Despite repeated calls to drop out of the presidential race, Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, held an upbeat town hall at Madison’s Sheraton Hotel.
Kasich boasted his record as a fiscal conservative in Congress and his center right policies to a crowd of 400-some people.
Kasich began the town hall with a discussion on the threat of terrorism, which he described as a danger to people of all religions, not just Christians — as his opponents have suggested. Kasich called for an all-faith coalition to combat terrorism and better coordination among European agencies.
“NATO is an old organization from the Cold War era … it should shift towards policing extremism,” he said.
In combating extremism, Kasich said he would go beyond using air power and deploy ground forces to counter ISIS.
Kasich also recounted his time in the House of Representatives, highlighting how he exposed the Pentagon’s gross overspending. Kasich’s fiscal conservancy, even with regard to defense spending, is a significant separator between him and his rivals.
“The military wanted to buy over 100 B-2 Bombers,” Kasich said. “I didn’t win, but they only bought 32 planes.”
Kasich’s statement parallels his belief that the only way to fix big issues like Social Security is through compromise. Politics are an obstacle that may only be surpassed through mutual respect, he said.
Michael Zupan, University of Wisconsin sophomore, said this spirit of centrism and compromise appeals to him. He said Kasich is the only candidate who has shown a willingness to compromise.
This centrist appeal, Zupan said, extends to his policy initiatives.
“As a nuclear engineer, Kasich is the only candidate who has voiced concern over climate change while his rivals have denied it even exists,” Zupan said.
Regarding student debt, Kasich said there must be an effort to control cost increases from universities and then restructuring debt. The call from Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, to provide free tuition is unsustainable, he said.
Kasich attributed the problem of college graduates struggling to find employment to them choosing degrees that do not confer skills.
— Teymour Tomsyck (@Teymoreorless) March 28, 2016
“Go to your adviser and ask them what jobs you can actually get with your major,” he said.
Kasich said voting for his conservative policies would increase job growth while maintaining necessary safety net programs for vulnerable individuals. He said young people must learn that government should only be thought of as a last resort.