Kasich Keeps Head Up, |Stays Positive in Wis.

     WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CN) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich might have taken a shellacking at the polls Tuesday night, but on Wednesday he received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from hundreds of supporters at a town hall just outside of Milwaukee.
     The previous 24 hours had been difficult ones for Kasich. He made a big effort to score a victory in Utah only to come away from Tuesday’s contest with not a single delegate, and in Arizona he came in more than 18,000 votes behind Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race for the White House a week ago.
     The indignities continued to pile up when Mitt Romney recorded a robocall supporting eventual Utah winner, Sen. Ted Cruz, and ended this morning when former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush also threw his support behind the senator from Texas.
     But as entered the Crowne Plaza in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa on Wednesday, Kasich appeared to be buoyed by the standing-room only crowd.
     It also didn’t hurt that he’d just received word of the latest Quinnipiac University poll that suggests he’s the Republican best positioned to beat the Democratic nominee this fall.
     He urged his listeners to learn more about him before Wisconsin’s April 5 primary, and asked, if they liked what they learned, to unite behind his campaign.
     With that, it was on to the aspect of campaigning on which Kasich seems to thrive, a vigorous question and answer session that he peppers with jokes and personal anecdotes.
Throughout the session a frequent foil was former Wis. Gov. Tommy Thompson, who was seated in the front row.
     Kasich wasted little time, in answering the inevitable question about his future, in ruling out the possibility of joining the ticket of either Cruz or the current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump.
     “I’m going to be nobody’s vice president, OK?” Kasich said. “Just so you know.”
     As if to underscore the point, the governor did not hesitate to call out both Republicans for harsh statements they’ve made about Muslims and immigrants.
     “It’s not about patrolling neighborhoods,” he said, referencing Cruz’s proposal to have police closely monitor neighborhoods with large numbers of Muslim residents in the wake of Tuesday’s fatal bombings in Brussels, Belgium.
     “It’s not about shutting our borders down,” Kasich said letter, referring to Trump’s planned mass deportations.
     Instead, Kasich said, the United States needs to strengthen its ties with Muslim countries and enlist the help of individual “Muslim friends” in “defeating ISIS.”
     Many Muslims, he assured the crowd, hate the terrorist group as much as anyone.
     Kasich said he has three main objectives he wants to pursue as president: “commonsense regulation” of business, lowering taxes and balancing the federal budget, a feat he help accomplish during his years in Congress in the 1990s.
     Thompson introduced Kasich with a much more recent piece of history, namely the 15th-seeded University of Wisconsin’s defeat of 2nd-seeded Xavier College in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, with a buzzer-beater that took the score from a recent tie to a Wisconsin win.
     “Unless you shoot the shot that goes in, you don’t win,” Thompson thundered to a cheering crowd.
     Speaking after the rally, Wauwatosa West High School student Aubrianna Mierow said she switched to team Kasich when Marco Rubio dropped out of the race.
     Kasich appeals to her, she said, because he’s moderate and talks about bipartisanship – instead of the “anger”-driven conservatism of Trump and Cruz.
     “That speaks to someone who is a young Republican,” said Mierow, who will be attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in the fall.
     But Trump was not a complete pariah at the event.
     Carl Toepel of Howard’s Grove, Wis. came prepared with a handmade, laminated sign: “Trump/Kasich.”
     Out of respect for the governor, Toepel kept it in this jacket, preparing to take it out only after he was done speaking.
     “I think this is the winning ticket,” said Toepel, who travels to New Hampshire every four years to participate in the primary there.
     Though Toepel said he has “much respect” for Kasich, he also said “he’s not going to make the nomination.”
     For his part, Kasich still believes he has a chance, especially with independent assessments like the new Quinnipiac poll in his pocket.

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