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After Ohio victory John Kasich bids farewell to Marco Rubio, vows to fight until convention

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Following his first primary victory in his home state of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich continued to spread his can-do message of optimism and civility at a speech to supporters Tuesday night.

After a brief hiccup to handle a Donald Trump-supporting disrupter, Kasich began by calling for a round of applause for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. He called Rubio a “gifted, talented senator” and congratulated him on his campaign.

He gave a parable where he compared his own underdog campaign to the Buckeye State. After meeting with rating agencies in New York City when, as he put it, “things were bad.” The agencies had threatened to slash their rating due to high unemployment and debt levels that left bankers looking askew at Ohio’s state government.

“You don’t understand Ohio, and you don’t understand Ohioans,” Kasich recalled telling them. He then recited a well-worn list of economic improvements that took place during his governorship.

Kasich cited attaining 400,000 new jobs, an economic surplus, relatively secure pension programs plus multiple rounds of tax cuts, all while “leaving no one behind.” He said he wishes he could make the New York bankers “eat their words” when it came to doubting Ohio.

The governor former congressman nodded to his many naysayers, including “people in Ohio saying ‘Why don’t they ever call on him?” in the long string of debates leading up to the contest.

Kasich also vowed to continue to draw a contrast between himself and the bawdy antics of Trump.

“I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich said to applause.

The speech was conspicuously devoid of the rock-ribbed red meat served up by other GOP nomination-seekers, saying his primary goal was not to repeal Obamacare or defund Planned Parenthood, but rather to help Americans “find their purpose in life” and to “heal and change the world. “

Kasich also gave a shout-out to many Democrats for supporting him in the state’s open primaries and not casting a vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Preliminary polls indicated some 15 percent of Ohio Democrats crossed the aisle on Tuesday.

Kasich ended with a pledge to take his campaign “all the way to” nearby Cleveland, home of the 2016 Republican National Convention. He vowed to secure the nomination there, despite his mathematically unlikely path forward.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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