CEDAR RAPIDS — John Kasich says he wishes he had spent more time in Iowa, “but there’s only one of me to go around.”
So with limited time until the Feb. 1 caucuses, Kasich, the Ohio governor and 2016 GOP presidential hopeful who is polling in the low single digits in the state, cut to the chase with his Cedar Rapids audience.
“If any of you can go there and help me, that would be great and I’d very much appreciate it,” Kasich said.
And then, laughing, he added: “If you can’t go there and help me, then you know, I don’t want to talk to you.”
He received an enthusiastic introduction from Sen. Chuck Grassley, who said that because of his experience working with the former Ohio congressman, “I think I have something to say about him that other people introducing him might not have.”
Grassley reminded the roughly 140 people who were in attendance at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Kasich was House Budget chairman the last time Congress balanced the budget and paid down $568 billion on the national debt.
“If you’re cynical about government I have some things here that Kasich has delivered,” Grassley said, and started listing his accomplishments only to be interrupted by Kasich.
“Did I say something wrong? Am I taking too much time?” Grassley asked.
“He doesn’t have to sing my praises,” Kasich said.
“But I want to,” Grassley said. “I’ll hurry.”
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When it was his turn, Kasich talked about being the coming from immigrant stock and being the grandson of a coal miner.
“That’s what’s in my DNA, those folks, to speak for them … that people who don’t have power, money and influence get represented,” he said.
Kasich talked about his experience as a congressman and the moral reason for balancing the budget.
“We don’t have the right to spend without regard to our children’s future,” he said.
He also talked about his experience turning around the Ohio economy by cutting taxes and balancing the state budget.
Doing so sends the right signals to job creators, he said, and now Ohio has gone from a loss of 350,000 jobs to an increase of 400,000.
“And people who live in the shadows — the mentally ill, the drug addicted — we’re tending to them,” he said.
He wants to go back to Washington as president with “the formula — common-sense regulations, reducing taxes, balancing budgets because I want to revive the country.”