martinez of New Mexico or a Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Either would significantly offset Clinton’s blatant playing of the woman card. American women (and men) who justifiably want to see a female in the highest office of the land would certainly be willing to wait four or eight years for one who is honest, trustworthy, scandal-free—and would not bring to the White House a First Spouse who is himself steeped in personal and political ethical lapses.

As to the mechanics of the national write-in campaign, there are almost three dozen states representing a trove of electoral votes whose deadlines for registering as a write-in candidate remain open. But, to be successful, it would have to be a coherent, coordinated campaign centered on a single candidate, not a flurry of random write-in votes for a myriad of names enabling no one to win. So, for the reasons state above, Kasich has to be the one, joined by either Martinez or Haley.

It can’t be a draft movement—it’s too late for that. To qualify as a valid write-in candidate, the person has to personally sign whatever documents the relevant states require. So Kasich and Martinez or Haley have to be willing to go all in and join forces to save their party -- and truly, the country -- from the terrible choice of outcomes now confronting us.

The obvious questions: What if Kasich cannot win the 270 electoral votes needed? Won’t that throw the election to Clinton and the Democrats, and even endanger down-ballot Republicans? Well, Trump is already doing that on his own. But it would not be foreordained with the write-in campaign.

Kasich and his competent, ethnic, female running mate would have appeal across party, gender, and class lines, drawing heavily from traditional Democratic and independent voters. Conceivably, no one would win an electoral vote majority and the House of Representatives would choose from the top three candidates. It’s a good bet that Kasich would prevail in that contest over Trump and Clinton.

Some may consider the idea to be wishful, or even fantastical, thinking. But Republicans already face the Trump-Clinton worst-case scenario and desperate circumstances require desperate measures. Nor is a Kasich write-in win or dual blocking campaign entirely unrealistic—recall how close Ross Perot came in 1992 until his campaign self-destructed.

Yes, Perot was already on the ballot as opposed to voters having to write in Kasich’s name. But many states allow the use of pre-printed stickers. And John Kasich is no Ross Perot. He owes it to the country to try—and the rest of us owe him our support. Run, John, run!

Joseph Bosco is a graduate of Harvard Law School and U.S. Navy veteran who served as a former civilian adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is currently a nonresident senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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