Following a strong finish in New Hampshire, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is betting big on the Midwest to help him fulfill his presidential ambitions. Michigan is the first Midwestern primary state, so, it seemed worth it for Kasich to take a break from his official duties in Ohio and the critical South Carolina primary to make a swing through Michigan to stump for Republican votes and try to quell some Big 10 rivalries.
“Can we put the fact that I’m from Ohio aside ‘til after the primary?” he asked to the laughter of an audience at Grand Valley State University on Monday.
Kasich, who also served in Congress, offered few specific policy prescriptions. He does oppose the full legalization of marijuana and favors a more muscular foreign policy. But Kasich’s focus was more on
the type of president he’d be rather than what he’d do if and when he’s sitting in the Oval Office. He told Republican primary voters that what the country needs is more bipartisanship. And if people had a problem with that, well, too bad.
“The Republican Party is my vehicle and not my master,” he said.
Kasich did offer this endorsement – sort of – to the other presidential candidate stumping in Michigan at the same time, and that’s Bernie Sanders (D) of Vermont. “I’m for Bernie being president, but of Ben and Jerry’s, not the United States,” he said.
Sanders, at an appearance on the campus of Eastern Michigan University, made his case for beating out Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, but also seemed to be running against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. In front of a boisterous crowd of more than 9,000, Sanders reiterated his scorn for Snyder’s handling of the Flint Water Crisis.
“You know, I’ve called for Snyder’s resignation,” he said. “But if the local government cannot protect those children, if the state government cannot protect those children, then the federal government better get in and do the right thing.”
It was also Sanders’ first opportunity to weigh in on the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court since the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. “Here you have the Constitution as clear as clear can be. The president of the United States nominates people to the Supreme Court. Republicans, start hearings on his nomination. Do not obstruct. Obey the Constitution.”
Austin Nickleson is an 18-year-old first-time voter who drove way from Ludington on the west side of the state to hear Sanders speak. He says the Vermont Senator embodies what he’s looking for in a presidential candidate.
“I’m really looking for someone who’s genuine in their views. Bernie seems to be. I want someone that’s truly caring about real American problems, that’s finally standing up for real American families.”
Sanders hopes people like Nickleson will drive a big young voter turnout for Michigan’s presidential primary on March 8.