Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Tuesday that the country is faced with “two paths” this presidential election, billing himself as the GOP candidate who could lead the party away from “a path to darkness.”
Kasich, in a 30-minute speech delivered at the Women’s National Republican Club headquarters in midtown Manhattan, looked to build support for his underdog campaign by casting himself as a more experienced and uplifting alternative to rivals Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
“This election may well be one of the most consequential of many generations,” Kasich said, standing behind a podium with a sign that read “Two Paths.”
Kasich, the governor of Ohio, who did not name Trump or Cruz by name in the address, said one electoral path “exploits anger, encourages resentment, turns fear into hatred and divides people.”
“This path solves nothing, demeans our history, weakens our country and cheapens each of us,” Kasich said. “It has but one beneficiary and that is to the politician who speaks of it.”
He offered himself as being part of the “other” path, saying “it is from this higher path that we are offered a much greater view.”
“Uncertainty turns to peace because we reclaim our faith in the American ideals that have carried us upward before,” Kasich said.
Kasich, who is running second to Trump before New York’s April 19 primary, according to recent state polls, bashed Trump and Cruz’s campaign pledges, describing them as “hollow promises.”
He condemned what he called “disturbing” policy proposals, including Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from entering the country, and Cruz’s pledge to increase surveillance of U.S. Muslim communities in the wake of terrorist strikes by the Islamic State group.
“The response for some is to retreat into the past, to yearn for ‘the way things used to be,’ ” Kasich said. “To these people, today’s America is only seen as a broken place, and the people who did the breaking are ‘the other’: people with more money — or less money, people with different sounding last names, or different religious beliefs, or different colored skin or lifestyles.”
He argued the next president should unite the country and work with Democrats because “when we unite as a country America always wins.”
Kasich criticized the Republican presidential candidates for “viciously” attacking one another this primary season, saying “those who continuously push that type of behavior are not worthy of the office they are seeking.”
Despite trailing Trump and Cruz in the number of delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination, Kasich has rejected calls to drop out of the race, often touting polling figures that show him leading or running close to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup.
Kasich’s campaign is counting on none of the GOP candidates collecting the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, leading to a possible contested nominating convention in Cleveland in July.
The Trump and Cruz campaigns did not return requests for comment.