Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) presidential campaign stop at the Michigan Union on Wednesday didn’t go quite as planned, but it did go on — after his flight from New York to Michigan was delayed, the presidential hopeful called in instead.
A small crowd of about 40 people gathered in the Rogel Ballroom for the event, held over the University of Michigan’s spring break. The town hall was intended to kick off a slate of Michigan campaign events ahead of a GOP debate in Detroit Thursday, and the state’s primary Monday.
Regent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park) introduced the event, endorsing Kasich for president.
“Having been through a couple elections here in Michigan, I think I know what the voters are looking for in a candidate, and I think Governor Kasich embodies the kind of person we want to lead this country,” Richner said.
Richner also stressed the importance of nominating someone who could win a general election against Hillary Clinton, saying he believed Kasich was the candidate with the best chance to do so.
Once connected by phone, Kasich apologized to the crowd for not being able to make it to the event.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there today; I’m going to be in Michigan a lot here in the next few days, and hopefully I can get somewhere near where you are and apologize to you personally,” he said.
Despite currently sitting fourth — second to last — in the Republican presidential race behind Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Tex.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), Kasich said he felt pretty good moving forward from this week’s Super Tuesday Republican primaries, in which he won zero out of eleven states up for contention.
He said he hopes to do well in the forthcoming Michigan primary, as well as win his home state of Ohio on March 15.
“To be honest with you, I do understand a lot of the appeal of Donald Trump because people are frustrated,” Kasich said. “But what has been happening lately is we’ve been electing outsiders who make promises and then they go to Washington and don’t get anything done, and the frustration just builds higher and higher.”
Kasich asked the crowd for their vote, promising to utilize his experience to create higher wages through business growth, expand the middle class and help reduce the cost of college education.
Acknowledging his alma mater Ohio State University, Kasich said jokingly that he hopes Michiganders wouldn’t have a hard time trusting him given that he’s “from that state down south.”
“Just make sure you have your khakis the next time you’re in town,” Richner told the governor in response.
Ohio state Sen. Keith Faber (R), president of the Senate, was also at the event to give remarks on behalf of Kasich.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Faber said he thought college students should vote for Kasich because he is the only presidential candidate with a proven track record of reducing college expenses, noting college affordability pushes he instituted as governor.
“Kasich believes that a college student’s future is more important than his future, which is why if I were a college student I would be voting for him,” Faber said.
Faber also noted Kasich’s fiscally responsible leadership, pointing to how the state of Ohio’s savings account was 89 cents when Kasich entered office and now has over 2 billion dollars in it, a success he thinks could translate to the federal government.
“He is the only presidential candidate that I have heard insist on a federal balanced budget amendment and a plan to balance budget in day one,” Faber said.
Rackham student Janelle Kirsch, who attended the event, said she had been following Kasich since last summer and was looking forward to getting to hear him speak in person.
“Clearly I’m disappointed that Kasich couldn’t come, but I understand that things like this happen,” Kirsch said. “Hopefully he can come back another time.”