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Ohio Gov. John Kasich stumps for votes from "border folks" in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich is hoping Michigan voters will be drawn to him, by Midwestern kinship at least.

The Ohio governor campaigned in Michigan today, a day before Thursday’s big Republican debate in Detroit.

Kasich admitted, to an overflow crowd at a town hall event in Grand Blanc, that Michigan is not usually the most fertile ground for an Ohio politician to seek support. But he urged people to vote for him in next week’s Michigan primary, rather than his Republican rivals from New York, Florida or Texas.

“We are border folks, OK. It’s better that than someone who lives a thousand miles away,” Kasich said with a laugh.

Distance was not the only difference Kasich tried to highlight during the nearly hour-long town hall.

He returned to the need for politicians from both sides of the aisle to work together.  

Kasich talked about how he disagrees with Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi “90%” of the time. But Kasich says that has not prevented them from being able to work together.

During his town hall, people asked Kasich about his positions on higher education funding, tax policy and economic competitiveness.

After the speech, reporters were more interested in Kasich’s views of the Flint water crisis. The Ohio governor would not criticize his Michigan counterpart’s response to the crisis, saying he thought Gov. Rick Snyder has done “everything he can."

Kasich was just as limited in his comments about former presidential candidate Ben Carson. Carson announced today he no longer sees a “path” going forward for his presidential campaign. The neurosurgeon and Detroit native is expected to spell out his plans on Friday. 

Kasich says he spoke with Carson today, only saying, “I think he held his head high and he's a very, very good man."

Carson’s absence will mean Kasich will be one of four Republican candidates at Thursday’s GOP presidential debate stage.

It’s possible that Kasich needs a very good finish at next week’s Michigan’s presidential primary to keep his campaign alive, at least until Ohio’s primary a week later.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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