Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich told a group of local Republicans last night that he knows just what Ohio needs to bring it out of its economic swoon: lower taxes, less business regulation, and better public education.
Mr. Kasich, a former nine-term congressman from Ohio and ex-Fox News Channel host, said that if elected governor next year, he would work to abolish the state's "death tax," phase out the income tax, "fix the regulators," and reform public education with more school choice.
"Taxes are punishing small business and pushing people out of the state," he told a sold-out gathering at the Lucas County Republican Party Lincoln Day
Dinner in Gladieux Meadows hall in South Toledo.
Mr. Kasich leveled sharp criticism at Gov. Ted Strickland, calling him a "caretaker governor" who was using chicanery to give the strapped state "a budget that's jerry-rigged, smoke and mirrors, and it is not going to work."
But he acknowledged that over the years, he had seen Republican big spenders too. He told how once, when George H.W. Bush was president, he got a call from Vice President Dan Quayle telling him the president was angry with him for his persistence in trying to balance the budget.
In 1997, he said, Congress presented President Bill Clinton with a balanced budget. "They saw we were serious about shrinking government, cutting taxes, and paying down debt. In the 1990s and early 2000s, your 401(k)s were going up, and we can do it again," he told his audience of 300.
The well-known conservative's visit did not escape the notice of the Lucas County Democratic Party, which issued a press release yesterday noting that Mr. Kasich had joined Lehman Brothers Holdings as a managing director in 2001 shortly after leaving Congress.
"As John Kasich visits Toledo today, we invite him to discuss his career on Wall Street," the release quoted Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler as saying. "In the race for governor, Ohioans have a choice between someone who was a managing director at a Wall Street firm whose collapse led to our economic crisis and Gov. Strickland, who is working to turn our economy around, create jobs, and invest in our children's future."
Kasich supporters have argued that he was never involved in the underwriting or marketing of mortgage-backed securities, which forced Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy in September.
Mr. Kasich had high praise for state Sen. Mark Wagoner and state Rep. Barbara Sears, Republicans, respectively, from Ottawa Hills and Sylvania. He said they would be players in "restoring the economic vitality that used to represent the state."
The dinner was held in late July instead of near Lincoln's Feb. 12 birthday because this was when Mr. Kasich was available, according to Jon Stainbrook, the county GOP chairman.
"We wanted the top of the ticket," he said.
Mr. Kasich himself remarked on what an improvement this year's dinner was from two years ago when he attended, and "we could have put the Lucas County Lincoln Day Dinner in a Volkswagen."
Mr. Stainbrook said the dinner raised about $15,000 for the county party. Tickets were $45 each and $75 per couple, but some donors gave as much as $2,500 to become sponsors.
Toledo mayoral hopeful Jim Moody said the dinner served an important purpose: "It helps rally the troops. The race really starts Aug. 1, because that's when the undecided voters start to pay attention. Functions like this also give Republicans a sense of community."
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