BURLINGAME, California — GOP presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich says the Republican Party should be the party of hope.
While speaking at the California GOP Convention dinner on Friday night, Kasich told the audience. “It’s the people that makes the difference.”
“I used to say, and maybe in some way some of you would relate, that throughout my lifetime I’ve been struck by lighting in everything I’ve ever really tried,” Kasich began. “But I kind of think about it a little different than being struck by lighting.”
“For whatever reason the good Lord has given me grace to be able to be in positions and achieve things that as a young kid, I probably could never even had dreamed of, but you see what you get through grace from the Lord you cannot hesitate to do what you can do to improve the lives for people in whatever position you’re in,” Kasich explained.
“My mother used to say, ‘Johnny, you know the thing I want you always to remember is make the place a little bit better for the fact that you were there.’” Kasich continued, “I’m at a Republican gathering here tonight. I’ve been a Republican all of my life, but you should understand something, the Republican Party is my vehicle. It’s never been my master. My master is first of all my wife.”
The crowd chucked in response. “Secondly, though you see what’s in my minds eye are those people that I grew up with in McKees Rocks.”
Earlier in the day, Kasich was a featured guest at a Commonwealth Club of California event, where he sparred with a gay man, who later admitted to being a Democrat and supporting Hillary Clinton.
“Do you believe that some people are born gay?” asked Kelly Bryan. “I’m a 62-year-old gay man who came out to both of my parents at 19.” Bryan added, “And I’ve been gay for 45, over 40 years. Gay people are human beings and not a lifestyle choice. Please respond without prayer being an answer.”
NBC reports that Kasich and the man went back and forth on the issue.
Kasich first launched into describing what religion means to him and that he believes “we’d all be better off in this country if we prayed more.” Then, without answering the man’s initial question, he turned to the issue of religious liberty laws, as he generally does when he’s asked about LGBT issues. “In terms of me, I don’t believe in discrimination, I think there is a balance, however, between discrimination and people’s religious liberties,” Kasich said.
“But I think we should just try to, like, take a chill pill, relax, and try to get along with one another a little bit better instead of trying to write some law to solve a problem that doesn’t frankly exist in big enough numbers to justify more lawmaking.”
“Republicans don’t believe in marriage equality, it’s your platform,” Bryan responded. “Well, is it?” Kasich asked. “Yes,” Brian answered. “I haven’t read that thing lately,” Kasich said, then Brian told him, “you really should know what you’re doing.”
“Well, no, they don’t tell me what to do by the platform,” Kasich rebuffed. “The Republican Party is my vehicle and not my master, okay? I have a right to define the Republican Party, too, okay?” He went on to mention that he believes in “traditional marriage” but also attended the gay wedding of a friend.
When Bryan challenged him again on if people are born gay, Kasich first tried to dodge an answer. “I’m not gonna get into all the analysis of this or that, I’m not gonna do that,” he said. As the moderator tried to move the conversation along to the next question, Kasich bounced back. “You know, sir, probably. I mean, I don’t, I don’t know how it all works, okay? I mean, look. Are they? You know, probability they are. Okay?”
Kasich trails his rivals Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in the latest average of polls, according to Real Clear Politics.