Republican presidential candidate and Ohio governor John Kasich made a stop at Grand Valley State University Feb. 15, where he touched on student debt, the economy and getting a job after graduation.
“Our leaders in higher education have got to work to control their administrative costs, which are going through the roof,” Kasich said, saying students should be able to restructure their debt as interest rates fluctuate.
Over 500 people welcomed the hopeful candidate in the Grand River Room on President’s Day.
Kasich directed most of his speech at the majority of the audience – students.
“Live big,” Kasich said. “You only have one time to be young.”
“We’re made to be productive,” Kasich said. “We have to create an environment where we create jobs.”
“It’s never too late to get to the community college. It’s never too late to upgrade those skills because you have to (do) a lifelong education in America.”
Steering away from political party labels, Kasich touched on social security reform and border control.
“We will only get these things done if we are Americans, and not Republicans or Democrats,” Kasich said. “The Republican party is my vehicle and not my master.”
Kasich took questions from the audience for the remainder of the event.
“We have to fix our schools, we have to crush the evil of drugs,” Kasich said.
A Lowell Middle School Principal asked Kasich his view on common core in schools.
“I think K-12 education still operates under a model that we created 150 years ago,” Kasich said. “Education is figuring out how to give kids the basics but at the same time having a flexible enough system that I can move out of the classroom into a real world experience for at least a few hours each week to understand what my passions are.”
Kasich said students don’t learn these things in “isolation.”
Mental health was another issue brought up at Kasich’s speech.
“Too many of them either live in a jail or a prison,” Kasich said. “And if they’re not in a prison, they’re living under a bridge somewhere.”
Moving on to healthcare, Kasich continued.
“It is essential, in my opinion, for conservatives to believe that everybody should have an opportunity,” Kasich said.
On national security, Kasich said ISIS is not a force to negotiate with and has to be destroyed and that North Korea is a nuclear threat to the U.S.
“The world needs the United States of America,” Kasich said. “We have to be the leader of the world.”
Kasich’s final question involved marijuana and medical usage. Although he is not pro-legalization, he said people shouldn’t be serving time for it.
“I don’t think we should put people in jail for smoking marijuana,” Kasich said, to an applause from the crowd. “I don’t want to ruin somebody’s life because they smoke dope.”
Dean Pacific, 47, used to live in Kasich’s district in Ohio.
“I’ve been an admirer of Governor Kasich for a long time,” Pacific said. “He’s somebody that understands that if you get 75 percent of what you want, that’s not a 25 percent loss. That’s a success and you can build on that and you can get a lot of what you want done if you’re willing to work with other people from different parties and ideologies.”
Pacific brought his two sons Max, 13, and Dominic, 17, to the event.
“A candidate who’s all bluster and insults and things like that has got a lot of the attention,” Pacific said. “I wanted (my kids) to see a candidate who I think would be somebody who can actually govern and lead.”