On the No. 1 issue in this campaign:
Blackwell wants to work on jump-starting the economy with changes in tax structure, regulatory structure, torts, and K-12 education. He addressed mostly the first three with us.
"There's no more important job for the next governor of Ohio than getting the economy going."On the tax system:
"We've put too many roadblocks in the way of incoming capital."
"We have a challenge of converting our confiscatory tax program."
"We have a regulatory environment that is redundant and red-tape-filled."
"Right now, Ohio is still in the Top 10 of the 50 states in terms of lawsuit abuse."
The state of Ohio has a "steeply graduated income tax," treats capital gains as real income, and has a stand-alone state estate tax coupled with a relatively low residency requirement of 120 days (surrounding states are about 180 days).
"Not only are we losing young people at a record rate,we're losing 25-39-year-olds at an alarming rate."Blackwell wants to move to a single-rate system, eventually settling on about 3.25 percent, which would make the state competitive with its neighbors, all of which have a single-rate system. He also wants to phase out the estate tax and increase the residency threshold to 180 days, "which would put us about in the middle of the pack."
Blackwell noted that Ohio needs job growth and job growth comes from small businesses, many of which are "as much impacted by income tax cuts and reforms as they are by business tax cuts."
"Ohio and New York are in a breakneck race to see which state will be the leading repopulator of the state of Florida. About 65 Ohioans become Florida citizens every day, and it's not for the beaches or the golf. It's for the state tax system."On tort reform:
Blackwell recounted a story from a rural county in Ohio, equidistant from a Richmond, Indiana hospital and a Dayton, Ohio hospital. Eighty percent of babies born to parents of that Ohio county were born in the Richmond Indiana hospital. Why? Because state malpractice insurance is so prohibitively expensive that the Dayton hospital is down to two Ob-Gyns.
"We can create an environment of regulatory predictability that is much more inviting to business than regulatory confusion."Blackwell referred to a large amount of coal reserves in Ohio that can be converted to energy through an old technology, but there's a roadblock:
"Ohio is the only state in the nation to have two state agencies regulating the coal industry, often issue conflicting rules."On Ted Strickland:
"That impedes growth, job expansion...We've created an environment where risk-taking has been put at risk."
"[In the past], Ohio has been fertile ground for big thinkers and wealth creators."
Blackwell pointed out that Strickland's Congressional voting record, "almost mirrors that of Nancy Pelosi, so this will be a campaign about Ohio values vs. San Francisco values."
Someone pointed out that Strickland actually scores lower on the Club for Growth's scorecard this year than Pelosi, at which information Blackwell grinned-- wide.
"He hasn't seen a tax that he couldn't support...This guy is a government expansionist. The two principal drivers of his campaign cash are class-action litigators and public sector unions....I think...Ohioans will pick what they clearly see as a reform candidate."Quin Hillyer: What about the Taft problem?
Blackwell noted that he's criticized the BWC for a decade, saying "if you're not gonna change the model, at least change the way it's structured...I've argued for a decade...that the state treasurer should be providing oversight on the investment side."
"I'm gonna turn this issue back around on him. Strickland's team is intricately interwoven...with the BWC problem. IT's gonna be very, very hard to make me part of the Taft problem when I was perhaps...the most consistent critic of his policies."Rob Bluey: What is is about Ohio that's got Republicans dragging, referring to DeWine?
"I think there's a basic frustration."David All: How do you feel about immigration reform in general?
"If we allow Strickland to make this race between Strickland and Taft...then Strickland wins."
"But when we make this a race between me and Strickland...my strength has been in being a full-package Republican."
"It's very important that we protect the borders."Andy Roth: Would the Ohio legislature be helpful, in the event of a Blackwell administration?
"MS-13 is real and it has an impact on our cities...you have to acknowledge that some are using a wave of decent people coming here illegally to take advantage."
"One good thing about a competitive primary is that it clears the head...I think we have learned from that...what our base is saying to us is important."Blackwell pointed out several budget-cutting/controlling ideas that have been enacted, and thinks the state could look forward to more under his leadership.
MKH: I know the Christian message can play well in the black community. Have you made inroads on the conservative economic message, maybe from your time as mayor of Cincinnati. And, given that liberals are still steamed about 2004, and that liberal attacks on black Republicans are generally nasty anyway, what are expecting from the Rainbow/PUSHes and the Jesse Jacksons?
"In three general elections, I've averaged about 40 percent of the African-American vote. That is threatening to the Democratic establishment."On Dem strategy:
"Just last week, seven high-profile clergymen and women endorsed my candidacy, and 75 percent of those folks were Democrats."
"My argument is straight out of Martin Luther King's 1963 'Letter From a Birmingham Jail.' You could choose to be a passive thermometer or you could choose to be a thermostat of the culture. It's an activist message."
"What is the flip-side of poverty? Wealth creation. You'll never win the war on poverty until you start talking about wealth creation."
"I tell churches all the time, 'the Bible says the poor shall always be with you. It doesn't mean the same people always have to be poor.' There is an upward mobility."
"The problem isn't income...most black children today are raised in families with zero-to-negative asset bases," he said, adding that he wants to focus on financial literacy and creating a savings ethic. "Now you're talking about ways that you can actually win the war on poverty."
"They are in for a real battle," he said of the Democrats. "I've built an organization that will go into churches and go into neighborhoods and will make our case, and we'll do fine."
"We're gonna start the great realignment."
"What they're gonna try is, 'if you don't like Bush, here's the guy you blame'... That's not gonna work. That only works if you're not familiar with me."David All: How are you planning to counter the liberal MSM in Ohio, and are you working with bloggers?
"Here's what they (Dems) worry about...as they sort of make the case that I gave this election, that I stole this election for Bush...when it gets exposure in the general community...Not one of them (state papers) has concluded, either on their editorial pages or in their news pages, that there was some major hijacking of this campaign," he said, adding that of 176 Democrats who serve on the Board of Elections, "not one of them has come out and said that there was anything corrupt or untoward about this election."On the New Yorker article:
"Most people in Ohio understand that my choice was to take...those who believed in the rule of law and those who believe in voters without borders. I chose the rule of law," he said, adding that Ohio handled its provisional ballots the exact same way as New York, Texas and Massachusetts did.
"They see my brand of conservatism as being strange...Ohio is used to electing governors that are dull and practical."
"Nobody has ever accused me of not being able...to drive toward results...that enhance the quality of life for the people I serve. I don't govern by the editorial pages. I have an ideology that I live and die by."
"They went to great lengths to get sort of personal details, but left people with he impression that my treatment of provisional ballots was still in the courts," he said with an incredulous smirk. "It's over."