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Ohio Governor John Kasich on 2016

Tuesday, December 16, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Ohio’s ebullient Governor John Kasich joined me to start today’s show.




HH: I’m pleased to welcome back to the program the governor of the Buckeye State, Governor John Kasich. Governor, Merry Christmas to you.

JK: Merry Christmas to you, Hugh.

HH: You snuck in and out of Arizona last week before I even noticed that you were flying into the Desert State, or I would have come over to interview you. What is that Flying Wedge campaign all about?

JK: Well, you know, I’ve been concerned for many years, even from the beginning of my career when I was really young about the need to balance the budget. And I spent ten years of my life working to get it done in Washington. But you come to realize that moments in time are not good enough. So we’re not a bit over $18 trillion dollars in the hole, and I don’t care whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or somebody that just doesn’t care. Those kind of numbers are staggering, and they have profound implications for our country if in fact we don’t begin to deal with this. So I actually believe that without a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, I think Congress will continue to do the things they do, where at moments in time they may do the right thing. But Hugh, you can’t operate a government where you don’t have any financial stability. You couldn’t operate a business that way. You can’t operate a family that way. And I am extremely concerned. I think this is the most important thing that we can get done now, is to force them to balance their budget. You know, if we didn’t have that requirement in Ohio, I’m sure that we would still be in the hole, and politicians would dodge and figure out how to get away with making choices. But once you have to make that choice, I think it would begin to lock things into place and bring great improvement to our country. Continue Reading

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Jeb, Ted, and the 2016 GOP Demolition Derby

Tuesday, December 16, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush formed his exploratory committee today, and as both Eliana Johnson at National Review and Tim Alberta at National Journal reported yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz has all but entered the lists.  (The diner conversation I moderated for the group that met with Senator Cruz was off-the-record, but not the dinner happening itself.  The senator and I in fact discussed it on air before it convened.)  No, I am not “in Cruz’s camp” as more than a few listeners have written me since these articles appeared.  I am in “no camp” but eager to hear them all and introduce any of them that head west to friends and fellow conservatives.

Governor Bush will not doubt be a topic on today’s show, even though my guests include Governor Kasich of Ohio and Senator-elect Tom Cotton who was named to the Armed Services, Banking and Intelligence Committees yesterday in a display of great judgment by Leader McConnell and his team.  So will be Senator Thune’s surprising “wait a minute” yesterday, But the key to the 2016 race is found deep in the Rockefeller bio I interviewed author Richard Norton Smith about yesterday (see below): Nobody knows anything at this point about how voters will be feeling in February 2016 after eight or nine debates and a couple of thousand eight hour news cycles, and the only way to win is to run.  Hard.  From the start.


Talking Rocky and Ted Cruz With Richard Norton Smith

Monday, December 15, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

If you missed my Monday program with Richard Norton Smith which was largely devoted to his new book Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms, you missed a wonderful show and an education in the GOP wars of 50 years ago –and today.  Thus the audio and transcript below are an early Christmas present to you:






HH: Today, I’m joined for the entire show by my friend, Richard Norton Smith, whom many of you hear every President’s Day in a show that we taped years ago talking about all the presidents. Richard, of course, is the extraordinarily gifted presidential historian and a biographer of Thomas Dewey and Robert McCormick, as well as Herbert Hoover and George Washington. He is the official historian of C-SPAN, he’s been my friend of 40 years. And Richard, welcome, it’s great to speak to you about your brand new book, On His Own Terms: A Life Of Nelson Rockefeller, good to have you.

RNS: Well, and Merry Christmas.

HH: Merry Christmas to you. This is a terrific book. And I’m going to quote Nelson Rockefeller on Page 255 of your book.

RNS: And that’s something you don’t do as a rule.

HH: No, I don’t. I wrote this down as soon as I saw it. The best way to read a book is to get an author to tell you about it. But dyslexia is at the heart of this book…

RNS: Yeah.

HH: And I think that’s one of the reasons he liked to talk about books with authors.

RNS: Yeah, and it’s one of those humanizing details that he shied away from during his lifetime. He was of that generation of men, well, you know, he’s a classic illustration of how the very rich get the worst medical treatment.

HH: Yes.

RNS: You know, he had this osteopath who was a sidekick, and an occasional procurer, but, well, Nelson probably would not have died when he did if he’d had a different medical regimen. But dyslexia was something, it’s interesting, because it did shape his life in ways that were profound. He, first of all, he never heard the word until he was 50 years old. And it’s, you know, it’s interesting, doing a life of Nelson Rockefeller, it’s not your conventional political biography. Continue Reading

Nelson Rockefeller And Ted Cruz; Barry Goldwater And Chris Christie: The GOP Then And Now

Sunday, December 14, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Monday Washington Examiner column is on how the incoming Senate, specifically Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley, ought to deal with judicial nominees for the 24 months left in President Obama’s vast misadventure of a presidency.

Right now Texas Senator Ted Cruz is back at center stage, enraging his Democratic colleagues (and a few Republicans), poised, as National Review’s Eliana Johnson notes Monday morning, at the starting line of a run for the presidency, and serving as an life-sized omen that the high political drama that marked the Republican Party politics of 1958 to 1968 have returned in all their glory and turbulence.  (I can confirm I did attend the dinner Eliana reports on, as a moderator of the off-the-record discussion after the senator was on my radio show.)

Which is why Monday’s show with historian and author Richard Norton Smith should not be missed by anyone interested in 2016, no matter who they are backing.  Smith’s brand new and epic “Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms” is a riveting and wildly entertaining bio-pic of a book, one covering most of the first three-quarters of the 20th century through the lens of the life of leading man Nelson Rockefeller and with the settings in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., Albany and vast stretches of South America. (Learning how Manhattan grew from the ’30s through the capture of the U.N.is a book within a book, as is the brief education in The Standard Oil Company.)

It is also a preview of coming attractions for the GOP as the race for the 2016 presidential nomination opens early in 2015.

Cruz is very much the combative, principled conservative, but perhaps much more Reagan than the Goldwater-like figure liberals, MSM and establishment Republicans want to make him.  Chris Christie, while New Jersey’s and not the Empire State’s governor, is the combative centrist, the same space occupied by Rockefeller beginning with his election as New York’ governor in 1958 though Christie’s fidelity to his beloved Mary Pat is the opposite of Rocky’s treatment of his first wife Tod.  Those camps and their leaders clashed often and bitterly for over a decade, and never really made peace until Ronald Reagan named George H.W, Bush as his Veep in 1980.  That treaty broke up years ago, and 2016’s gathering in Cleveland could be as dramatic as 1964’s Cow Palace convention, the proceedings of which open Smith’s book first chapter before the book begins its sweeping narrative of Rockefeller’s life which began on July 8, 1908 and which would include an epilogue as an appointed Vice President under Gerald Ford before his death in early 1979.

Richard Nixon first held his party together in 1960 even as Rockefeller battled not only Goldwater forces but also the Eisenhower-era establishment, and then Nixon put it back together again after the electoral catastrophe of 1964 on his way to a narrow win and a center-right GOP in 1968.  In the Nixon space as we enter 2015 are any number of would-be presidents, and not far removed from any camp are the William Scranton/George Romney figures of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Scott Walker.  (Mitt Romney, of course, if he runs again, will be replaying the resurrection and return story of RN, with his supporters arguing that Republicans cannot afford a 1964 collapse after eight years of President Obama and with Hillary looming.)

Whomever you support and whatever you think of Senator Cruz et al, reading Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms will prepare you for the dramatic clash of all the factions of the GOP coming at the party in 2015 and 2016.  The book is a joy to read and as excellent an education in the history of the 20th century GOP, the country as a whole, as well as of a great American family and its favorite, flawed but brilliant son as any you will find.   Join me Monday for an extended conversation with Richard Norton Smith.


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