Now it’s time to vote

Here’s an analysis of the major presidential candidates in both parties

By the time you read this, the Iowa caucuses, that strange process with its curious and often meaningless results, will be over. Next, it’s New Hampshire’s turn.

In evaluating the candidates and making a personal choice, the factors that come to mind are interesting. 

In both parties, the promises and claims made by candidates as to what they will and can do as president seem to fly in the face of actual legal constraints on the presidency. The New York Times recently had an article saying that only one candidate, Rand Paul, even bothered to respond to its request for a statement by candidates as to the limits of presidential power.

President Obama has faced challenges to executive authority, and the claims of many of those running for office seem to make his actions pale by comparison. Nevertheless, candidates running for the presidency claim the ability to wave a magic wand and produce results. 

Of course, positions on issues are important, and listening to what candidates actually say, instead of what they accuse others of saying, is important.

It is curious that balancing the budget and fiscal responsibility questions have been largely absent, even in the Republican debates. On the Democratic side, they have been totally absent.

To me and many, this is the most important issue facing the country long term, as has been pointed out by organizations like the Concord Coalition and Fix the Debt, reminders largely falling on deaf ears.

And the ability to get people together and actually get things done, by reaching across the aisle and forging coalitions. The “No Labels” group has tried to point this out.

Considering all that, here is my analysis.

First, although I do not vote in the Democratic primary, were I to do so I would vote for Hillary Clinton. While I do not particularly want her to be president, she has done things and has experience in the executive branch, although her actual accomplishments are questionable to me.

Bernie Sanders, perhaps the most straightforward candidate running and one of the most refreshing, gets credit for directness. However, when I listen to what he says, not only do I believe he could not accomplish it, I don’t want him to! 

Then there is my party. First, the candidate who has made the most noise, Donald Trump, was endorsed by Sarah Palin. He is smarter and more serious than he comes across, and also lacks governmental experience and the demeanor to be president. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, the scariest candidate, apparently has never been able to get along with anybody at any stage of his career. He appears to take possessions for their usefulness at the moment, and does not even make a pretense of reaching out to others.

The other two first-term senators, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, share with Cruz the fact that they have been elected but once and have no executive experience. There is no record to commend them. Rubio is attractive and with seasoning could be a serious candidate. Paul, like his father, believes what he says, and that is the problem. 

That leaves, among serious candidates, the three governors. Chris Christie of New Jersey perhaps is the best candidate on his feet, in person, I have ever seen. He masters the issues, has mostly practical and commonsense responses and is a GOP governor in a Democratic state. He makes a compelling case on national security and is very attractive. 

Jeb Bush is attractive, gentle, qualified, comes from a great family and is a class act. Bush’s PAC, however, is vicious in its attacks, and, frankly, questionable in some of the facts in the attack ads. Nevertheless, were he the only former or current executive running, he would be a more than an acceptable candidate. 

Finally, there is John Kasich of Ohio. A former congressman with knowledge of national defense and budgetary matters, with experience in business and as a successful executive whose re-election campaign drew a majority of Republicans and Democrats in his state and a large percentage of minorities, Kasich is calm, serious (but self-deprecating), practical, bipartisan and has experience doing what we need a president to do.

More and more people I encounter are tired of the strident nature of others’ campaigns and are drawn to Kasich. His list of supporters in New Hampshire comes from all wings of the GOP and is notable in the number of serious and experienced leaders who have examined all the candidates and picked him. 

On Election Day, I’m voting for John Kasich. Be sure to do your analysis and vote. 

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups.

Categories: Cook on Concord