PLYMOUTH — As New York businessman Donald Trump found himself battling with hecklers over control of his rally in Virginia and US Senator Marco Rubio ridiculed Trump’s physical appearance, Ohio Governor John Kasich campaigned in Vermont and Massachusetts with what he described as a more positive message.
“What are we watching?” Kasich asked a crowd of 500 in Plymouth Monday afternoon, referring to the Trump-Rubio feud. “You know, we kind of laugh about it, but we are not electing class presidents or class clown. We are picking the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. I wanna tell you folks, there are people who say you oughta get in there and start hammering these people. And I tell you, I would rather lose than degrade myself.”
Later in a brief interview, Kasich said the entire campaign lately “is just beyond bizarre” and could hurt the Republican Party’s brand.
“I think anytime you have name-calling and things go downwards, I don’t think it is good for the Republican Party. But, look, if I were to become the nominee, it’s a whole new day,” Kasich said.
“You have to talk about Trump’s inexperience — that’s fine — but I am not going to talk about his personal characteristics, what he looks like, or how he sweats or anything.”
Kasich is one of five Republicans competing in Tuesday’s Massachusetts primary. A Suffolk University poll released Sunday show Trump in the lead with 43 percent supported followed by Rubio and Kasich in a statistical tie for second place with 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
In introducing Kasich in Plymouth Monday, state Representative Paul Frost of Auburn pointed out the event was the third town hall meeting Kasich has held in the state — versus zero held by any other candidates. Over the course of the past year Trump has visited Massachusetts four times, most of them large-scale rallies.
Kasich’s appearance was the first time in recent memory that a presidential candidate had visited the town. (Beverly Ness, reference associate at the Plymouth Public Library offered that the only time a sitting president has visited Plymouth was Warren G. Harding in 1921.)
His appearance in the area helped secure at least one vote. Connie Spiros, 61, of Milton was already leaning to Kasich before she saw him speak.
“He speaks about things he actually accomplish and promises he can keep,” Spiros said.James Pindell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at www.bostonglobe.com/groundgame