OUR PRES­I­DEN­TIAL PRI­MARY EN­DORSE­MENTS

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - Fol­low the Edi­to­rial Board on Twit­ter: @cste­d­i­to­ri­als

Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica is a place that goes soft on David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump’s Amer­ica is a place where mil­lions of peo­ple who have slipped over from Mex­ico to find work and feed their fam­i­lies are vil­i­fied as “killers and rapists.”

Trump’s Amer­ica is a place that would ban all Mus­lims from com­ing into the coun­try and cre­ate a registry of those who are al­ready here.

Trump’s Amer­ica is a place where tor­ture is ac­cept­able, and Rus­sia’s thug pres­i­dent is “amaz­ing,” and gaudy ma­te­rial wealth is the only true mea­sure of suc­cess. It is a place where ig­no­rance is a virtue, and a reporter who asks tough ques­tions must be men­stru­at­ing, and ev­ery other critic is a “dummy” or a “loser” or “dopey” or a “low life” or a “fool” or a “fat pig” or a “dog” or a “slob” or “truly weird” or a “bad guy” or a “dis­gust­ing an­i­mal.”

Trump’s Amer­ica is not our Amer­ica, and we trust it is not yours. Trump’s Amer­ica would be any­thing but “great again.” God for­bid the Great Vul­gar­ian should ever make it to the White House.

In the Illinois Repub­li­can pri­mary on March 15, a re­spon­si­ble vote would be for any­body but Trump. But bet­ter than that, we urge a vote for Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich, know­ing per­fectly well that his odds of win­ning the nom­i­na­tion are re­mote. At least you’ll be vot­ing for the big­gest grown-up in the room.

Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida lacks ex­pe­ri­ence and judg­ment, as ev­i­denced in the way he has stooped to Trump-like school­yard taunts. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas went to Prince­ton but can’t spell the word com­pro­mise, which is why he’s all talk and no ac­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

Ka­sich, in im­pres­sive con­trast, has re­fused to jump into the­mud pit. When in­vited at Thurs­day’s rau­cous de­bate in Detroit to say some­thing crit­i­cal about one of Trump’s odder for­eign pol­icy po­si­tions, Ka­sich said, “I won’t bite” and of­fered a thought­ful ex­pla­na­tion of his own po­si­tions.

Ka­sich has deep ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic life and the pri­vate sec­tor, both as a leg­is­la­tor and ex­ec­u­tive. Be­fore be­ing elected gov­er­nor of Ohio in 2010, he served 18 years in Congress, where he was amem­ber of the im­por­tant House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. He has been an in­vest­ment banker, work­ing as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Lehman Brothers’ Colum­bus, Ohio, of­fice.

If you’re look­ing for a lit­tle more hon­esty and com­mon sense on the is­sues, Ka­sich stands out as well. He does not deny the re­al­ity of cli­mate change, which sadly makes him an out­lier in his own party, though he op­poses the EPA reg­u­lat­ing car­bon emis­sions. He fa­vors the com­ple­tion of a fence along the Mex­i­can bor­der, but he would of­fer a path to le­gal sta­tus— not cit­i­zen­ship — for un­doc­u­mented work­ers.

As a gov­er­nor, Ka­sich has pushed for less prison time and more re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices for non­vi­o­lent of­fend­ers. He signed a bill in 2012 mak­ing it eas­ier for ex-felons to get work, and he has ar­gued that Amer­ica’s pris­ons are hold­ing toomany peo­ple who are men­tally ill.

Ka­sich would of course abol­ish the Af­ford­able Care Act — that’s party or­tho­doxy— but he would re­tain the fed­eral Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion. Like Gov. Bruce Rauner here in Illinois, Ka­sich tried in Ohio to limit the col­lec­tive-bar­gain­ing rights for pub­lic em­ploy­ees. But when that idea was re­jected in a state ref­er­en­dum, he pret­ty­much dropped it.

If we were to fol­low Mitt Rom­ney’s ad­vice in this elec­tion, we would en­dorse Ru­bio or Cruz rather than Ka­sich in the Illinois pri­mary. Rom­ney, in a scathing take­down of Trump on Thurs­day, urged vot­ers in each state to choose the can­di­date who ap­pears to be strong­est against Trump. In Illinois, a RealClearPol­i­tics av­er­ag­ing of re­cent polls shows, Trump is fa­vored by­more than 30 per­cent of likely Repub­li­can vot­ers, while Ru­bio is at about 17 per­cent and Cruz is at 15. Ka­sich is strug­gling at 11 per­cent.

Our own view, though, is that the cal­iber of that al­ter­na­tive to Trump must be se­ri­ously con­sid­ered as well. Ka­sich sim­ply laps the field when it comes to ex­pe­ri­ence, an un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues and tem­per­a­ment. Polls show that he also matches up best against Hil­lary Clin­ton, the likely Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, beat­ing Clin­ton by more than 7 points.

If Trump fails to win his party’s nom­i­na­tion out­right and a messy bat­tle en­sues on the floor of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, Ka­sich’s star may rise yet.

In any event, a vote for Ka­sich is a vote against Trump, whose star can’t fall fast enough for us.

He fa­vors com­ple­tion of a fence along the Mex­i­can bor­der, but he would of­fer a path to le­gal sta­tus — not cit­i­zen­ship — for un­doc­u­mented work­ers.

PAUL SANCYA/AP

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