Aug. 07– WASHINGTON — The top 10 Republican candidates for president, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, took to the stage Thursday for a two-hour prime time debate about foreign policy, abortion and more but the bombastic Donald Trump immediately stole the show.
The business tycoon and reality TV star kicked it off by being the only candidate who wouldn’t promise to support the eventual GOP nominee or pledge that he wouldn’t run as an independent.
He claimed that Democrat Hillary Clinton had to attend his wedding because he had made donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Trump, who has never held elected office, reiterated his position that Mexico is sending criminals over the U.S. border. “We need to build a wall. We need to keep illegals out,” he said.
Trump is capturing 25 percent of the likely GOP primary voters at this stage in the race, according to a poll released this week by University of Akron and Zogby Analytics.
Kasich, who squeaked into the debate at the last minute by cracking the top 10 list, grabbed just seven minutes of airtime and spent it jamming in talking points about his record, mentioning multiple times that his dad was a mailman, reacting to a question about gay marriage and defending his decision to expand Medicaid.
“I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what, to treat the mentally ill, 10,000 of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison. I’d rather get them their medications so they can lead a decent life,” he said of the decision to expand Medicaid, which added 500,000 to the program in Ohio.
At one point, Kasich was asked about Trump’s comments on Mexico.
” Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country,” Kasich said. “People are frustrated, they’re fed up. They don’t think the government is working for them. And for people who just want to tune him out, they’re making a mistake. He has his solutions. Some of us have other solutions.”
At another point, Kasich was asked how the GOP candidate should take on former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, assuming she will be the Democratic nominee. His answer: grow the economy.
“Economic growth is the key to everything. Once you have economic growth it is important that we reach out to the people who live in the shadows, the people who don’t seem to ever think they get a fair deal,” he said. “America is a miracle country. And we have to restore this sense that the miracle will apply to you. Every one of the people in this country who is watching tonight, lift everybody, unite everybody and build a stronger United States of America. It will be and it can be done.”
Kasich reiterated his call for unity when asked about gay marriage and how he would react if one of his daughters were gay. “If one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them. I would accept them,” said Kasich, who noted he recently went to a gay wedding.
The prime-time debaters included three sitting governors, three sitting senators, a brain surgeon, a reality TV show star and two former governors: Trump, Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired surgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
They sparred for two hours before an audience of 5,000 in downtown Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena, aka The Q, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the site of the 2016 RNC political convention. FoxNews broadcast the debate live and it aired on WHIO Radio AM1290 and News 95.7. Hundreds of journalists from around the world covered the much-hyped debate. A 90-minute debate among seven second-tier candidates preceded the prime time event.
The Republican contenders attacked Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the Affordable Care Act, illegal immigration, Planned Parenthood and abortion, and the Iran nuclear weapons deal.
Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, had this analysis on the Ohio governor’s performance: “Kasich handled an inevitable question about Medicaid expansion in a humble, non-confrontational way. That could have been a land mine for him. Otherwise, there were so many candidates on stage and so much time between answers that it was hard for any of the candidates to stand out a ton, including Kasich. It was a decent performance for him but he also probably didn’t stand out from the pack. So, for Kasich it’s on to the next debate — and toNew Hampshire.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R- Miami Twp., who attended the debate, said Kasich had a strong performance and told the Ohio story. He also said that during commercial breaks and off-camera, the candidates were “chatting and talking as if they were friends.”
the Democratic National Convention announced a slate of six presidential primary debates, starting with the first on Oct. 13 in Nevada. None will be in Ohio.Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D- Youngstown, said the Republican candidates are auditioning for billionaire donors to back their campaigns but they lack specific plans for creating jobs for everyday Americans.
“If you want to talk about helping people in Cuyahoga County and helping people in Ohio, it can’t be a big fight about the billionaires or who is going to cut more taxes and who is going to deal with these social issues. This is about economics. This is about jobs,” Ryan said. “This is about manufacturing. This is about making things in the United States again.”
He added, “All the average person wants here in Ohio is an opportunity to make a living. To make a living in a job in which their wages will increase, they’ll have secure health care, they’ll have a pension and they won’t have to work 80 hours a week to where they miss the (kids’) soccer match or miss the baseball game.”
Ohio Republicans said they do not believe Trump will be their party’s nominee.
“It’s not going to be Donald Trump,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges.
“The fact that he is doing as well as he is, it certainly shows that the American people are very, very upset and certainly a significant population is upset,” saidOhio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who was at the debate arena on Thursday. “I think you have an electorate that is not very happy and some of them have decided that the best way to express that is to be for Donald Trump without, I think, fully knowing what he really stands for.”
(c)2015 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.