Town Hall attendees urge Kasich to keep it local

Last modified: 8/18/2015 8:30:06 AM
PETERBOROUGH — Martin Connolly of Temple didn’t want to hear Gov. John Kasich talk about U.S.-Saudi Arabia relations, his accomplishments in Ohio or his clash with Donald Trump. Connolly wanted to hear what the Republican candidate had to say about the natural gas pipeline proposed through southwest New Hampshire.

“We’re talking about somebody putting a pipeline in my backyard,” Connolly told Kasich Tuesday. “If you want the votes of the plain people of New Hampshire, I would suggest that at every town meeting, give five minutes to hear what’s important to them.”

Like Kasich predicted at the start of the town hall at the Monadnock Country Club, Connolly and several other audience members “sniffed” him out, questioned his responses, and even demanded he not waffle while answering questions about the pipeline, Social Security and substance abuse.

Kasich arrived in Peterborough with his popularity surging following the Republican presidential debate last week. A Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll released Tuesday morning found 12 percent of New Hampshire voters would vote for Kasich in the primary — third among the 16 Republican candidates. Only Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were ahead of Kasich. Researchers polled 414 random likely Republican primary voters. The sampling margin of error is +/- 4.8 percent.

Immediately following the debate, Kasich’s staff also announced former N.H. Attorney General Tom Rath will serve as a senior national adviser and as co-chair of Kasich’s campaign here. It was reported Roth’s endorsement of Kasich was a blow to Jeb Bush’s camp, whose brother, George W., was advised by Rath in the 2000 campaign.

‘Top up’

In answer to Connolly’s question, Kasich criticized eminent domain, saying it should be a local control issue. The federal government has the power to take property by eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act. Kasich said he is not here to settle the pipeline debate, but said that eminent domain should be a last resort, not a first resort.

“Countries should be run from the top up, not the bottom down,” he said.

Kasich referred the crowd to N.H. House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) who, standing in the back of the audience, has endorsed Kasich. Following the town hall, Flanagan said he is in the process of drafting legislation to address local concerns about the pipeline.

Connolly was satisfied with Kasich’s answer. “He seems like the type of guy I would get a cup of coffee with,” Connolly told the Ledger-Transcript afterward.

Kath Allen of Peterborough asked Kasich how it’s fair that Americans earning over $118,500 are only taxed up to that amount for Social Security. Kasich said he wasn’t for raising taxes and spoke about his 1998 plan as a U.S. representative to fix Social Security.

10 percent recidivism?

After Kasich fielded a question about climate change, a man sitting next to Allen interrupted Kasich, saying he never answered Allen’s question.

“I’m not saying we should roll back the cap. But I’m not for increasing it,” Kasich replied. “That’s about as straight answer as I’m going to give you.

Gary Carpenter was skeptical of Kasich’s success lowering the recidivism rate in Ohio to 10 percent.

Kasich said 80 percent of prison inmates in Ohio experienced substance abuse issues.

To combat this trend, Kasich said his state implemented a rehabilitation program in prisons and continue to treat them once they’ve been released. Through this program, Kasich said Ohio’s recidivism rate is 10 percent.

Besides answering these questions, Kasich also spoke about balancing the budget and strengthening the military.

“ISIS? I’m in favor of putting boots on the ground. Ukranians, they want to fight for their own freedom. We need to help them. The Chinese, they don’t own the South China Sea,” said Kasich, also slamming the Bush and Obama administrations for “coddling” Saudi Arabia. “Do your job, take your business and come home.” Following the town hall, twin brothers Eric and Mike Jackman of Jaffrey said Kasich is a likable guy, but felt he “tap danced” around Eric’s question about declassifying a 28-page document many believe implicates Saudi Arabia as a financier of the 9/11 attacks.

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or Follow him on Twitter @Benji_Rosen.


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