Mr. Trump cancels Florida event to focus attention northward and gather with supporters in Youngstown.
March 14, 2016 11:49 PM
Gene Puskar/Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump holds a plane-side rally Monday in a hanger at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.
Brian Blanco / Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a town hall meeting Monday at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa , Fla. Mr. Trump cancelled a later event in Miami and will instead fly to Ohio for a rally in Youngstown.
Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich, left, accompanied by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrive for a campaign stop on Monday, at the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton, Ohio.
By Jim Provance / Block News Alliance
WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Facing a do-or-die election in his home state today, Gov. John Kasich rallied about 1,000 supporters Monday, while Donald Trump 170 miles away worked to slam the door on his chief Ohio rival.
Mr. Kasich is banking on his home state coming through for him today in hopes of establishing himself as the Republican alternative not named Trump.
“The country is watching,” he said at a high school in suburban Columbus. “We are the geographic center of gravity in every political election, and it’s happening now, and it will happen again when I come here so we can beat Hillary Clinton this fall.
“The whole world will be watching us, frankly, holding their breath about what we are all about,” Mr. Kasich said. “I’m asking you all to send a message around the country and send a message around the world about somebody who has a proven record, somebody who’s been able to deliver to people who elected him.”
Earlier in the day, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared in a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, showing the importance of the state on another big primary Tuesday. Also voting today are Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.
The stakes are not nearly as high in Ohio for Mr. Trump as they are for Mr. Kasich, especially if Mr. Trump wins winner-take-all Florida, where a new poll has him with a 24-point lead over home-state Sen. Marco Rubio.
But an added victory in Ohio could be seen as halting attempts within the party to block Mr. Trump’s path to locking up the nomination and forcing a contested July convention in Cleveland.
A two-state punch would presumably knock both Mr. Kasich and Mr. Rubio out of the race, making it a two-man contest with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. In all, 367 Republican delegates are at stake today.
In Vienna near Youngstown on Monday night, Mr. Trump again called Mr. Kasich “an absentee governor,” while also attacking his two other opponents.
“Ohio is going to make America great again. Kasich is not going to make America great,” Mr. Trump said, his voice close to a yell.
With him was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It was Mr. Trump’s third straight day in Ohio, finishing up at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, a rally that he said he organized on short notice after canceling an event in Florida.
Mr. Trump told the rally crowd the issue that compelled him to run was President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
“We should never have started negotiating the deal until we got our prisoners back. Before the deal was even done they were dancing in the streets,” Mr. Trump told the cheering audience. “It was one of the worst negotiated transactions of any kind I’ve ever seen.”
Mr. Trump’s rally was not interrupted by protesters, who have frequently appeared in other states.
The crowd chanted “Build That Wall” and answered “Mexico” to Mr. Trump’s question, “Who’s going to pay for it?”
Mr. Kasich, meanwhile, appeared with former GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.
Mr. Romney has not formally endorsed Mr. Kasich, but he has worked on behalf of candidates he believes can help to block Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday had Mr. Kasich and Mr. Trump tied at 38 percent. Mr. Kasich has tightened the race considerably. A poll a week ago gave Mr. Trump a six-point advantage.
The winner will walk away with all 66 of Ohio’s convention delegates.
Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio came in at 16 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Mr. Cruz held one Ohio campaign event over the weekend, while Mr. Rubio focused on defending his home state, a race that a separate Quinnipiac Poll suggests he will lose badly to Mr. Trump — 46 percent to 22 percent.
Without mentioning Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Kasich recounted watching television footage of the events that led Mr. Trump to cancel his rally Friday night in Chicago.
“I watched a presidential campaign rally with people slugging one another. And I looked at those images, and I thought to myself, this is not how we fix America.”
On the Democratic side, Mr. Sanders, the senator from Vermont, held rallies in Youngstown and in Akron, while Ms. Clinton turned her attention to North Carolina and Illinois after visiting Ohio over the weekend.
Mr. Sanders is hoping for a repeat of his upset victory in Michigan one week ago. Ohio, like Michigan, is not a winner-take-all state for Democrats, so even a narrow loss in Ohio would add delegates to Ms. Clinton’s total.
Addressing a crowd in the Covelli Centre, Youngstown’s hockey arena, Mr. Sanders attacked “the billionaire class” to cheers from his audience of about 1,500.
“The average American is working longer hours for lower wages while almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. That’s a rigged economy,” Mr. Sanders said.
A Quinnipiac poll showed Ms. Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, leading Mr. Sanders 51 percent to 46 percent, which is closer than the previous week when she led 52 percent to 43 percent.
Mr. Sanders sketched a progressive agenda of health care for all, protecting abortion and same-sex marriage rights, a massive infrastructure-rebuilding plan, ending excessive incarceration, reining in fossil fuels, and curtailing trade agreements that allow corporations to make products in cheap-labor countries for sale in the U.S.
Youngstown has been the poster child of the Rust Belt ever since “Black Monday” in 1977 when Youngstown Tube & Steel closed, eliminating 5,000 jobs.
At the rally, Karen Gran Caldwell, 60, of Youngstown, a computer programmer for Mahoning County, said the city needs an economic revival.
“I see the welfare lines. Mahoning County is the worst county in Ohio right now,” Ms. Caldwell said.
The Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Jim Provance and Tom Troy are reporters for The Blade.
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