MANSFIELD, Ohio (CN) - After the specter of violence shut down his opponent's rally, Gov. John Kasich told his supporters Saturday that voters are ready to see a more mature candidate.
Speaking at a town-hall meeting in his home state where voters cast their ballots Tuesday, the Republican governor said Ohio knows he can get the job done without playing dirty.
"I'd like you to reward a campaign that has been unwaveringly positive," Kasich said, promising to "never create a toxic atmosphere."
A day before Kasich held court at the Gorman-Rupp Pump Co., one of the largest employers in the north-central Ohio city of Mansfield, predictions of a dustup between supporters and protesters of Donald Trump led the primary's front-runner to cancel his appearance in Chicago.
Trump's polarizing campaign has not hurt him at the polls so far, but U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi urged perseverance from the 500 voters gathered to see Kasich.
"Would Urban Meyer say the game is over?" he asked, invoking the Ohio State football coach who has also stumped for Kasich.
"It's halftime, and on Tuesday we're going to get a reset in this race."
Joined at the town hall by his wife and daughters, Kasich reminded the crowd of his accomplishments as governor of Ohio since 2011.
"We are up over 400,000 jobs," Kasich said. "We balanced a budget that was $8 billion in the hole, and now we've got a $2 billion surplus. We are sending a message across America and around the world that Ohio is open for business."
Though the Akron Beacon Journal painted a less rosy portrait of Ohio's economy with its article on the Buckeye State's 15-year slide, the newspaper nevertheless endorsed Kasich three days after publishing that March 6 report.
Kasich tried appealing to business acumen that has been a focal point for voters in this Republican primary, saying they would be "hiring a CEO" if they elect him.
"I'm not going to spend time looking at polls and focus groups," he said, "and I'm not going to worry about getting re-elected."
Selecting a cabinet may be far off, but Kasich is already filling out his vice president's calendar.
"Right now, the vice president goes to funerals. I will give my vice president something to do," Kasich said, identifying the first order of business as "undoing regulations."
The governor also discussed creating a People's Court with a bit more heft than Judge Wapner brought for televisions viewers, saying his version would provide a voice in the federal government for business owners.
Kasich added that welfare and education programs should be run more locally, rather than from Washington, "where they don't know what time zone it is in Ohio."
He advocated internships for students with local businesses as part of his education plan.
"Students can come here and spend a few hours with [Gorman-Rupp CEO] Jeff Gorman, and that will show them how math works," Kasich said. "It will change from something theoretical to something real."
Veterans can also expect better health care in a Kasich presidency, the governor promised.
"You will be able to get health care wherever you want," he said. "You won't have to wait in line to get permission."
As for security along the Mexican border, a favored topic of Trump, Kasich called for a diplomatic resolution.
"We need to control the border and get this issue behind us, so we're not tearing each other apart in this country," he said.
During a question-and-answer session at the end of the event, Kasich said the U.S. military needed to destroy the Islamic State terrorists "in the air and on the ground."
Kasich also advocated solar and wind power and said better communication can repair the strain in community relations with police.
Kasich concluded his remarks by saying that "the country needs to come together."
"The world is watching what is happening in Ohio," he added. "I want you to get out and vote for me and give me a chance to become the president of the United States."
After the governor left, Anita Eikenberry of Kokomo, Ind., said he was "genuine, focused and determined, and he has a love for the underdog."
Gorman, the CEO whose business hosted Saturday's event, said he has supported Kasich since his first gubernatorial run.
"He gets it," Gorman said. "He understands the challenges of business and America."
Dave Burnett, from the University of Akron, was one of three college students wearing Kasich buttons who arrived two hours early at the Gorman-Rupp facility.
"I think he is the most reasonable candidate in the entire election," Burnett said, "and he gives the Republicans the best chance to take back the White House."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Kasich is tied with Trump in one poll and leading him by six points in another.
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