Kasich stumps at Franklin Pierce University
RINDGE — John Kasich touted his recent Boston Globe and Concord Monitor endorsements during a town hall event at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday afternoon.
Franklin Pierce President Andrew Card and former U.S. Sen. John Sununu introduced the Ohio governor for the afternoon town hall attended by more than 100 people.
Kasich opened the event with a message for students, urging them to see their unique gifts and purposes in life.
“You were made special,” Kasich said. “There’s nobody else like you that exists in the world. You were made special because you are here to make the world a better place.”
Kasich told voters they have two choices before them in this election wit regard to message. Kasich said this is nothing new, noting that in the country’s past there have been different negative movements — “the anti-Irish movement, the anti-Catholic movement, the anti-Jewish movement, the Red scare.”
“Negative, negative, negative — right? No hope. Everything looks dark,” Kasich said. “In my lifetime I see a different thing. First of all, when the negative movement pops up I think you’ve got to push back against it because America’s not about darkness, America’s about light.”
The United States is faced with very real challenges, he said, such as unemployment, high student debt, low wages, an unprotected border and seniors living on low Social Security incomes.
“They’re serious problems, but they are all solvable,” Kasich said, adding that people and egos get in the way of solving these problems.
Kasich told voters he isn’t a negative campaigner and warned them about being “Eeyore,” Winnie the Pooh’s downer friend.
“You can live on two sides of the street,” he said. “You can live on the dark side where, ‘Oh woe is us,’ the old Eeyore effect, or you can actually live on the sunny side of the street and not only believe, but know that working together as Americans we can beat all these challenges.”
His positive thinking didn’t resonate with an unemployed teacher from Fitzwilliam.
Stephanie Scherr interrupted Kasich when he disagreed with a woman who asked him if he agreed with a Robert Reich documentary about income inequality.
Kasich said the way to fight income inequality was to fundamentally change public education and ensure that young people have the skills they need to get good jobs.
“Excuse me, are you equating income inequality with lack of skills?” Scherr asked.
“Absolutely,” Kasich said, adding that those who don’t graduate from high school often live in poverty their whole lives.
Scherr said what he was saying “doesn’t add up,” adding that many people with master’s degrees are struggling to survive.
“It depends what you got the education in,” he said. “It’s all about what we place our value on as a society. It’s all about skills. … If you don’t have the skills for the jobs that are in demand, you aren’t going to make the money.”
A Franklin Pierce graduate who has a master’s in environmental science from Antioch New England, Scherr said after the town hall that she was a high school teacher when she got laid off and has been struggling ever since.
“He’s not in touch with what’s going on in this country,” Scherr said of Kasich. “I couldn’t sit still. I had to say something to that.”
A registered independent, Scherr said she plans to vote in the Democratic primary on Feb. 9, and is leaning toward Bernie Sanders.
She attended a Sanders town hall in Peterborough last week.
“I was in tears last week listening to him because I got out of school with six figures in loans. And I’m struggling to pay my mortgage and my student debt. It’s painful to have that much student debt and know you worked really hard to get your education and it’s not working.”
Kasich’s take on student debt also didn’t sit well with 20-year-old Franklin Pierce junior Kimberly Theodore.
When she asked him during the town hall what he would do about student debt, Kasich referenced Sanders’ plan for free tuition at public colleges and universities, saying it wouldn’t work.
“You’ve got an almost $19 trillion dollar debt. Where do you think this money comes from?” Kasich said.
High school students should be asking themselves how much they want to pay for college, he said. They should also go to community colleges for the first two years to save money or not go to college and instead acquire technical skills in high school or trade schools.