Political Junkie Weighs In On Indiana Primary

May 3, 2016

Ken Rudin is host of the Political Junkie podcast and former political editor at NPR
Credit Ken Rudin

Indiana’s primary typically doesn’t play much of a role in the outcome of presidential primaries. But this year is different.

Some pundits are saying the Hoosier primary is make-or-break for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

WBOI’s Katy Anderson spoke with Ken Rudin, host of the Political Junkie podcast and former political editor at NPR, to get his take.

Rudin says Indiana is in a rare position to make some important presidential choices.

Interview Highlights:

On  why Indiana is in the spotlight this season:

"Usually  the presidential nomination is sewn up pretty early.  Case and point, John McCain  in 2008. He won the Republican nomination by Mar. 3rd, and that means all those states that have primaries in Apr. or May... they just forget about it because there's no contest at stake.  So it's very unusual and exciting for Indiana to be in the spotlight this year." 

On what's at stake for the presidential candidates:

"It's more urgent for the Republicans... [Indiana] has a lot of social conservatives, the kind that might back Ted Cruz otherwise.  So, the never-Trump crowd is very strongly looking at Indiana hoping that this could be the place where their dreams of a contested convention will continue." 

On the Cruz-Kasich alliance: 

"Given the fact that John Kasich has won only one contest so far in his neighboring state of Ohio, why not give him a shot in Indiana? And let Ted Cruz, who has done well in the west in the past, go on to compete unimpeded in Oregon and New Mexico? To be honest, the fact is that Ted Cruz seems to be the only candidate with a chance of stopping Donald Trump and right now it seems like his dreams of doing so in Indiana are coming to an end." 

On the strategy behind Gov. Mike Pence's endorsement of Ted Cruz: 

"I think social conservatives feel like he is more closely aligned with a Ted Cruz kind-of candidate than Donald Trump, who has views about abortion and free trade that are anathema to many conservatives.  But having said that, [Pence] knows that he has a tough race for reelection in November and I think that while he did endorse Ted Cruz he did not say anything critical of Donald Trump... Pence needs to know that he's going to need to have a united party if he's going to win a second term this fall." 

On whether Indiana will be up for grabs in November: 

"I do [believe Indiana will be up for grabs].  It's one of those rare states where Obama won and lost.  There are lot of these so-called Republican states that the GOP usually wins in presidential races, but because Donald Trump is such a controversial figure... there are a lot of Republicans who are nervous about states like Indiana and they're fearful that if Trump is weak at the top of the ticket it could jeopardize their senate candidate as well as Gov. Pence.  There's a lot riding in Indiana and not only on the presidential race."