RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich said Monday that some people don't get him or his economic message, which he described as focused on ensuring that no American gets left behind.
Before a crowd of several hundred students and residents at the University of Richmond, the Ohio governor called himself a "troublemaker" who's been at the center of battles to balance government budgets for decades.
Kasich touted his job-growth record in Ohio as well as his efforts to improve mental health services and his decision to expand Medicaid in the state. He also pledged to boost defense spending and gives states more control over Medicaid and welfare programs.
Kasich, who's struggling to stay in the nomination race, said his multifaceted economic approach is "why some people just don't get me."
"Economic growth is not an end to itself," he said. "We were able to take economic growth and the then spread a message that no one should be left behind. No one should have to live in the shadows," he said.
Kasich is one of several presidential hopefuls visiting Virginia, a competitive state expected to help decide the 2016 presidential contest. He's attempting to distinguish himself in the crowded primary field as a pragmatic leader rather than a party ideologue.
"Wouldn't you rather see people work together and be happier and more pleasant and more respectful of one another?" he said.
Bill Montgomery, a Richmond resident who said he's a Kasich fan but remains undecided, said he thinks the governor does well in small town-hall settings but needs to show more passion to break out on the debate stage.
"I loved his style here, but he doesn't emote that as often when he's at the debates," the 66-year-old said.
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