Villanova Welcomes John Kasich



Sean Doherty

At 12:25 p.m. today, presidential hopeful Governor John Kasich entered a packed Villanova Room to the tune of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. Following Student Government Vice President Pat Long onto the stage set up in the middle of the room, Kasich began to lead the room in a unified clap to the beat of the popular song. As the crowd died down he quipped, “I like that song. Can’t they play it a little longer?”

After being introduced by Long, former Pennsylvania State Senator Earl Baker and former Pennsylvania Congressman Robert Walker, Kasich set politics aside and spoke of his own college experience at The Ohio State University. He talked about refusing to take “no” for an answer and how, through his determination, he was able to have a personal meeting with the President of OSU, which segued into a meeting with President Nixon in the Oval Office. He said to the audience of mostly students, “they can’t tell you no if you don’t ask and they can’t tell you yes if you don’t ask.” He also empathized with students and the problems they face by saying “there’s strength in being able to say, ‘I got a problem.’”

This visit came fresh off of his first victory on the campaign trail in his home state of Ohio and those who were lucky enough to score a seat witnessed a renewed energy in the candidate. However, not everyone got a seat in either the Villanova Room or the Connelly Cinema, where a live stream of the event was shown.

“We had about 150 people in line at 10:30 this morning.” J.J. Brown, Director of Student Involvement, who served as a liason between the University and Kasich’s campaign, said. “That was astonishing.”

The Governor spoke about the need to balance the budget, but highlighted why it has not happened by saying, “everybody thinks it’s like a trip to the dentist to get a root canal.” His solution was to curtail the rampant spending of politicians who, he feels, are more worried about getting re-elected than our Nation’s balance sheet. 

He spoke about the importance of having a smaller government and leaving local decisions in the hands of local leaders, by saying, “take the big dinosaur and evolve it to the small one so we can get along better, get around better, and solve some problems,” which reflects his views as “Libertarian-Leaning Conversative,” as he is defined by 

He feels that once these issues are handled, success with other issues like student loans and job growth will follow. He also spoke about gay marriage, but sent mixed signals regarding the right to deny service to a group of a conflicting view. 

He talked about ISIS, and the need to “destroy evil” even at the cost of American troops. He reiterated the fact that he is optimistic about the future of America, and said, “I am not going to take the low road to the high ground.”

The University, while unable to endorse any candidate, was able to receive Kasich at the request of Student Government members.

“I was watching the Republican debate and I said, ‘It’d be really cool if we could bring a candidate to campus,’” Patrick Long, who played a major role in Kasich’s visit, said of the process. “I emailed the VP of the University and everything fell into place, it was just meant to be.”

The Villanovan recently conducted an online poll, distributed through social media, where 298 of the total 829 responders (36%) identified as Republican. Among these, in response to the question “Who would you like to vote for in the primary?” 37% responded with Marco Rubio, 29% for Donald Trump, 20% for Kasich and 14% for Ted Cruz. However, not every responder who said they would like to vote for Kasich, self-identified as a Republican. In fact, 35% identified themselves as “Independent,” which shows his potential for success in a general election.

Kasich’s win in Ohio has important ramifications in the race to obtain the GOP nomination. First, it is a victory that gives legitimacy and possibly more mainstream attention to his campaign. Second, due to a major loss from GOP nominee hopeful, Senator Marco Rubio, in his home state of Florida, this has become a three-man contest between frontrunner Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Kasich. Trump leads the 3 with 621 delegates, Cruz with 396, Rubio with 168, and Kasich with 138, leaving 1,134 still unassigned.  1,237 delegates are needed to win the nomination outright, rendering Kasich ineligible to obtain this number. 

The Kasich campaign now serves as a way to block Trump from obtaining a majority and thus sending the nomination to a brokered convention, which has not been used by either party since 1952. A brokered convention is when no single candidate has obtained a majority, and the delegates are then released and allowed to re-cast their votes to a different candidate in another round of voting until a clear majority is decided. John Weaver, Kasich’s chief campaign strategist, said, “the plan is to win Ohio, and some other states, and if that happens, nobody is going to have enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.”

 The future of Governor Kasich relies on how the more moderate states vote, especially Pennsylvania where he is expected to be a strong opponent to Trump in the Keystone State. Congressman Walker said, “I expect the Governor to win Pennsylvania,” and said how Kasich’s campaign is “the little engine that could.”

“Here’s the Situation,” Kasich ended with, “We have an election coming up. If you didn’t like me today, just don’t tell anybody.”

After a response of laughter rippled throught the room, he continued, “But if you like me, there will be a way for you to help me. Particularly with the vote, but more than that. The reason why we won Ohio, and we won Ohio by 11 points, is because of the grassroots. This is about how we want our country to feel. This is why I like town halls because you get to know the judge. I’m not going to be any more overtly political than to say help if you can. I love being here, this was a great honor for me, being here.”


Maria McGeary, Claire Hoffman and Caroline Foley contributed to this article.