John Kasich continued to parlay his media reputation as the nice guy in the GOP presidential field during a stop at Utah Valley University on Friday.
Saying what needs to be said “doesn’t take away from the philosophy of never taking the low road to the highest office in the land. I’m going to continue to run a positive campaign.”
Apologizing for his tardiness because of a flight delay, the Ohio governor smoothly turned a description of the mountain view out his plane window into a metaphor for the presidential race.
“I like to live on the peaks. I don’t like to live in the valley of American politics,” Kasich said.
Kasich trails the other GOP candidates financially but said his ability to stay in the running with that disadvantage means what he’s doing is working. “With very little money and very little attention, I’m one of three, and one of potentially five people who could be president of the United States. We’re doing something right.”
The UVU crowd brought up two of the tough questions lingering on many Utahn’s minds: why did Kasich follow Trump in backing out of the debate scheduled to take place in Salt Lake City next week? Will his continued campaign divide the Republican Party, leading to a Democratic victory for the White House?
Kasich explained he chose not to participate in the debate because if the “number one guy” were not to attend, Kasich could use his time in the state more effectively.
During the rally, a man accused Kasich of “playing games with the party” and acting “for (his) own interest.” The man said that even if Kasich were to receive 100 percent of the delegate votes, he still couldn’t win the election, so he should get behind one of the other great candidates and avoid causing disunity in the party.
Kasich defended himself fiercely. “First of all, the reason why I am running for president of the United States and the reason why I continue to run is I’m the only candidate that can beat Hillary Clinton in the fall.”
Kasich said his experiences as governor and as a congressman will lead people to choose him as the next president.
“We’re not playing a parlor game. I’m running for president because I have a record, experience and a vision that’s different from the rest of them,” he said. “I’m not here to play a game.”
Kasich also touched on less emotionally charged aspects of his policies. Admitting that “Democrats love to spend, and so do Republicans,” he called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Kasich believes ISIS should be destroyed through an Arab-Western partnership, but that the U.S. shouldn’t involve itself in any dangerous civil wars. “Once it settles down, I’m for coming home. I don’t want to rebuild any of those countries.”
He stood up for small businesses and local management, claiming federal regulations should not kill the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in Utah. Promising to shift power out of “that town” (Washington D.C.) and back to the states, he said, “We will not hesitate to get that done with a plan that will be presented to Congress in the first 100 days.”
The Kasich event fell on the same day that a pro-Kasich PAC, New Day Independent Media, turned its attention to Utah. According to a press release, New Day followed up Kasich’s Ohio victory and many important Utah Republican endorsements with a TV ad called “Win,” to be aired Thursday through Tuesday in Utah.
“Ohio voters took the first step in showing that integrity, character and experienced leadership still matter when choosing a president, and we’re confident Utah voters can agree,” said New Day for America spokeswoman Camille Anderson.