In what could be the last stand to save his presidential campaign, John Kasich held a primary eve rally on his home turf supported by past Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“I’ll never take the low road for the highest office in the land,” the Ohio governor said at Westerville Central High School, backed by his wife and two daughters, Sen. Rob Portman and Romney.
Kasich said he was watching the Golf Channel over the weekend when he was told to switch to a news channel that had “people slugging one another” at a Donald Trump rally.
“I thought, this isn’t how we fix America,” Kasich said. “You fix America by bringing people together. We’re stronger when we’re united. We’re Americans before we’re Republicans and Democrats.”
At least a thousand people stood in line in the rain, waiting to get in to see the Republican candidate who said he had lived his adult life in Westerville, and was the same guy you saw in shorts at the Westerville Grille. They chanted OH-IO over rock and country music while waiting for him to appear.
Portman praised Kasich for creating more than 400,000 jobs and a $2 billion surplus in Ohio.
“We need to let John Kasich pick up the pieces after eight years of Barack Obama,” Portman said.
Romney, who was defeated in the 2012 presidential election by incumbent Obama, said that “the problems in the country are just as bad as they were six years ago in Ohio. Has anyone seen their health care premium go down?”
The former governor of Massachusetts called Kasich “a man of integrity” with “a clear track record.”
Karen Kasich said she has always been proud of her husband of 19 years, but never more so than the past eight months during the GOP presidential campaign because he has not resorted to name calling.
The candidate himself didn’t say anything controversial or compare himself to the president of Croatia in his unscripted speech. He spoke of reforming the government, saying that under his presidency, all combat veterans will have access to health care. He spoke of making government smaller, “so it can do what it’s supposed to.”
“Our small business people are our heroes,” Kasich said. “They create jobs for our children. Everything is different, and you have to move at the speed of business.”
He said people should “live a life a little bit bigger than ourselves,” and said that after conducting hundreds of town hall meetings, that running for president had changed him.
In addition, he said he had stood up for Ohio when others didn’t.
Ohio is important not only because it’s Kasich’s home state, but now primary victories are winner-take-all in terms of delegates. According to the website RealClear Politics, Trump has 460 delegates; Ted Cruz 370; Marco Rubio 163; and Kasich is fourth with 63 delegates. It takes 1,237 delegates out of a possible 2,472 that are awarded to secure the GOP nomination.
Kasich has said that he could drop out of the race if he didn’t win Ohio. The most recent polls had Kasich and Trump tied in Ohio.
However, he remained optimistic, telling the cheering audience, “I’m gonna need you two more times” — for their vote in the primary, and also “to beat Hillary Clinton in November.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.