Andrew Smith (OH): ‘I’m Withholding Judgement’ on Impeachment
Andrew Smith (57), a Republican from Columbus, OH, grew up in Maine where he was raised “conservative, because that’s pretty much all we had up there.” He is a lifelong Republican who can’t stand Trump, and he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. When he married Lavea Brachman, a Democrat, who was also interviewed for this project, he went to work in his in-law’s paint and resin business in Columbus. He is now CEO.
What issues do you care about most?
Health care and how we pay for it is probably the biggest long-term public policy question facing our country—and it’s a mess. It’s very expensive, and the system we have is making it more expensive. I also generally think the economy is important. One concern I have with a lot of Democrats is they look at business as evil. They want to take the money and spend it on things they want, whereas I look at business as the engine of growth and the provider of goods and services that we all need to live. I care about the environment and I understand that businesses aren’t perfect and need to be regulated, but a light touch is the best touch, and we’re so far from a light touch.
What personal traits matter to you most in a candidate?
Anything but Trump’s traits. I never cared for his demeanor. I followed his business career, and he showed a lot of bluster and a lot of BS. During the 2016 primary season, I was just incredulous that people were flocking to him. There’s nothing particularly appealing about him to me. I didn’t particularly like his policy positions or the way he spoke about them. I tend to be a conservative in many ways; Trump has never been known as a conservative. I don’t think he’s particularly principled.
What do you think about the impeachment proceedings?
They are sucking a lot of the air out of the room, although journalists and people who are very interested in politics tend to really focus on them. I can’t say it’s come up in business circles. I’m withholding judgment until more facts emerge.
Is there tension in your family about politics?
Political discussions for the last three years have been almost entirely about Donald Trump, crowding out almost all rational discussions of policy, which itself is unfortunate. I wouldn’t say tension describes it. The election of President Trump and his actions in office have caused my wife great distress. It is a natural instinct to want to comfort and aid someone you love, and because my wife has been inconsolable, it has evoked in me a feeling of resigned helplessness. Other family members, while no fans of the president, have not been nearly as upset.
What do you think about the Democratic field?
I know this sounds a little irresponsible, but I’m not paying much attention to the Democratic primary. At the end of the day, in November of next year, we will really have two choices. I can’t see myself voting for Trump. Many Republicans in Ohio last time were on the ropes. They could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but I did. Biden is someone I’d be really comfortable with as president, so I could go for him. I could not vote for Bernie Sanders. I think he’s a nut job. Elizabeth Warren, although she talks like a nut job, is smart. She’s a little more sophisticated. I would give her more of a hearing than Bernie.
Are a candidate’s positions on Israel important to you?
Yes, extremely important. Israel is a great ally to the United States. Most Republicans are pretty strong on Israel, as are many Democrats, though not as many as I would like. I know it’s nuanced when it comes to Israel, but I think we need to be good to our friends and we need to be a little tougher on enemies.