Kasich Of The North

Ohio Governor John Kasich ribbed an absent Jeb Bush this evening, noting Bush’s cancellation of a town hall in Peterborough, New Hampshire due to snow.  Kasich held a town hall this afternoon in Nashua, New Hampshire, driving through Peterborough on his way to an evening town hall in Keene.  (I drove the same route, encountering a few inches of snow and some slick surfaces but finding it completely passable.)

Here’s what Kasich had to say, both as he concluded his town hall and when I spoke with him afterwards.

Kasich Q&A

Tamir Rice dominated Ohio Governor John Kasich’s post-town hall press Q&A this afternoon in Nashua, New Hampshire.  The 12 year old boy was killed last year by a Cleveland police officer and the announcement that the officer will not be criminally charged has sparked protests and outrage from many people.  As Ohio governor Kasich is not directly involved in the case, but it’s a major issue in his state.

Kasich urged calm, voiced respect for the right to protest and described steps he’s taken in the aftermath of the November 2014 shooting.  Kasich said that he intends to review standards and training for police dispatchers.  When asked, Kasich stated that he has no immediate plans to return to Ohio.  He’s been campaigning in New Hampshire for the past couple of days and heads to Florida this evening for a family vacation.

Trump In Nashua (Updated)

Trump Nashua, NH 12-28-15He came, he mused, he communed.

Donald Trump came to a rally in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday night, musing on the state of the country, communing with his audience over their anger at lots of things and urging his audience to vote in the upcoming primary even though he wasn’t quite certain of the date.

While he drew a smaller crowd than at some of his past events Trump nonetheless had a large crowd.  Held in a middle school gym the rally drew about 700-800 people, including 150 or so in an overflow room.  For comparison, that total roughly equals the total audiences at five separate candidate town halls I attended last Sunday and Monday (with Carson, Christie, Rubio, Kasich and Bush).

Trump Nashua, NH 12-28-15

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Glass Steagall, Crimes & A “Dirtbag” (Updated)

IMG_5627“I’ve got a few questions for you, then I’d like to make a statement and have you respond to the statement.”  So began a lengthy back and forth between Jeb Bush and a man at his Alton, New Hampshire town hall Monday night.

Bush’s questioner, who identified himself as Joe Castagnaro from Gilford, New Hampshire, had some preliminary questions on term limits, taxpayer funded elections and ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) but his deepest focus was on Wall Street “crimes” and the repealed Glass-Steagall Act.  His description of asking Hillary Clinton whether she “would she reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act that her dirtbag husband repealed” drew some giggles from Bush and the audience.

Castagnaro passionately described the 2008 financial crisis as not a “bubble … crisis … [or] meltdown” but a “crime” that bankers should be in jail for.  He also declared that “when you’re president you’ll take your orders from” Wall Street.

Bush demonstrated some political deftness in the exchange, engaging his questioner and somewhat adopting the questioner’s concerns, but the moment also illustrates why Bush has had such a rough time.  He’s more naturally attuned to the financial services industry goal of deregulation than to the visceral anger and distrust of a man who has had his home foreclosed on.  That anger is the dominant pulse of the 2016 race and it’s just not Bush’s.  It’s also the case that Bush and his questioner fundamentally disagree on increasing financial regulation.  While both appear to want credit to be more readily available to borrowers, in reality they represent fundamentally different approaches.  Bush seeks a freer market, believing that will allow banks and other lenders to flourish with a resulting bounty of credit. His questioner appeared to believe that stricter regulation and control of banks, accompanied by increased criminal prosecutions, is  the path to easier credit.  While those views share a rejection of the recent past and current market, they’re ultimately dramatically divergent.

His town hall was well done in a nice setting with solid production and a crowd that perfectly packed the modest sized room to capacity, but this exchange ultimately demonstrates that he’s trying to grab onto the current Zeitgeist, not generating it.

Toward the end of their exchange Castagnaro said there’s “nothing I would rather do than vote for you”, but that the only two candidates tuned in to his view of “taking down the Wall Street banks” are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Kasich Q&A

Ohio Governor John Kasich briefly spoke with the press Monday following a campaign stop in Rochester, New Hampshire.  He offered praise for Lindsey Graham, saying that he would welcome Graham’s endorsement but has not yet asked for it, dismissed a characterization of his campaign as facing a “tough road” in the race saying that “I don’t kinda feel that way” and characterizing Marco Rubio’s call for candidates to pledge to “cancel” the Iran nuclear deal as “premature.”

Here’s his full Q&A:

Rubio On Puerto Rico Fiscal Crisis

Senator Marco Rubio today reiterated that he’s “open … as a last resort” to granting Puerto Rico legal authority to file a bankruptcy petition, but additionally commented that Puerto Rico must first  “undertake some very difficult reforms in the way it operates and funds its government.”  With proponents of granting Puerto Rico that authority unsuccessful in including it in the recent omnibus spending bill further efforts will likely involve what Rubio is suggesting; significant fiscal controls and limits on Puerto Rico’s borrowing and spending authority as a condition for bankruptcy.

I spoke with Rubio after a presidential campaign appearance in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Cuomo Lets Loose On Immigration

National Immigrant Integration Conference 12-14-15Governor Andrew Cuomo today emotionally supported the continuing importance and value of immigration, harshly attacking those would want to severely limit it.  Speaking at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Downtown Brooklyn, Cuomo cast this presidential campaign season as a “critical time” that will “shape the soul … and the character of this country.”

While expressing some empathy for Americans’ economic and security fears, he harshly criticized politicians who respond to those fears by seeking to exclude entire nationalities from the U.S.  While that most notably is Donald Trump, it also covers much of the Republican presidential field.

National Immigrant Integration Conference 12-14-15


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Trump At The Plaza (Updated)

Trump At Plaza Hotel 12-11-15Donald Trump drew a crowd to Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel today, but he slipped in and out without encountering the protesters and gawkers waiting for him at the main entrance.  A crowd of about 200-300, along with a significant press contingent, gathered in anticipation of his appearance at a benefit luncheon.

Trump At Plaza Hotel 12-11-15

Seemingly split about evenly between people voicing opposition to Trump and those curious or drawn to the spectacle, their anticipation would be unsatisfied.  Aided by a bullhorn, a group steadily chanted anti-Trump slogans as his arrival drew near.  A single pro-Trump demonstrator wearing a sandwich board promoting a shooting range and a “Make America Great Again” hat meandered through the crowd, periodically bellowing out support for Trump.   The anti-Trump protesters tried chanting over him at times and held signs in front of him at one point, but he was largely left alone.

Trump At Plaza Hotel 12-11-15


On a raised spot on the side of the steps that glide up into the Plaza I squeezed in among a group of early teens from Tennessee.  Excited at having already seen Lady Gaga and, they thought, DJ from Full House on their maiden voyage to New York City they were eager to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump.  They liked New York, they said, but could do without the rudeness.  With a deep drawl one girl noted that New Yorkers “don’t say yes ma’am and no ma’am” and instead people “say F you to you”, reporting on instances of that occurring.  An Ohio teen also on our elevated observation post seemed quite familiar with Trump via Celebrity Apprentice.  Appearing reasonably familiar with the presidential race she nonetheless did not know that her state’s governor (John Kasich) is also in the race.

Trump At Plaza Hotel 12-11-15The crowd, already restless, began dispersing once word spread that Trump was inside.  By the time he left via a side exit more than an hour later few people remained and his departure was barely noticed.

Click here for our full photo gallery.

N.B.  According to news reports several people protested inside the luncheon and were forcibly ejected.

Photo Gallery: Anti-Trump Rally at City Hall

Anti-Trump City Hall Rally 12-9-15Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hosted a rally on the steps of City Hall Wednesday to denounce many of Donald Trump’s statements, especially his call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States.  Joined by Public Advocate Tish James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, NY State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Liz Krueger and many members of the City Council, Mark-Viverito strongly condemned Trump.

Anti-Trump City Hall Rally 12-9-15

Our full photo gallery is available here.

Anti-Trump City Hall Rally 12-9-15

Triple Trump

Anti-Trump City Hall Rally 12-9-15She trumped the Trump trumpers, at least momentarily.

At today’s City Hall Plaza rally and press conference hosted by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to condemn Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, a woman voicing support for Trump interrupted Mark-Viverito’s opening remarks.  The protester seemed to momentarily flummox Mark-Viverito, calling out “long live Donald Trump” and proclaiming him “a peaceful man”, with the Speaker’s supporters then chanting over the protester.  After interrupting Mark-Viverito several times the protester was removed from City Hall Plaza by the NYPD.  As she was being walked to the exit by the NYPD she declared that Trump “doesn’t always express himself right, that’s it, that’s all it is.”

The protester was certainly not welcomed by Mark-Viverito or those joining her, but it’s worth noting that protesters at Donald Trump rallys are also removed by security and/or local police and that some of those protesters have been punched and kicked by Trump supporters.

Here’s what happened:

Vandalized Menorah Relit

Tonight Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a menorah relighting in Manhattan’s Carl Schurz Park.  The menorah, initially lit last night for the first night of Hanukkah, was vandalized overnight.  Mayor de Blasio joined rabbis from Chabad-Lubavitch of the Upper East Side and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Council Member Ben Kallos, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and a crowd of about 200 people in a non-traditional relighting ceremony, intended as a  public display of defiance to the vandalism.  The park is adjacent to the Mayor’s official residence, with the menorah about two blocks from his door.

Carl Schurz Park 12-7-15

After brief remarks from the hosts and Mayor de Blasio, the candles were lit.  The evening concluded with the mayor joining other men (but no women) in a dance:

Update – Photo Gallery:  Our photo gallery from the relighting is here.

Pataki In NH – All About ISIS

Pataki - Keene NH 12-4-15Republican presidential candidate George Pataki’s most recent New Hampshire campaign swing was overwhelmingly focused on the San Bernardino attack and ISIS.  I joined two of his three open press events Friday; a visit to a retirement community in Lebanon, New Hampshire and an appearance at a Chesire County Republican Committee holiday party.

Pataki devoted most of his remarks at both events to the San Bernardino attack and ISIS, and most of the dozen or so questions posed to him focused on the same topics.

Pataki’s first stop was Quail Hollow, a booming retirement community just north of the center of Lebanon which is itself right in the middle of New Hampshire.  Pataki’s early evening visit to the dining room had the potential for catastrophe, as interrupting dinner can be a hazardous move for a politician.  As he walked around greeting the 35 or so residents seated for dinner Pataki quipped “escape now if you don’t want to hear me talk.”  A woman responded “we’ll listen to you, we’ll give you a chance.”  They did, listening closely and engaging with Pataki, albeit after another woman bellowed “Quiet!” as residents talked over Pataki initially.  He wisely warmed up the crowd by announcing that his mother’s 100th birthday is today (Monday).

Pataki - Lebanon NH 12-4-15

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