Hillary Clinton and John Kasich are best in California primary

Hillary Clinton talks about the opioid crisis during a campaign stop in Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday. She will campaign in California this week.
Hillary Clinton talks about the opioid crisis during a campaign stop in Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday. She will campaign in California this week. Charleston Gazette-Mail

California’s presidential primary isn’t going to matter nearly as much as it seemed it would just a few days ago.

But Republican voters can still send a clear and important message. They have a chance to repudiate hate, misogyny and bigotry.

Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas suspended his campaign after losing the Indiana primary on Tuesday. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio followed suit Wednesday, clearing the GOP field.

Trump has run a cynical and destructive campaign. Instead of policies to move America forward, he offers empty platitudes. Worse, he sows division and encourages discrimination. We fear he would be a disaster as president.

Republicans who want to protest Trump – and who care about the future of their party – should vote for Kasich, by far their best choice on the June 7 ballot.

Kasich has compassion for have-nots and a wealth of experience in Congress and as a governor. Much to his credit, he steadfastly refused to take part in the name-calling and demagoguery that sullied the GOP campaign. In his pitch to California Republicans last week, he advocated for the mentally ill, those addicted to drugs and others in need, appealing to the best in us.

As mail ballots start arriving next week, the California primary is suddenly more important on the Democratic side.

While Hillary Clinton is way ahead in delegates, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont narrowly won Indiana and is well positioned in other contests before June 7. He’ll have momentum, and Clinton will almost certainly need a sizable number of California’s 546 delegates to clinch the nomination.

We endorse Clinton because she is, by far, the more qualified, experienced and prepared candidate.

Indeed, the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state may be the most ready to become president on that first day of anyone in recent history. Besides the domestic and economic policies Sanders focuses on, the job also means being commander in chief. There’s no doubt that she is more knowledgeable and better equipped than Sanders for the world stage.

Clinton may not be the most passionate or inspirational of politicians, and she must do all she can to earn the public’s trust after the email scandal and other missteps. But she has the right priorities to rebuild the middle class, for instance. She is more likely to actually get things done in Washington, D.C., and offers the hope of helping to unite the country.

Democrats should embrace this historic opportunity for our nation to have its first female president.

Sanders deserves credit for energizing new and younger voters and focusing attention on the power of Wall Street, the twisted campaign finance system and the widening gap between the super-rich and the rest of us.

Yet Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, holds views far to the left of most Americans. Many of his proposals are unaffordable and unlikely to be enacted without his “political revolution.” Without a like-minded majority in Congress, it’s a recipe for more frustrating and damaging gridlock.

The Sanders camp points to polls suggesting he would do better in November against Trump, but these hypothetical matchups are meaningless at this point.

For one thing, Clinton has been thoroughly vetted and battle-tested. This is Sanders’ first national campaign, so he has not undergone that excruciating process, making it more likely that something politically toxic will be unearthed.

Very few voters, for instance, know that he once praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua. He made those remarks 30 years ago, but he declined to disavow them when they came up briefly during a March debate.

Clinton has avoided going after Sanders on those kinds of issues. Trump wouldn’t hesitate to rip into Sanders.

Trump will attack Clinton viciously, too. That’s what he does. But she has weathered attacks before.

Some Democrats’ hearts are with Sanders. But he would be a huge risk as a candidate against Trump and as a leader. Clinton is the far wiser choice. A Trump presidency is the scariest prospect of all.

Speaking to supporters in Oakland, Hillary Clinton slams Bernie Sanders on free college tuition.

The last 2016 Republican presidential candidate competing against Donald Trump suspended his campaign Wednesday, April 4, 2016. Governor John Kasich, R-Ohio, dropped out of the race in Columbus, just a day after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced h

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