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John Kasich Draws Thousands To Greece

Martin Kaufman

Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich may be behind in the polls compared to the top candidates, but he was still able to attract a very large crowd to the Town of Greece on Saturday.

The crowd at the town's community and senior center was estimated at more than 3,000, including an overflow room, and people who they had to turn away because of space limitations.

The town hall-style meeting included a few questions, but it mainly involved the Ohio Governor talking about his populist philosophy, including comments about how he disdains business as usual in Washington.

“For all of us, who’ve….been trying to play by the rules and get somewhere, we just want to believe the system’s fair, I think, we just want a fair play, that’s all we want.”

Kasich's event was interrupted at one point by a few demonstrators protesting cuts they say he's made in his home state affecting people with disabilities.

Michelle Fridley was among the most vocal of the protestors and she later told WXXI News that she wants Kasich to say more about what he would do on that issue if elected president.

“He currently has 2,500 people on waiting lists; people that are stuck in nursing homes wanting to get out.  22,000 people that are waiting to receive home and community based services.”

Kasich says he respects the passion of the protestors and shares their concerns.

“You know, these are folks who have lived in the shadows for a very long time and the fact that they feel strongly and they have passion,  I respect it. They weren’t here just to act up, they have deep concerns and I share them,” Kasich told reporters.

Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News
Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan talks with a protester at the Kasich event.

He didn't specifically address the issue of funding for people with disabilities. In the past, Ohio state officials have said the state is trying to work with providers of these services. 

When someone in the crowd asked about whether foreign aid could be reduced to countries that won't join the U.S. in fighting terrorism, Kasich said there are nuances in how you have to deal with foreign governments.

“I’ve seen the whole spectrum, and you have to be strong, you have to be consistent, you have to be tough, but you have to know what the hell you’re doing, this is not a time for on the job training.”

Kasich is behind frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but says he's sticking with his campaign since he feels this summer could see a contested GOP convention.

(videography by Martin Kaufman)

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.