RAYMOND, N.H. — Holding his 94th town hall with New Hampshire voters, Ohio Governor John Kasich made his pitch to a crowd of roughly 100 people that he’s a rare moderate in the Republican field who can work with people from both sides of the aisle and acknowledges that carbon emissions have contributed to climate change.
Kasich made it clear he was not a Democrat, reminding voters that he is a fiscal conservative who believes local and state government can often solve problems better than their federal counterparts and is “pro-life [with] exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother,” but he’s no hard-line Republican either.
“The Republican Party is my vehicle. It’s never been my master. I am an Ohioan. I am an American,” he said, calling himself a coalition builder who once brought U2’s Bono together with the conservative Senator Jesse Helms to work on debt relief and public health issues in Africa. “Everybody wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
He also said that he favors a milder tone than the brashness of some of his competitors, but he never shies from a challenge. “I’m going to fight for what I believe in,” he said. “I am not a marshmallow. I am a leader with strong opinions. But you just can’t run over people.”
Asked about the environment, Kasich acknowledged that humans have played a role in climate change and said he supports a varied energy policy that includes solar and other renewables as well as nuclear power — “or, as George Bush used to say, ‘nucular,’ ” Kasich said, ribbing the former president.
Along the way, Kasich salted his stump speech and q-and-a at the VFW hall here with endearingly corny jokes. He addressed a woman in big sunglasses as “Jackie O.,” asked a retired agricultural teacher if he had been “out standing in his field,” and reminded a voter who mispronounced his name that it “rhymes with basic, OK?” — all while telling New Hampshire voters that he really needs them.
“If I get smoked here, if I get killed, the bottom of the pack, I’m going home to Ohio,” said Kasich, who prioritized the New Hampshire primary over the Iowa caucuses. “But I really want to go on, and it’s going to depend on this state, how well I do, so I really ask for your support and hope you can help me.”