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John Kasich says he’ll win GOP nod because he can beat Clinton

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich holds

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich holds 6-month-old Easton Lynn of Salisbury Center, N.Y. while speaking during a campaign event at the Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, N.Y. on Friday, April 15, 2016. Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

UTICA — Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday told voters that he’s the only Republican who can keep Hillary Clinton from the White House and preached a message of hope during an event here Friday.

“We can go two ways,” Kasich told about 500 attentive, quiet voters in one of the town hall settings he prefers. “I can tell you how bad everything is and everyone is beating us all the time . . . or I can tell you that there are realistic and practical ways to solve the problems. and not just negativity and knashing of teeth.”

Kasich, a former congressman, repeatedly talked about the “spirt of America.” He said that spirit remains strong today despite the bombast of Donald Trump that is taking advantage of the anger of voters. In Rochester on Sunday, Trump had declared, “The American dream is dead.”

Speaking in a gym at Mohawk Valley Community College, Kasich said, “With adult leadership both as a president and in Congress, we can fix these things that bother us. We have to believe that, together, we can fix these problems.”

He said that means working with Democrats as he did in Congress on the Armed Services Committee to confront the Soviet Union, and working with European and Middle Eastern countries as well as Muslim Americans to help root out radical Muslim terrorism.

Kasich said his goal for the New York primary on Tuesday is simply to win some delegates if he can, then take the fight to the nominating convention this summer in his home state.

“The argument becomes, Who can win in the fall?” Kasich said. “Because if you can’t win in the fall, you lose the Supreme Court . . . and from the White House to the statehouse.”

A Fox News poll released Friday found that while Trump has expanded his lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kasich remains the only GOP candidate who could beat Clinton. Trump had a 45-27 percent lead over Cruz, while Kasich had 25 percent in a continued slow rise.

“Electability (in primaries) is a lower priority for many core Republican primary voters,” said Kevin Madden, a national Republican strategist from New York who isn’t working for a candidate in the race. “Instead, they’re indicating their top priority is having a nominee who is fresh and new and can ‘shake up the status quo. ‘ Trump and Cruz have just outperformed Governor Kasich on that criteria.”

But if Kasich can make into a contested nominating convention, he has a shot, Madden said.

“He’s best positioned with party delegates who, unlike the larger party electorate, care more about winning in November,” Madden said Friday.

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