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Sep 2, 2015 11:18 PM

Steinhauser: In a divisive 2016 race, John Kasich stays calm and positive

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

HENNIKER – Call John Kasich the happy candidate.

In a brutal battle for the Republican presidential nomination that’s been marked this summer by anger, attacks, and counter attacks among many of the 17 declared contenders, the Ohio governor’s one of the few candidates who’s staying calm and positive.

“I’m enjoying myself. I’m being positive about things and the last couple of days I’ve been telling Americans I know we have problems but count your blessings. We have a great country and we’re lucky we live here,” Kasich told NH1 News in a one-on-one interview minutes before he held a town hall at New England College in Henniker.

He repeated the “count your blessings” line a few minutes later, as he addressed an audience of a couple of hundred people packed into the town hall. And he told the crowd that “If it takes mean and angry” to win the presidency, “count me out.”

“If it takes determination. If it takes a degree of toughness, count me in,” he added.

And if takes humor, Kasich should be OK.

Asked by NH1 News how he accounts for the rise in his poll numbers and crowd sizes, Kasich wisecracked that “it’s my humor. And we give away canned hams at every one of these events.”

He then looked directly into the NH1 News camera and added “we really don’t give away canned hams.”

Unlike some of his rivals for the nomination, Kasich doesn’t engage when it comes to criticizing GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump.

“I don’t talk about anybody else. I’m like a golfer who pays attention to my own game, not to somebody else’s and look, if I’m talking about somebody else, I’m not talking about balancing the federal budget, I was the chief architect, cutting taxes, fixing Ohio. I mean that’s what I want to talk about,” Kasich told NH1 News two recently.

Kasich’s latest interview came in the wake of the fatal shootings of a police officer in Illinois and another in Texas. Kasich said the slayings “are just outrageous.”

Asked if there’s an anti-police sentiment in the nation right now that may be feeding into the violence, Kasich pointed to his experiences in the Buckeye State.

“In Ohio, we try to bring community and police together, so that the community can understand that a policeman, a policewoman, needs to be able to go home at night to their family, their family waits in anticipation of them getting home. And secondly we try to work with police to understand the concerns that exist in the community. So it has to be constant communication,” he said.

Kasich spoke with NH1 News one day after telling reporters in Michigan that he favored a “reasonable” federal minimum wage. He added that Ohio’s minimum wage of $8.10 per hour, made sense for his state.

But when asked by NH1 News if a President Kasich would raise the nation’s minimum wage, the Ohio governor said “I would prefer that states continue to set their wages and in terms of the minimum wage that’s what I think is the best place we should be right now.”

New Hampshire doesn’t have a state minimum wage, which means the federal level of $7.25 per hour is the state standard. Legislation to raise the minimum wage in the Granite State was defeated this spring in the GOP led state legislature.

On his stance on birthright citizenship, which bestows automatic citizenship to those born in the United States to undocumented immigrants, Kasich said “we have a constitutional provision that says if you’re born here, you’re a citizen.”

The issue has divided many of the Republican presidential candidates.

But Kasich went on to say that “at the end of the day we need to get the wall up. We need to say to anyone that wants to come across that wall, once that wall’s up, that you’re going back. We don’t want any excuses. No more leniency on that. We’ll have a guest worker program, and the law abiding illegals that are here, if they have not violated the law, will pay a fine, wait their turn, assimilate, and be able to be here in a legal way.”

Kasich’s stop at New England College was just one stop in a jam-packed itinerary Wednesday in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Kasich returns to New Hampshire on Monday, for Labor Day.


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