Gov. John Kasich stays positive in S.C.

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to a crowd at the S.C. Chamber of Commerce on Friday in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — A positive campaign, but one that isn’t “a pincushion” for other candidates, is how Ohio Gov. John Kasich described his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I want to be fundamentally in a good place in terms of getting Americans together,” Kasich said after meeting with state business leaders Friday.

“The problem with going negative all the time is how do you ever getting anything done, long term, if you’re operating on the dark side of the street as opposed to the sunny side?” he said.

Kasich’s off-the-cuff remarks and humor played well with the crowd as did his positive message and tone. He held firm on his move to expand Medicaid in Ohio while other Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley, decry the Obamacare measure.

Kasich discussed the need for government innovation, even using an audience member’s cellphone as a prop, as he mentioned unpopular yet effective reforms he pioneered in Ohio.

“If you’re going to have power — use it to drive creativity, innovation and change and if you don’t do that why don’t you get out,” he said. “I’m a big reformer, that’s why I’m not in the establishment lane.”

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Kasich’s good-guy image and his backing of Medicaid expansion played well with Dr. Marc Saint-Jour. The internist at Lexington Medical Center said he was for Kasich long before he got a bounce from his second-place finish in New Hampshire.

“The Republicans say they’re a party of business, but hospitals are also businesses. I think ideologues look at it more ideologically than what’s working,” Saint-Jour said. “He’s more like a problem solver than just an ideologue.”

Reach Gavin Jackson at 843-708-1830.