Kasich talks financial and healthcare reform on Watertown visit
North Country voters got a chance to ask Ohio Governor John Kasich questions Friday in Watertown. The presidential candidate's town hall event attracted more than 500 people. The crowd ranged from older voters, to high school students gearing up to vote for the first time.
Outside the Bruce Wright Memorial Conference Center in Watertown Friday morning, the mood was calm as people waited in line to see and hear from Kasich in person. There were no protestors at this event, but a few supporters made sure to wear red hats reading Kasich 2016.
Jim Leanna from Watertown says Kasich may be polling a distant second to Donald Trump in New York, but he confident Kasich will clinch the Republican nomination.
“Definitely over the candidates who are running, he's the best man,” said Leanna.
Trey Anderson says he's already decided to vote for Kasich in the state's primary on Tuesday.
“He's a sold middle kind of guy. He's the type of guy that can get people to come together," said Anderson.
Inside, Kasich answered questions about his plan for healthcare and financial reform. In much of his speech, he repeatedly drew attention to his work balancing the nation's budget in the 90s. He was while chairman of the House Budget Committee. He pointed at a big digital counter on the wall. The nation's debt ticked up by the second. Kasich said that debt is hurting job growth.
“And that's why we have to focus on this because the most important thing is job creation."
Later, a female St. Lawrence University student stood up to ask Kasich how he plans to curb sexual assaults on campus. Kasich said he believes colleges should expand confidential reporting and the use of rape kits.
“And let me give you one last piece of advice. Don’t go to parties where there's lots of alcohol."
This statement from Kasich prompted applause from the Watertown crowd, but a backlash on social media. The National Democratic Committee claimed his remark blamed the victims of sexual assault.
Kasich told reporters his words were misconstrued. He later tweeted, "Only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that's the assailant."
Watertown resident Leanne Armstrong said she wasn't offended by anything Kasich said, but she wasn't impressed either. Armstrong has voted Republican her whole life but today she’s decked out in a Bernie Saunders hat, and a T-shirt that reads "Feel the Bern." She says Kasich wasn't able to convince her he has what it take to win the general election.
"Bernie for me all the way," she said.
Kasich will make one more swing through the region before tomorrow's primary. He'll be at the Solvay Youth Center near Syracuse at 11:30 a.m. Monday.