CINCINNATI – Ohio’s starring role as a presidential swing state could also earn supporting roles for state politicians on this year’s presidential tickets.
Having ended his own presidential campaign, Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) has joined Ohio’s U.S. senators among those often mentioned as potential running mates.
Kasich, Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, all experienced politicians and government officials from the purple state, make “Veepstakes” lists being reported by national news outlets and have been repeatedly questioned publicly about their possible interest. While presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton likely will also consider candidates that could add ethnic or gender diversity to their tickets, the Ohioans are getting vice president buzz, too.
Kyle Kondik, author of an upcoming book “The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President,” said all three have their strong points.
“They would be effective surrogates for their nominees on the campaign trail and useful governing partners,” said Kondik, who is also the communications director for the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “And, by the way, might provide a couple points in Ohio, which obviously is very important.”
There are also reasons weighing against each.
RESUME: Second-term governor. Former state senator; congressman elected nine times; host of Fox News show. Age 64.
WHY HE COULD BE VP: Extensive government experience, including as House budget chairman; got favorable reviews with his “the adult in the room” style and positive campaign message; high favorability in home state; Trump has spoken positively about him; former candidate Ben Carson, helping with Trump’s vice presidential search, recently told The Washington Post that Kasich was among those on their list.
WHY NOT: He and Trump ran against each other on dramatically different messages, with Trump capitalizing on voter anger; Kasich has balked at endorsing Trump. Some conservatives criticize him for support of Common Core education standards and expanding Medicaid in Ohio under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
WHAT HE SAYS: “No, I’m not inclined to do that. I’m not, no,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last week about accepting a vice president invitation.
RESUME: First-term senator. Former congressman elected seven times; White House budget director; U.S. trade representative. Age 60.
WHY HE COULD BE VP: Broad Washington experience, including in two White House administrations; has helped last three GOP nominees with debate preparation, was on 2012 nominee Mitt Romney’s short list. Former Vice President Dan Quayle named him when asked this month on NBC’s “Today” show about Trump’s best choice; Trump also has praised Portman.
WHY NOT: With Republican control of the Senate at stake, Portman is in a tough re-election race this year against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, himself a subject of Democratic running mate talk in 2008. Portman’s chances likely would be hurt by having him diverted to other states for national ticket needs.
WHAT HE SAYS: “No, he (Trump) has plenty of different people to choose from. My focus is … Ohio, making a difference for the people that I represent and that’s what I’m going to continue to focus on,” Portman told The Associated Press last week.
Resume: Second-term senator. Former congressman, Ohio secretary of state, state legislator. Age 63.
WHY HE COULD BE VP: Liberal record for helping Hillary Clinton appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters; long record of opposition to trade deals that could draw blue-collar workers who might be considering Trump; skilled campaigner with four decades of experience. The New York Times reported last month that Clinton campaign and Democratic insiders say he’s among those the Clintons have discussed as a running mate. In Columbus on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said: “I think he’d be a great choice.”
WHY NOT: Clintons have historically run well in Ohio. More importantly, Brown’s election would mean the Republican governor would get to choose someone to fill his Senate seat at a time Democrats are battling to add seats to regain a majority.
WHAT HE SAYS: “I have no interest in being vice president … I love what I get to do in the Senate. It’s a great honor. I have no higher ambition,” Brown told AP in March.
Carr Smyth reported from Columbus.