Democracy Dies in Darkness

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Kasich on Brussels: Talk of alliances but not Islam

By David Weigel

March 22, 2016 at 9:38 AM

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Republican front-runner Donald Trump calls Brussels "a disaster," the morning after deadly blasts rocked the Belgian capital. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton urges the U.S. to "reaffirm our solidarity with your European friends." (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) responded quickly to the terrorist attack in Brussels, expressing "solidarity with the people of Belgium" but pointedly not mentioning or blaming Islam.

"Along with every American, I am sickened by the pictures of the carnage, by the injuries and by the loss of life," said Kasich in a statement sent to reporters. "The wave of terror that has been unleashed in Europe and elsewhere around the world are attacks against our very way of life and against the democratic values upon which our political systems have been built. We and our allies must rededicate ourselves to these values of freedom and human rights. We must utterly reject the use of deadly acts of terror. We must also redouble our efforts with our allies to identify, root out and destroy the perpetrators of such acts of evil. We must strengthen our alliances as our way of life and the international system that has been built on our common values since the end of the Second World War comes under challenge from these and other actors of evil."

That contrasted with the response of Donald Trump, who suggested that America "close up" the borders, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who condemned "the latest in a string of coordinated attacks by radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated by those who are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam." Kasich's tone — build alliances, but don't demonize Islam itself — has been consistent as the Republican primary field has shrunk. He repeatedly criticized Trump when the front-runner called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, and used a January forum organized by Jack Kemp's son to criticize anti-Muslim sentiment at a Trump rally.

"I saw a crowd booing this woman who was being escorted," said Kasich. "That's not the spirit of Jack Kemp. I mean, we are people that can tolerate differences and respect people, and this is nonsense. That is not the Republican Party."

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) speaks during the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, D.C., on March 21. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Polling suggests that Kasich is headed for losses in today's Utah caucuses and Arizona primary; he campaigned for two days in Utah in the hopes of pushing Cruz under the 50 percent vote threshold, which would allow other candidates to earn delegates.

David Weigel is a national political correspondent covering Congress and grassroots political movements. He's the author of "The Show That Never Ends," a history of progressive rock music.

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