As we arrived in New Hampshire early Monday morning, I was full of anticipation. After supporting him from the beginning of the race, I was going to be able to meet my favorite presidential candidate, Governor of Ohio John Kasich. Since I started seriously evaluating all of the candidates this summer, I have always been impressed by the Governor’s record. He balanced the budget during the Clinton years and has led Ohio through the recovery to have a strong economy once again. I followed him on all of his social media, cheered for him during debates, and became his campus representative for Wake Forest. Now, I finally reached the moment where I would meet him.
The town hall was held in an intimate chapel in Windham, New Hampshire. We arrived early to a fairly empty building, but the placed ended up packed. There were voters, donors, and media all in the house to see what the Governor had to say in his 105th Town Hall. Kasich did not disappoint as he thoughtfully articulated his message of unity and economic growth for all. The more interesting part of participating in the town hall was seeing how the candidate worked the room. Unlike other wheeling and dealing politicians, Kasich answered every question in his own earnest and humble way. Sometimes his exchanges could feel a little awkward and passive-aggressive, but overall he was able to give good answers to every question. The entire town hall experience reaffirmed why I supported: experience, intelligence, and the ability to unite our country.
Later in the day, we traveled to a town hall that was different in almost every way. In the evening, we arrived at a high school gym, the location of Governor Chris Christie’s final town hall. Upon entering, I immediately noticed the difference in scenery. The gym was larger, the entire place was packed, and there was much more energy in the room. After an appearance by the Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Christie took the stage. Similar to Kasich, he answered all the questions. Yet, Christie’s style was even more forthcoming and honest. During the entire town hall, he drew in the audience in with stories and made you feel right at home. As a New Jersey resident, I had a mixed opinion of my Governor. But after that town hall, I could call myself a Christie fan. I was convinced that he would outperform expectations in New Hampshire the next day.
As we watched the returns come in on Tuesday night, I was shocked. Chris Christie was stuck in the single digits, outpaced by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich. For some reason, the people of New Hampshire weren’t attracted to Christie’s message. For all the New Hampshire voters who cast their ballot against Trump, I believe that one important question guided their decision: Who is the President we need? In answering this question, they looked beyond attractiveness, family connections, and the ability to work a room. Instead, they looked at candidate’s experience and vision for America. These criteria led voters to decide on the earnest Governor of Ohio who wants to balance our budget, grow opportunity for all and unite our country. After 4 years of grandstanding and gridlock, Donald Trump may be the President we deserve, but John Kasich is the President we need.