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Politics & Government

In Indiana, Many Voters Look To Challenge The Status Quo

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Well, now to give us the big picture in Indiana, Tim Swarens joins us. He's the political columnist and opinion director for the The Indianapolis Star. Welcome to the program.

TIM SWARENS: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: We've heard from some Indiana voters. How would you describe what the main concerns of primary voters are in your state today?

SWARENS: So I think there are multiple concerns, and perhaps the biggest is jobs and the economy. Indiana is the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation, meaning that advanced manufacturing and traditional manufacturing make up a larger segment of our state economy than any other state in the nation.

So when Carrier announced in February that it was moving 1,400 jobs out of Indianapolis to Mexico, Donald Trump seized on that immediately. He's talked about it repeatedly since then. He's talked about it often while he's been campaigning in the state. That resonates with many, many voters.

SIEGEL: Your paper made some endorsements - on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton - on the Republican side, John Kasich. Why endorse somebody who seemed to have thrown in the towel on Indiana?

SWARENS: Right. So we didn't formally endorse. What we did say - in a field of five candidates from both parties, we chose Hillary Clinton as the better candidate on the Democratic side. And John Kasich, who is not campaigning in Indiana, is the best candidate from our point of view to lead the country if he were to become president.

So is it a protest vote to say Kasich? No, it's more stepping back and saying, what standards should we have; what standards to we want to promote? And John Kasich fits that bill better than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

SIEGEL: What do you think Indiana voters made of the Cruz-Kasich strategy to divide up the remaining states and that Kasich would cede Indiana to Cruz?

SWARENS: On the Kasich side - a lot of disappointment, a lot of Kasich supporters who were eager to see him come here. These are right, moderate voters. Ted Cruz is far to the right of where they are. They're not sure where Donald Trump stands ideologically. They're not convinced that he's a true Republican and let alone a true conservative. So John Kasich was the happy medium for many voters in Indiana and then really at the last moment decided to bypass the state.

SIEGEL: If in fact Donald Trump is the Republican candidate, if he's nominated - seems a pretty strong likelihood of that these days - would his candidacy pose a problem for The Indianapolis Star - that is, would he be beyond the pale, do you think, for your editorial board?

SWARENS: I can safely say yes on that. From what we've seen over the last year or so from Donald Trump on any number of issues. But with all honesty, newspaper endorsements don't have all that much sway in 2016.

I think, on a broader point, Indiana may very well come into play in November. Hillary Clinton could actually prevail in Indiana. Barack Obama won Indiana in 2008. We could see Hillary Clinton win in 2016.

Now, having said that, I'm also somebody who said last the summer, there's no way that Donald Trump will get the Republican nomination. So I have to acknowledge I was definitely wrong about that. I could be wrong about Donald Trump's chances in November as well.

SIEGEL: Tim Swarens, thanks for talking with us today.

SWARENS: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Tim Swarens - political columnist and opinion director for The Indianapolis Star. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.