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Kasich Hopes Third Visit To Vermont Ahead Of Super Tuesday Is The Charm

Nina Keck
Ohio Gov. John Kasich answered a question from Raymond Knutsen of Rutland. The 63-year-old Republican presidential candidate held a town meeting style gathering at Castleton University Monday.

In his third trip to Vermont, Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke to a standing room only crowd at Castleton University Monday, hoping to convince Vermonters that he's the Republicans’ best choice for a moderate, experienced leader.   

Robin Dwyer of East Burke got to Castleton early and had front row seats to hear Kasich. A self-described moderate Republican, she likes Kasich’s track record as a governor in Ohio and a long-serving congressman in Washington, DC. “I feel like I trust him," she adds.

But she admits she’s nervous about Kasich’s chances against the three Republican front-runners: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  “Tomorrow’s tricky,” she says describing Super Tuesday, when Vermont, 11 other states and American Samoa will hold primary votes and caucuses. 

“I’m hoping that he’ll [Kasich] have a good showing tomorrow especially in Vermont,” says Dwyer. “He needs Vermont,” she says, “that’s why he’s here. I’m a little nervous, but I’m voting for him.”

So is Rutland Sen. Peg Flory, who publicly endorsed Kasich and introduced him at Monday's event joking that it's nice the Ohio Governor "gets to see what Vermont's really like down here in Rutland."  

"I want to tell you that I intend to remain the adult in the campaign for president of the United States." — Gov. John Kasich

When Kasich came on stage he introduced his wife, Karen, and two teenage daughters, Reese and Emma. He told the crowd of more than 550 people that he feels like Vermonters appreciate his working class background and no-nonsense problem solving approach to government.

“So it is wonderful to be here,” the 63-year-old told the crowd, “and I want to tell you that I intend to remain the adult in the campaign for president of the United States,” a comment that generated strong applause.

“And I also want to tell you that even though some in the press may think this is over, I will beat Donald Trump in Ohio and it will be a whole new day,” promised Kasich.  “And then we’ll be able to talk about issues and that’s what’s going to matter.”

The issues that mattered to audience members in Castleton came up in a variety of questions about: US relations with Russia, child pornography laws, how to make college more affordable, and where Kasich stands on the issue of global warming.  

Then a young woman asked about legalizing marijuana, an issue Vermont lawmakers are currently grappling with.

“Oh here we go,” groaned Kasich. “Yeah, we’re in Vermont,” he said to a ripple of laughter.

While Kasich is in favor of the use of medical marijuana he balks at legalizing the plant for recreational use. “Look, I smoked marijuana when I was a kid, as a young man okay? I’m not proud of that,” admitted Kasich. But I did it, so it’s not like I’m sitting here freaking out about something. But here’s what I’m worried about...” 

Kasich then walked across the stage to where his two high-school-aged daughters sat with his wife.

“How can I tell kids stay off drugs, but this drugs’ okay? You can’t talk to kids that way. You can’t say, well this one is okay and that one is not.”

Debbie Singiser of Chittenden, says she’s impressed by Kasich. But she says his efforts in Ohio to limit abortion and legislation he recently signed to defund Planned Parenthood trouble her deeply. “It was definitely a deal breaker, definitely."

Terry Moran of Rutland says he’s still deciding whom to vote for, but says he liked what he heard from Kasich.

"Vermonters that I run into that we talk about - want to see civility and cooperation to get things done - I think Vermont’s that kind of state, and I think his demeanor will play well here," says Moran.

Moran and others appreciated that Kasich took time out to visit Rutland County in person, unlike other candidates who have sent surrogates.  

One in five Vermonters is considered elderly. But what does being elderly even mean — and what do Vermonters need to know as they age? I’m looking into how aging in Vermont impacts living essentials such as jobs, health care and housing. And also how aging impacts the stuff of life: marriage, loss, dating and sex.
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