Aug. 23– COLUMBUS — Three of Gov. John Kasich’s GOP presidential opponents took aim directly and indirectly Saturday at a pair of his policies during a summit of Tea Party conservatives that didn’t invite the Ohio governor to the party in his own state.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry went after decisions by other governors to expand Medicaid and to defend Common Core standards at Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit.
Mr. Perry was the only one to specifically go after Ohio, without mentioning its governor by name. Mr. Kasich narrowly edged Mr. Perry in national polls earlier this month to qualify for the 10th and final spot on the Fox News prime-time debate held inCleveland.
” President Obama’s massive expansion of the broken Medicaid system under Obamacare — I opposed it from day one,” Mr. Perry said. “The same cannot be said for every governor in this race. The argument has been made that states should reclaim their share of federal dollars, but that begs the question: What about our children’s share of the federal debt?”
“Justifying Medicaid expansion on the grounds of returning federal money to your home state can only be done if you turn a blind eye to the fact that we are $18 trillion in debt,” he said. “The idea that Washington has this federal pot of Ohio Medicaid money that would have gone to some other state is just nonsense. … It is borrowed from bankers in China and children in Cleveland andColumbus.”
Mr. Kasich’s campaign spokesman fired back in a written statement released Saturday night.
” Rick Perry defended taking billions in Obama stimulus money to fill the Texas state budget holes caused by his own faulty projections, but now says using federal dollars to improve people’s health is bad? That kind of thinking is a reminder that not one person on that stage, nor likely in the entire room, has ever helped balance the federal budget. Only John Kasich has done that,”Rob Nichols said.
The convention also included a video celebrating how opponents turned back an effort to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. All three presidential contenders vowed to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.
This summit, Americans for Prosperity’s ninth, is its first in the “heartland.” The registered crowd of roughly 3,800 marked its largest turnout to date, although Saturday’s crowd was noticeably smaller than Friday’s.
The two-day, well-choreographed event at the downtown Columbus convention center had the high-tech feel of a small political convention and, in all, featured five GOP presidential contenders appealing for the conservative support of the self-proclaimed “freedom fighters” and “patriots.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal headlined Friday’s opening, but not every GOP presidential candidate was invited. Americans for Prosperity has declined to say who was invited and why some were not.
All three of the presidential contenders speaking Saturday vowed to end the Common Core K-12 educational standards that Mr. Kasich and Mr. Bush have defended against allegations that they represent a federal takeover of local schools.
“If you give the federal government the power to set curriculum, they will force the states to do it the way they want to do it or you won’t get money,” Mr. Rubio said. “And you know what that means to parents? If you don’t like what’s being taught in schools, you have to get on an airplane and fly to the Department of Education to lobby them instead of your school board member.”
The candidates and Americans for Prosperity staff took turns joking about Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’semail server and criticizing President Obama’s foreign policy, particularly the recently negotiated nuclear deal with Iran.
All three candidates talked about securing the nation’s borders. Mr. Perry noted that he’s the only one of the candidates to actually send National Guard to the Rio Grande to help do so.
Mr. Cruz called for closing the Internal Revenue Service and then jokingly suggested sending the agency’s employees to the Mexican border.
“Imagine you have traveled thousands of miles in the blazing sun, you’re swimming across the Rio Grande, and the first thing you see is 90,000 IRS agents,” he said. “You’d turn around and go home too.”
The convention sparked protests against Americans for Prosperity’s founders, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
“Their idea of the American dream is we do all the work and they sit in the high-life,” said AFL-CIO President Tim Burga at Friday’s rally of roughly 3,000 people.
“Well that’s wrong, sisters and brothers,” he said. “Let’s look at their plan to move America forward. Their plan is more tax breaks for the rich, golden parachutes for Wall Street, offshoring of our jobs. They want to take away collective bargaining. They want to take away prevailing wage. They don’t want us to have a defined retirement benefit. They have no empathy for others. Does this sound like the American dream to you?”
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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