Pining for Kasich; Love/Hating The Don

by Heather Robinson

On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary and four others, with the Keystone State considered the biggest prize, I thought I would share some of what I heard a few weeks ago from voters in Pittsburgh when I visited.

Most pollsters are predicting a big sweep tomorrow for both Trump and Clinton.

That prediction doesn’t surprise me, and echoes much of what I heard. Because I love to talk politics and hear people’s views, I wound up listening to taxi drivers, contractors, and extended family members at some length about the upcoming Pennsylvania primary.

Thanks to my younger brother, I am now blessed with not only a close and loving Jewish-American family of Russian/Hungarian ancestry but a big loving Catholic Italian-American extended family, too.

So I heard a cross section of views.

Most of the Italian-American, Catholic family members with whom I spoke said they are voting for Donald Trump in the primary and plan to vote for him in the general. Some stressed that, while they don’t consistently like him and find his personality abrasive and his remarks offensive at times, they believe he is the only candidate with a chance to beat Hillary come fall.

Another woman I interviewed, Jeanne Bair, retired, of Pittsburgh, said she would vote for Trump for a number of reasons including her belief that Trump “would not allow Sharia law to infiltrate our legal system any further.”

“What I like about him is he tells it like it is,” said Bair. “He is not a left liberal. I am so sick of the left liberals; I think they have absolutely ruined this country.”

She added, “I don’t want Sharia law here though it is here in two states and that is ridiculous. U.S. law should apply to everyone equally. … I think [Trump] has the balls to call a spade a spade.”

She likes what she believes is Trump’s savvy on national security.

“I do like the idea that when someone says, ‘What is your foreign policy?’ he says, ‘There’s no way I’m going to tell you because I don’t want our enemies to know what it is’ … That is good, why forewarn someone?”

But, Bair thinks her candidate would do well to knock off the insults toward women.

“I’d say, ‘Donald, please stop insulting women.’ Because women like him and want to vote for him, but we don’t want to have to defend the goofy things he sometimes says. He doesn’t need to antagonize women who might otherwise vote for him. He needs to stop that.”

Several other Pittsburghers interviewed at random spots around town professed a preference for Ohio Governor John Kasich – though they expressed doubt he could actually win. One woman who favors him says she is a registered independent.

One Pittsburgh man who works in real estate and is a registered Democrat, who declined to be quoted by name, said he dislikes both Hillary and Bernie.

“I’m not voting for either Hillary or Bernie,” he said. “If I could vote for anyone in the primary it would probably be Kasich.”

The man, who is in his mid-40’s, said he initially found some of Trump’s qualities appealing, pointing to his business acumen. When asked whether he felt there was any truth to the idea that Trump’s business success is exaggerated, or that – as Mitt Romney contended – Trump is a “con artist,” the man said, “Any way you look at it, when you consider the scope of what Trump has done and what he manages, it is impressive.”

But, he added, given Trump’s insults toward various people and his own thin-skinned reactions, “I think Trump has left a lot of people not knowing quite what to think” about how he would perform as a President.

Another couple interviewed at The Porch restaurant in Oakland, the university district where Trump and Chelsea Clinton were both speaking the week before last, said they had voted early for Kasich by absentee ballot. The couple, who are residents of Squirrel Hill, a heavily Jewish neighborhood, said they didn’t wish to be quoted by name.

So, if my completely unscientific survey is any indicator, Pennsylvania – at least Western, Pa. – will go for Trump.

But don’t be surprised if John Kasich makes a slightly stronger showing than predicted in the Keystone State.

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