Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Should Pick a Running Mate with Passion, Youth: John Kasich

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Should Pick a Running Mate with Passion, Youth: John Kasich

Article excerpt

No sooner had the debate over who wrote "Primary Colors" died down than a new guessing game gripped Washington: Who will Bob Dole choose as his running mate? And given the dynamics of this year's presidential campaign, it may very well be vital.

The main battleground in the Clinton-Dole contest will not be in any particular state or over any one issue. The fight will be waged in the hearts and minds of the people over two competing visions for America. Whether Republicans like it or not, Clinton will make the election a referendum on the GOP agenda. So instead of balancing the ticket by looking at a map, Dole would be better off balancing it by looking at himself.

This balancing act would require giving the campaign megaphone to a vice presidential candidate who can communicate the message of the Republican revolution with passion, conviction and a sense of urgency. Only a handful of Republican leaders fit this bill, and Rep. John Kasich of Ohio, chairman of the Budget Committee, is high among them.

Talking with him in his office last week, I was struck by his ability to articulate both the crisis facing the country and a positive vision for resolving it. "This is a crusade," he told me. "This is not about an inside-the-Beltway battle over budget numbers. This is about reclaiming neighborhoods and turning lives around. In the middle of the most violent part of Brooklyn, there is a church doing just that. So, on one side of the street, you have little houses with flowers blooming, and on the other, it's all bombed out." In the Reagan tradition, Kasich never espouses principle without illustrating it with stories drawn from life.

A mailman's son from McKees Rocks, Pa., Kasich sees the country in a race against time: "We're at risk of losing a generation," he said. "We can't afford to lose another one." It is this sense of urgency that gives him his intensity. "Sometimes, that makes me too bullish," he explains. "When Teddy Roosevelt went up San Juan Hill, he wasn't asking, `Is everybody happy? Has everyone had lunch?' "

Kasich is a man with a calling, and his calling is not to get re-elected for an eighth term, nor is it to consolidate his power base as chairman of the Budget Committee. …

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