Ohio Gov. John Kasich is making his pitch to Pennsylvanians looking for an alternative to his fellow Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the state’s primary election on April 26.
At a campaign stop in Hershey on Friday morning, Kasich paced a stage with a handheld microphone, his “town hall” having the feel of a fireside chat as he described his childhood in McKees Rocks, just north of Pittsburgh.
“All blue collar, all conservative, all God-fearing,” said Kasich. “And, frankly, you could take those people and you could substitute them for Trump supporters and I’ll tell you why … you played by the rules and you could sometimes get the shaft.”
Trump leads among registered Republican votes in Pennsylvania, according to a recent Franklin & Marshall College poll, but Kasich follows him closely, with Cruz 10 percentage points behind.
“Ultimately, the nominee of the party is the one that defines the party,” Kasich said. “And, by the way … I’m the only one who consistently beats Hillary Clinton because I can get the crossover votes and the Democrats.”
Kasich faced a tougher crowd Friday afternoon as he addressed a gathering of conservatives in Camp Hill, Cumberland County.
A line from Kasich about teachers being “underpaid” wasn’t particularly well received. During a question-and-answer period, one woman stood to say that she disagreed with the Ohio governor.
“What do you want, to just eliminate teachers? Come on,” said Kasich. “Well … if you want to cut teachers’ pay, I’m not in favor of it.”
People in the audience shifted in their seats and mumbled their dissent. Kasich’s speech was followed by a panel slamming Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposals to increase taxes to pump more money into education. It was called, “Tax, Borrow & Spend: How Wolf’s Agenda Harms Pennsylvanians.”
“There’s a murmur in the crowd,” said Kasich, “and I enjoy it.”