The race for commander-in-chief made a pit stop in Huntington on Monday with Republican presidential candidate John Kasich (R-Ohio) stumping at The Paramount.
Kasich, the governor of Ohio, spoke face-to-face with New York voters ahead of the April 19 primary with hopes of gaining momentum against his Republican counterparts in the race. He received some of his loudest cheers from the audience after delivering a line about his approach toward what has been a contentious campaign cycle battling the likes of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“I may have been ignored for six months in my campaign because I spent my time taking the high road to the highest office, not the low road,” Kasich said.
Trump, a businessman, is currently leading in national polls as he has been for several months, but Kasich has been picking up speed as the Republican primaries make their way to the east coast. Real Clear Politics said Kasich has more than doubled his poll numbers from March 1 to April 1 going from 9 percent to almost 21 percent.
Audience members in the Huntington theater asked Kasich questions, many about whether or not he can actually take off the gloves and take on Trump, who has become known for his outlandish rhetoric and heated campaign rallies.
Kasich said while of course he could do it, he doesn’t necessarily want to.
“I don’t want to live in the negative lane,” he said. “I’ve got two 16-year-old twin daughters and a heck of a lot of people… in the state of Ohio who at this point are pretty proud of what I’ve done. I’ll fight, but I’m more interested in giving you the visual. I’d rather do it in a more positive, upbeat way, giving people hope.”
The governor tried to convince voters that he would be able to defeat both his Republican challengers, and eventually the future Democratic nominee by securing votes from both sides of the aisle.
“These things can’t get done with just one party,” he said. “If I’m president, we’ll have a conservative agenda, but we are not going to tell our friends in the other party to go away, to drop dead or demean them. We are going to invite them in. Before we’re Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans.”
In terms of specific policies, Kasich made several promises for his first 100 days in office, if he were to be elected.
“We will have a system that puts a freeze on all federal regulations except for health and safety, so we stop crushing small business,” he said. “I can tell you that we’re going to have lower taxes on businesses so they’ll invest in America and not in Europe, we’re going to have a simplified tax system with lower taxes for individuals and we’re going to have path to a balanced budget.”
He also addressed how he would handle immigration, an important subject to Suffolk County residents.
According to the Long Island Index, the number of white residents has declined in the past 10 years, as Hispanic and Asian populations have continued to grow. According to the United State Census, in 2014, foreign-born persons made up nearly 15 percent of the total population.
Kasich said he would implement a guest worker program that would help the 11.5 million illegal immigrants who have not committed a crime find a path to legalization.
“We’re not going to hunt you down,” he said.
Kasich said that Suffolk County is a diverse area with residents on all ends of the political spectrum, and he acknowledged he could represent more than just one party.
“I happen to be a Republican but the Republican Party is my vehicle, not my master,” Kasich said.