BATH, Mich. — Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrapped up a two-stop presidential campaign swing through Michigan on Tuesday at an event sponsored by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Kasich, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, discussed small government and state autonomy before an audience of small-business owners, business leaders and local officials.
The event marked Kasich’s fourth visit to the state since he announced his candidacy in July — the most of any presidential candidate this election season.
Kasich is currently polling 8th in the Republican field, averaging 5 percent, according to a combination of polls from RealClear Politics.
Joe Ford, chair-elect of the Lansing Regional Chamber Board of Directors, introduced Kasich and joked that despite football rivalries, Michigan and Ohio are still neighbors with shared experiences.
Ford said Michiganders can appreciate Kasich’s achievements in Ohio, as Gov. Rick Snyder has led parallel reforms in the state.
“One of his major accomplishments was taking an $8 billion budget deficit and turning it into a $2 billion budget surplus, and in that process cutting $5 billion in corporate taxes,” Ford said. “That’s something in Michigan we can appreciate, because it’s the same kind of turnaround we’ve experienced and we’ve participated in and that our governor has led us through as well.”
Kasich echoed Ford’s sentiment, beginning his speech by expressing his respect for Snyder and his successes in Michigan, and saying Snyder is an example of a creative state leader.
Kasich said he felt a responsibility to help Ohio when he ran for governor, and related his experience with that of Snyder’s.
“I went in (in Ohio), and we were really just like Governor Snyder, we really were in a deep hole, 20 percent of our operating budget, and so I took on the same approach (as Snyder),” he said.
During his speech, Kasich also stressed Michigan’s importance to his campaign ahead of the primary elections.
“This is my fourth trip here. I’m going to be here quite a bit, because I consider Michigan to be very important in this primary process,” Kasich said.
Several state politicians, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Rick Jones (R–Grand Ledge), state Rep. Tom Leonard (R–DeWitt) and U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R–Mich.) attended Tuesday’s event. Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, also attended.
Kasich highlighted his plan to give states more autonomy and power to implement their own initiatives, citing examples of his own experiences as a governor coping with federal funding and regulations on issues such as welfare and job training.
“Let me train my workers, let me reform welfare, let me send a lot of these resources back to the states so we can run our education programs,” he said. “There are so many of these areas where we need to restore power where we live.”
He said as president, he would visit all 50 state capitals to share best policy practices from across the country.
Kasich said the federal government should keep states accountable as they implement policies but should have a more moderate influence and encourage innovation, which he said was sometimes hampered by regulation.
“We can actually have a clearinghouse at the federal level so that when states want to be particularly creative and innovative, we remove the restrictions so they can have a shot at being able to do something differently,” he said. “We have to have the ability to be willing to take risks to serve the public.”
Kasich briefly touched on a number of national policy issues as well, stating, in particular, that he believes the surest way to improve the economy overall is by passing a balanced budget.
“We have to get on a roadmap to economic security, which means a balanced budget: planned, legitimate, over time,” he said.