By Raoul Biron
Ohio Governor and presidential candidate John Kasich spoke to a mixed audience of roughly 100 in the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics on Thursday. Pointing toward a board displaying a constantly growing number in the trillions, Kasich spoke about how increased federal spending and a loss of fiscal responsibility are impacting American social issues.
“When you are a leader you have to realize that there are some things we can’t afford and we have to have someone who says that that’s not appropriate,” Kasich said.
As students walked between breakout rooms and the national debt board in the Paul College’s atrium, Kasich addressed how his fiscal conservatism and self-proclaimed success in reworking Ohio’s budget would translate nationally. As so-called “outsider” candidates without government experience – like real estate mogul Donald Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson – continue to lead Republican polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, Kasich advertised his role within the party’s establishment.
“Let’s innovate government… You’re not in this life just to get re-elected and be important. You’re in this life to live a life bigger than yourself. You’re not in politics to be a Republican or a Democrat… You’re an American before you’re a member of a political party, and your job is to leave the place a little bit better for the fact that you were there,” Kasich said.
Before opening the floor to questions, the union-busting governor spoke about issues ranging from his Christian faith to increases in drug addiction and isolation. For Kasich, a lack of economic stability and opportunity play a deep role in the troubles felt by American families.
“Leadership is the willingness to walk a lonely road and an ability to live a life that’s about more than just yourself… one of the things that we have to face in this country is that we have an issue of the spirit now… We feel alone now,” Kasich said.
While the choice of venue and the massive sign behind Kasich stating “A Balanced Budget For Us” may have implied a larger focus on economic issues, the questions posed primarily from UNH students didn’t. Members of the UNH student body asked questions challenging the governor’s stance on defunding Planned Parenthood in Ohio, the impact of fossil fuels on the Seacoast’s environment and the growing costs of college.
“Universities and community colleges ought to be focused on shedding themselves of non-academic assets. Universities and community colleges should not be running parking lots, parking garages, cafeterias and dormitories,” said Kasich. “Online education is going to take over… High priced colleges and universities are going to be a thing of the past.”
As the town hall meeting concluded, a group of student and local activists performed a “mic-check,” repeating the phrase “We need a candidate who agrees with scientists and isn’t bought by fossil fuel money” in unison.
“I felt like he deviated from the issue and his answers weren’t satisfactory or accurate.Climate change is an issue that affects people directly and that our school has investments in,” said Eric Petersson, a junior civil engineering major who took part in the action. “He even talked about how his grandfather died from being a coal miner, he was a direct victim… I don’t know how he can justify taking money from such a destructive industry.”