CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — For most Republican presidential hopefuls, the question from the audience would be a big fat softball lobbed across the plate: Name two or three reasons why Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a bad president.
But when that question came to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, he wouldn’t swing.
“If I’ve got to spend my time trashing people to be successful in this, you can count me out,” he told New Hampshire lawmakers and business leaders Wednesday. “I’m not interested in that.”
Clinton-bashing, sometimes explicit, sometimes implied, has become a popular pastime for many others seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
But not for Kasich, who’s considering joining the race.
Former technology executive Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who declared their candidacies this week, both see themselves as Clinton scolds. And at a large gathering of GOP presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire last month, many took the opportunity to criticize the Democratic presidential candidate as well as President Barack Obama. Kasich wasn’t one of them.
“I just got up and told people who I was, ’cause I think it’s important,” he recalled. “I found out over time that a good, positive message is enduring.”
Kasich, a two-term Ohio governor and former member of the U.S. House, is one of the lesser-known Republicans considering a White House bid. He’s traveled to New Hampshire several times, often receiving a warm response in the opening primary state, but is still in the stages of sharing his basic biography. His pitch centers on his experience as the top budget writer in the House in the late 1990s and his work to bring Ohio’s budget from a deficit to a surplus.
It’s not the red meat delivered by many candidates. Kasich’s brief speech Wednesday didn’t touch on foreign policy, and he barely mentioned the president’s health care law, two easy targets for Republicans looking for applause.
One voter asked him to name two or three “of the best reasons you can give us” as to why Clinton would make a bad president.
“If I’m talking about what I don’t like about Hillary, then I’m not telling you what I think,” Kasich said, meaning his position on issues. “And I think you need to know more about who I am and what I think.”
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