By Robin Alberti
Ohio Governor and Presidential Candidate John Kasich spoke to a packed house of over 500 people at Castleton’s Casella Theater, Monday.
By Robin Alberti and Polly Lynn
Over 500 people packed into Casella Theater at Castleton University Monday, Feb. 29, with students of all ages and local residents eager to hear Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich speak. This marked his third visit to Vermont, but the first outside Chittenden County.
Though trailing Trump, Cruz and Rubio in most polls nationwide, Kasich has pledged to stay in the race until at least March 15, when Ohio holds its primary. The Ohio governor finished second in neighboring New Hampshire and hopes to do well in Vermont, too.
Kasich is devoting precious, last-minute primary time in Vermont in an effort to secure at least 20 percent of Super Tuesday’s Republican primary vote. If he doesn’t meet that mark, he won’t receive any of Vermont’s 16 delegates.
“If we didn’t think we could do it, we wouldn’t be here,” said Kasich.
Super Tuesday’s results will be a good indication of whether he or anyone can catch Donald Trump. Strategists have suggested that if Kasich (and Cruz and Rubio) can stay alive and make it to the 2016 Republican National Convention, delegates of the Republican Party will choose the party’s nominees for president — not Primary voters. The convention will be held July 18–21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. There are 2,472 delegates to the Republican National Convention, so a candidate needs a simple majority of 1,237 delegates to win the presidential nomination.
Sen. Peg Flory, R-Rutland, introduced Kasich before he took the stage in Castleton. She said Kasich was the Republicans’ best hope in a general election.
“The polls state that Governor Kasich is the one that can beat either Bernie or Hillary,” she said.
So far, state senators Flory, Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, and Rich Westman, R-Lamoille, have endorsed Kasich. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman also recently endorsed Kasich.
The Castleton audience was respectful and receptive, but asked Governor Kasich tough questions ranging from global warming to foreign policy, child pornography and human trafficking to how to make higher education more affordable. As he fielded questions, he often went out into the crowd so he could make eye contact with the person asking him a question. He did not evade any queries, rather answering each thoroughly and honestly.
When addressing the question about affordable higher education, asked by a 12-year-old, he said “You do not need to choose a college based on name brand.”
Kasich said of the 50,000 government employees working for him in the state of Ohio, he cannot remember asking any of them what college they went to. Having an education and being qualified and capable of doing their job is what is important.
Starting at a community college for two years, then transferring to a larger university can cut your college expenses in half, he said. Kasich also suggested taking college credit courses that are available while still in high school to eliminate having to pay for those classes once in college. Starting college with the proper skills is also important. There are too many students who have not gotten what they need from their high school education, and have to take remedial math or english their first year of college, he added. Those are credits they are paying for that they really should have learned free while in high school.
Kasich portrayed himself as a man of action, not just rhetoric and promises.