SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 18, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the Republican presidential candidate trailing his peers in third place, held three town hall meetings Friday, in Orem, Salt Lake City and Kaysville.
Kasich didn’t draw the thousands of fans frontrunner Donald Trump greeted Friday night in the Infinity Event Center, or the miles of lined-up followers who waited to hear Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders Friday afternoon.
What Kasich did draw was people interested in learning more about the man and his plans for America.
“I came not sure who I was going to vote for,” said Katie Gale, of Salt Lake City, following the Salt Lake City town hall.
“I heard way too much about Trump, and I just can’t. I cannot vote from Trump. I find him not decent. He doesn’t have a lot of respect for people, so I came wanting to find out if John Kasich was the decent person that I’ve heard.”
Gale liked what she saw.
“I listened to him, and he sounds like the person that can unify the citizens of the United States behind him, that has a respect for people, that can actually listen to both sides and bring people together,” she said.
“He just seems like a good man. I was thinking about voting for him before, and now I’m almost 100 percent sure of it.”
Listener Phil Anderson agreed.
“What I experienced is someone who has a clear vision, who is able to articulate it in a moderate way that I think will be necessary for someone to win the presidency in a general election,” Anderson said.
“I think he could have a mass appeal to enough people to win the White House. I liked him (before), but I like him a lot more now.”
Kasich started the day at Utah Valley University, talking about how he felt flying into Utah.
“I looked at all those high peaks with snow covered mountains, then, in some respects, it reminded me of the battle for the nomination,” he said.
“I could see really high peaks that stood out and shown like a beacon. Below that was the valley. I like to live on the peaks. I don’t like to live in the valley of American politics.”
Kasich promised to keep his campaign positive and his standards high, seemingly a reference to mud-slinging by one or both of the other two candidates in his race.
At the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, Kasich talked about topics including foreign policy, including how to deal with terrorism by the Islamic State.
“We have to destroy it,” he said, of ISIS. “But I don’t want to get us involved in civil wars. We cannot be policemen to the world, but we do have to show the leadership. And we have to say what we mean and mean what we say.
“I’ll give you an example of what I mean: We messed in Libya,” Kasich said. “We forced (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi out, they killed him, and now we have ISIS in Libya. We had no business being involved in Libya. We just created more problems for ourselves.”
The cost has been high, Kasich said.
“We have to be very careful about where we go, and when we do go, take care of business and come home, and don’t stay over there trying to convert people to our way of life using the flesh and blood of our most precious people in this country.”
Kasich agreed with an audience member’s view that small businesses struggle.
“We have to motivate the small business community,” he said. “And secondly, I’m going to tell you somebody else that I think we can motivate, because they share many of our values, and that’s our friends in the Hispanic community, we ought to stop trying to drive them out of this country, and drive them away from the Republican party.”
Kasich said threatening to deport good people who are in the country illegally is divisive.
“As far as I’m concerned, if they’re here illegally, and have not committed a crime since they’ve been here, they’ll pay back taxes, they’ll pay a fine, then they can have a path to legalization, not to citizenship because that wouldn’t be right,” Kasich said.
“We need to get this issue behind us because we’re Americans. They will never be citizens, but the idea of deporting them sends a message to all the Hispanics who are here legally that we don’t understand them.”
Kasich said the key to winning an election is a candidate’s vision.
“You know what I think Americans want?” he asked. “I think they want to know do you have the smarts to get the job done? Number two, do you have the heart to get the job done? Number three, do you have the vision to get the job done? And number four, why should I believe you? What can you show me that convinces me that what you’re saying is for real?
“And I’m one politician, one elected official that wants people to study his record, my record,” Kasich said.
“I want you to see it because my history has been being able to bring people together to solve problems, not putting my head in the sand, not using polls or focus groups or any of this other nonsense. Let’s go fix America, and if you like me, I need your support in this caucus out in Utah.”