Kasich takes victory lap at town hall near Philadelphia


Fresh off of a victory in the primary of his home state of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich visited the state where he was born: Pennsylvania. 

On Wednesday afternoon Kasich, who was born near Pittsburgh, held a town hall in Villanova, his first stop following an 11-point victory over 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump in Ohio. 

The town hall — one of the more than 200 he has consistently held across the nation thus far — was attended by hundreds of students and residents from surrounding counties gathered in dialogue with the former congressman.

The turnout for the event was so high that many were left stranded outside when — due to capacity limits — campaign officials were forced to close the doors half an hour before the event was set to start.

Unscripted, Kasich reiterated the optimistic message of his campaign: experience, while telling personal anecdotes and giving advice aimed at college students.

The Republican candidate recounted having been invited to the White House as an Ohio State University freshman to meet with President Richard Nixon after writing the former president a personal letter.

“Be a pest, but be a polite pest,” Kasich said, encouraging students to be persistent and outspoken. “They can’t tell you no if you don’t ask.”

Kasich engaged with the younger members of the electorate in attendance by praising Villanova’s Division I basketball team — which just earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament — and offering March Madness predictions.

The Ohio governor smoothly transitioned into his main talking points about the current state of the federal government, comparing it to a “big, old and tired dinosaur.”

“Government doesn’t have the right to spend money it doesn’t have and put Americans in debt,” he said.

The former congressman pointed out that his efforts as chairman of the House Budget Committee during former president Bill Clinton's administration led to the balancing of the federal budget.

Kasich proposed cutting taxes to increase consumer purchasing power and highlighted the need for common sense regulation, at one point criticizing how major banks had now grown bigger than they originally were before the financial crisis.

The governor fetched all sort of different questions from the crowd after his speech.

A local high school student —who Kasich joked with for skipping class to go to the town hall — asked whether there was space in the current Republican party for young, fiscally conservative, yet socially moderate members like himself. Kasich talked about political polarization in Washington, D.C.,comma and cited his moderate stances on gay marriage and climate change.

As expected, the governor was asked about President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, which the White House announced shortly before Kasich took the stage in Villanova.

Kasich — as he had done in previous debates — blamed Obama for trying to push a Supreme Court nominee through a polarized Congress during an election year.

“You cannot stiff the legislative body. [Obama] has no relationship with them,” the Ohio moderate said.

Former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) and former Pennsylvania state Sen. Earl Baker — both of whom have endorsed Kasich — were in attendance. The governor is hoping that his grassroots campaigning efforts in moderate Pennsylvania will help him claim the state’s 76 delegates on April 26.

His standing on the Pennsylvania ballot had previously been in doubt after Chairman of Pennsylvania Students for Rubio and College sophomore Nathaniel Rome filed a petition to remove him from contention in the state. Rome claimed that Kasich did not have the requisite amount of signatures to be included on the ballot. That lawsuit was dropped hours after Kasich's town hall.

Although it is mathematically impossible for Kasich to reach the 1,237 delegate count to clinch the GOP nomination, his campaign hopes to force a brokered Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

In the meantime, Kasich is determined to continue his campaign march through the nation, promoting his message in intimate settings like the Villanova town hall on Wednesday.

“The reason we won Ohio is because of the grassroots,” Kasich said as he finalized his speech. “I’m not going to take the low road to the highest office.”

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