Attending John Kasich’s New Hampshire Town Hall

 
John Kasich speaks in a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, NH

John Kasich speaks in a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, NH

John Kasich is in Wolfeboro, N.H., for a town hall meeting at the Brewster Academy boat house overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. “Isn’t this beautiful?” He asks. “We love you,” says an older woman sitting in the front row. “Thank you,” says Kasich. “It’s always good to have your aunt in the crowd,” he jokes.

He’s standing surrounded by about 150 people who are sitting in chairs arranged around him. “Boy, this really is theater in the round,” he observes. Kasich has a slick operation. When I arrive he’s out front being interviewed by the media. He has guards with earpieces and sunglasses. There are stage lights in the room. The whole thing is being recorded.

Kasich is pronounced “kay-sick,” not “case-itch,” in case you’re wondering. “I used to be a big star on Fox, anyone remember that?” he deadpans before ticking off his other accomplishments.

He met President Nixon when he was an 18-year-old freshman in college: “They said I could have five minutes with him in the Oval Office, I took 20!” He was the only Republican to defeat an incumbent Democrat in 1982, when he ran as a Reagan Republican at a time Reagan wasn’t all that popular (“This was before the recovery started”). He was a member of the House Armed Services Committee for six years, he chaired the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, and was the author of the balanced budget. He left Congress after 18 years to work in the private sector (Lehman Brothers). He ran for and was elected governor of Ohio in 2010 and turned a multi-billion dollar state deficit into a surplus.

Vince, an elderly gentlemen standing next to me, asked whether Kasich thought McConnell and Boehner were doing a good job and whether the three branches of government were corrupt. Kasich’s answers were, essentially, yes and no. “He just lost me with that answer,” says Vince.

A woman near us seems to be dissatisfied with Kasich’s response to her own question: Should Planned Parenthood be defunded? Kasich says there should be reforms. The woman repeats, “defund!” Kasich says he’s pro-life, then talks for a few minutes. “He didn’t answer my question,” the woman mutters.

She and Vince talk quietly to each other through the next question, which was about the “military industrial complex receiving billions of dollars.” I miss most of the answer, but Kasich says someone has to build our weapons, and we need more weapons. We need to rebuild our nuclear fleet. Earlier in the meeting, when Kasich was recounting his meeting with Nixon, he had said he met Nixon for a second time in 1987, and the former president had advised him, “Pay attention to foreign policy!”

The “child’s advocate” seems satisfied with Kasich’s answer to her question about pre-K education. “I’m for it.” He says. “Not universal, but for those who can’t afford it. We didn’t need government assistance to send our children”—he means he and his wife, not he and the woman in the crowd — “but we did. So I support it. The proof’s in the pudding.” He asks her to give her card to his people afterwards.

One man has an extended colloquy with Kasich about entitlement programs. “In the state of Florida, there was a study I read, they were spending more on fraud then on benefits,” says the man. Kasich says you have to try to reduce fraud, but there’s no line-item in the budget for it. You have to go find it. And eliminating fraud will not save the programs. There have to be structural reforms.

Kasich points out that he had put forward, back in the ’90s, a plan to reform social security. Younger people would have started at a lower pay out, but they would have had the option to invest a portion of the funds in private funds. “Of course no one voted for it,” Kasich says. The man in the crowd seems to be supportive of social security, but he then suggests that the program should be optional. “I’m not in favor of that,” says Kasich.

john kasich max ledouxAfterwards I ask the governor, “What if Iran gets a bomb? What are you going to do?”

“Well, we don’t want it to get to that point obviously,” he says, adding that we would need to put the sanctions back in place. “If it gets to that, we’ll have to respond.”

“Militarily,” I say.

“Not necessarily,” he replies, looking me in the eye. Is he trying to figure out which way I lean on the question? “We don’t want to broadcast that we’re going to go to war.” If we do that, we have to go over there. There are lots of ramifications.

“We don’t want Iran to drop a bomb on Israel,” I say.

“Absolutely not,” he says. “We’re very clear” that Israel must be defended.

“I’m the father of two Marine combat veterans,” says a man over my shoulder. “Our current president is decimating the military. This man will rebuild the military!” He shakes Kasich’s hand.

“He’s a politician,” says Vince afterwards. “All these politicians. He was in Washington 18 years. He’s part of the problem. He thinks there’s no corruption in Washington? We don’t need more politicians.”

But many of the attendees, wearing “Kasich is for US” shirts and stickers, are enthusiastic for the governor of Ohio.

Disclaimer: All quotes are from memory.

There are 30 comments.

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  1. user_473455 Inactive
    user_473455
    @BenjaminGlaser

    I think pols need to be attuned to the fact that folks are not interested in mealy mouth answers to questions. People are just tired of platitudes and hemming and hawing plying both sides of the coin. Obviously there must be nuance, and almost nothing is a “yes/no” answer, but just give a straight answer please.

    This is why (as has been noted ad naseum) Trump is popular.

    • #1
  2. Butters Inactive
    Butters
    @CommodoreBTC

    Kasich has as much contempt for the base as Jeb, but he’s not nearly as good at hiding it.

    He loves telling us “hard truths” and will be easily baited into doing so in the debates (if he even makes the top tier). Then he will be finished, like Huntsman was.

    • #2
  3. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    Benjamin Glaser:I think pols need to be attuned to the fact that folks are not interested in mealy mouth answers to questions. People are just tired of platitudes and hemming and hawing plying both sides of the coin. Obviously there must be nuance, and almost nothing is a “yes/no” answer, but just give a straight answer please.

    This is why (as has been noted ad naseum) Trump is popular.

    Bingo! It’s the GOP’s fault that Trump leads the polls and that we have 17 candidates.

    • #3
  4. user_473455 Inactive
    user_473455
    @BenjaminGlaser

    HeartofAmerica:

    Benjamin Glaser:I think pols need to be attuned to the fact that folks are not interested in mealy mouth answers to questions. People are just tired of platitudes and hemming and hawing plying both sides of the coin. Obviously there must be nuance, and almost nothing is a “yes/no” answer, but just give a straight answer please.

    This is why (as has been noted ad naseum) Trump is popular.

    Bingo! It’s the GOP’s fault that Trump leads the polls and that we have 17 candidates.

    I don’t understand your point or what it has to do with what I posted.

    • #4
  5. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Based on that description, I am totally unimpressed.

    Boehner and McConnell are doing a good job? Really?

    Israel must be defended, but not by, you know, doing anything difficult.

    Planned Parenthood – there must be reforms, likely of the meaningless, do-nothing type to provide political cover. Not defund.

    Pre-K education has been studied, (at least Headstart has) and it didn’t make any difference. He says the proof is in the pudding, but the proof already exists, but he likes it anyway cuz it polls well.

    Utterly useless, generic politician.

    • #5
  6. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I spent lots of my summers on that lake.

    Kasich isn’t dynamic enough to spring forward but he’s better than alot of them running now.  BTW, I expect his budget deficit in Ohio was multi-billion and not multi-trillion.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @JohnPaul

    Kasich is one of my least favorite candidates.

    • #7
  8. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    John Paul:Kasich is one of my least favorite candidates.

    What about respecting Boehner and McConnell plus ignoring corruption isn’t to like.   18 years in DC causes a touch of intellectual cataracts apparently.

    • #8
  9. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Kasich is decent pork. We want beef. The other white meat won’t do.

    He’s from an era when it was thought cool and sophisticated to be one of those McCain-like, so-called mavericks.  That’s so ’90s and we’re so over it.  Also, that only really impressed the New York Times (and McCain).  It’s working in Blue Ohio . . . happy for that, but it doesn’t translate well elsewhere.

    If the ticket is headed by, say, Cruz then there might be utility in Kasich delivering Ohio. But that’s a lot of assumptions.

    • #9
  10. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Metalheaddoc: Pre-K education has been studied, (at least Headstart has) and it didn’t make any difference. He says the proof is in the pudding, but the proof already exists, but he likes it anyway cuz it polls well.

    The proof that he supports Pre-K is in the pudding because he sent his own children to Pre-K on his own dime. He wasn’t saying the proof is in the pudding that Pre-K is successful. Although, you can reason that because of that he does think it’s successful.

    I was underwhelmed by his Iran answer. I’m not sure if he was trying to figure out what I wanted to hear (if so, he failed, since I am in favor of dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran tomorrow–hey, I’m not running for president), or if he doesn’t have a real position on the issue, or if he really thinks that it’s a god bargaining chip to act like we’re not going to go to war.

    He has a good economic record. In a candidate field rich with options, he’s not in my top tier. But as I told Vince, “hey, if it’s between him or Hillary…” To which he replied, “Or Bernie! Or that clown who used to be the governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore!”

    • #10
  11. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    DocJay:BTW, I expect his budget deficit in Ohio was multi-billion and not multi-trillion.

    Thanks, I fixed it.

    • #11
  12. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I was mostly checking to see if you just scanned my comment for curses and death threats. ;-)

    I’m curious how he can possibly out charisma Walker or out schmooze Jeb. I can’t see that happening even though he is qualified for the job.

    • #12
  13. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    DocJay:I spent lots of my summers on that lake.

    Kasich isn’t dynamic enough to spring forward but he’s better than alot of them running now. BTW, I expect his budget deficit in Ohio was multi-billion and not multi-trillion.

    Pawlenty with messier hair.

    • #13
  14. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    John Paul:Kasich is one of my least favorite candidates.

    He’s going to arm wrestle Jon Huntsman for the right to challenge Fred Thompson to a 100 meter mosey.

    • #14
  15. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    There can be only one!

    • #15
  16. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    DocJay:There can be only one!

    ThunderYawn

    • #16
  17. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

    I say this every time Max files one of these wonderful reports: democracy sure is different in New Hampshire than in California.

    • #17
  18. user_966411 Member
    user_966411
    @

    I think another problem with him is that Kasich just isn’t charismatic enough, in those shallow times.

    • #18
  19. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Max Ledoux:

    Metalheaddoc: Pre-K education has been studied, (at least Headstart has) and it didn’t make any difference. He says the proof is in the pudding, but the proof already exists, but he likes it anyway cuz it polls well.

    The proof that he supports Pre-K is in the pudding because he sent his own children to Pre-K on his own dime. He wasn’t saying the proof is in the pudding that Pre-K is successful. Although, you can reason that because of that he does think it’s successful.

    So because he sent his kids to Pre-K in the private sector and liked it, it needs to be made into a public taxpayer funded program for poor kids? And that will work as well for them as for his kids? It’s already been tried and hasn’t made a long term difference in educational outcomes. This is the way liberals think. “Hey, this is a good idea and I have seen it work. So lets make a big bloated government program with unions and non-profits and it will work for everyone else and save money!” And if the program doesn’t work, just shovel in more money.

    • #19
  20. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Metalheaddoc: So because he sent his kids to Pre-K in the private sector and liked it, it needs to be made into a public taxpayer funded program for poor kids? And that will work as well for them as for his kids?

    That is pretty much what I took away from his answer.

    • #20
  21. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Anyone else remember when Kasich said if you didn’t support the Medicaid expansion you would answer for it when you got to heaven?

    Just me?  Why is he being taken seriously?

    • #21
  22. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Frank Soto:Anyone else remember when Kasich said if you didn’t support the Medicaid expansion you would answer for it when you got to heaven?

    Just me? Why is he being taken seriously?

    To hold off the Huntsman surge.

    • #22
  23. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Pseudodionysius:

    Frank Soto:Anyone else remember when Kasich said if you didn’t support the Medicaid expansion you would answer for it when you got to heaven?

    Just me? Why is he being taken seriously?

    To hold off the Huntsman surge.

    Its an elementary rule that if you flood the market with bad product the individual value of each product drops. Its also a clever way of making someone like Scott Walker look appealing to the general electorate when there’s 7,256 varieties of Huntsman Ultra Brite Toothpaste on the market and 1 bottle of Turpentine-Trumpentine paint thinner mouth wash.

    • #23
  24. iDad Inactive
    iDad
    @iDad

    Frank Soto:Anyone else remember when Kasich said if you didn’t support the Medicaid expansion you would answer for it when you got to heaven?

    Just me? Why is he being taken seriously?

    I remember.

    I don’t know why he would be anyone’s choice.

    • #24
  25. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    iDad:

    Frank Soto:Anyone else remember when Kasich said if you didn’t support the Medicaid expansion you would answer for it when you got to heaven?

    Just me? Why is he being taken seriously?

    I remember.

    I don’t know why he would be anyone’s choice.

    His chiseled Hollywood good looks?

    • #25
  26. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Pseudodionysius: Its an elementary rule that if you flood the market with bad product the individual value of each product drops. Its also a clever way of making someone like Scott Walker look appealing to the general electorate when there’s 7,256 varieties of Huntsman Ultra Brite Toothpaste on the market and 1 bottle of Turpentine-Trumpentine paint thinner mouth wash.

    Who is flooding the market? I don’t understand what you mean. Sure, 16 is a lot of candidates, but they all decided individually to run.

    • #26
  27. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Max Ledoux:

    Pseudodionysius: Its an elementary rule that if you flood the market with bad product the individual value of each product drops. Its also a clever way of making someone like Scott Walker look appealing to the general electorate when there’s 7,256 varieties of Huntsman Ultra Brite Toothpaste on the market and 1 bottle of Turpentine-Trumpentine paint thinner mouth wash.

    Who is flooding the market? I don’t understand what you mean. Sure, 16 is a lot of candidates, but they all decided individually to run.

    And someone has to agree to fund their campaign don’t they? If Pseudo D And Max the Sys Admin run on the Inquisition Party ticket we have to find someone willing to fund our counter jihadi crusade.

    • #27
  28. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Pseudodionysius:

    Max Ledoux:

    Pseudodionysius: Its an elementary rule that if you flood the market with bad product the individual value of each product drops. Its also a clever way of making someone like Scott Walker look appealing to the general electorate when there’s 7,256 varieties of Huntsman Ultra Brite Toothpaste on the market and 1 bottle of Turpentine-Trumpentine paint thinner mouth wash.

    Who is flooding the market? I don’t understand what you mean. Sure, 16 is a lot of candidates, but they all decided individually to run.

    And someone has to agree to fund their campaign don’t they? If Pseudo D And Max the Sys Admin run on the Inquisition Party ticket we have to find someone willing to fund our counter jihadi crusade.

    I don’t know how likely that is. No one expects the Inquisition.

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @JohnPaul

    The Obama years were preceded by the GWB years. The GWB years saw an expansion of Medicare. Not awesome. The Kasich years would expand other parts of the welfare state in the name of “compassion.” I am in support of a safety net, but universal pre-K!!! I don’t think I could vote for Kasich…

    • #29
  30. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    John Paul:The Obama years were preceded by the GWB years. The GWB years saw an expansion of Medicare. Not awesome. The Kasich years would expand other parts of the welfare state in the name of “compassion.” I am in support of a safety net, but universal pre-K!!! I don’t think I could vote for Kasich…

    To be fair, he explicitly said “not universal.” But he thinks it should be funded for poor people.

    • #30

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