As New York’s April 19 primary vote approaches, Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich started his upstate politicking in Syracuse Friday night at a town hall at Le Moyne College.
Kasich is the underdog in the three-man race for the GOP nomination. He’s running third, with 143 delegates, when more than 1,237 are needed to win the nomination. And that logistical hurdle was on the mind of many of the more than 1,000 people who came out to see the Ohio governor at the Le Moyne College Athletic Center.
"I would really like to see you be president, but realistically, what are your plans to get the nomination?” asked one attendee.
Kasich’s answer -- an open and brokered convention -- suggesting delegates will ultimately choose what he believes is the best for the Republican Party.
"They’re going to think about not only who can win in the fall, but who can keep us from being obliterated in the fall, so that we don’t lose all these races all across the country,” said Kasich.
Syracuse supporters like former Rep. Jim Walsh, thinks it’s a winning strategy.
"You know, Abraham Lincoln won the Republican nomination in a brokered convention on the third ballot. He was not the most popular going in. In fact, it was a New Yorker, William Seward, who was the most popular, and it was Lincoln who beat him on the third ballot. And John Kasich is going to do the same thing,” said Walsh, who represented the Syracuse area.
But there was still skepticism about that strategy among the crowd. Harold Schwartz is a former Democrat who’s switched to the GOP.
"So far it may be a losing cause, but I’m inclined to favor Gov. Kasich. But he doesn’t have a clear path to the party’s nominee, so it remains to be seen,” said Schwartz.
But despite the fact Kasich is behind in the race, Syracuse GOP operative Russ Andrews, suggests the Ohio governor is a better fit with the area’s historically moderate Republicans than front runner Donald Trump.
“I think that people are looking for an alternative to Trump. Folks that are moderate and reasonable and looking for policy solutions, and reasonable and looking at the general election, and a candidate that can win on the general landscape, I think a lot of people are recognizing that you have to dig deeper than what Donald Trump is offering.”
Recent polls of likely New York GOP voters show Kasich far behind Trump, but ahead of the other candidate in the race, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Kasich also campaigned in the Rochester area over the weekend.