Kasich appeals to African-Americans to not align with one political party

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Republican hopeful for president, campaigned in North Charleston and at The Citadel Friday.

Stumping in North Charleston, GOP presidential candidate John Kasich appealed Friday to African-Americans not to align themselves with one party.

“Don’t hold yourselves in a position where you are a one-party group,” the Ohio governor said of minorities. Blacks and other minorities have been a reliable voting bloc for Democrats for decades.

“When they commit to one political party, they don’t have any leverage,” Kasich said during a 30-minute, question-and-answer session sponsored by the Greater Charleston Business Alliance and the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce.

That brought an instant rebuttal from one African-American woman in the crowd of less than 100 at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

“It’s difficult for us to break with one party when the other party says such offensive things,” she said. “How can the Republican Party say it wants us when you have a group that says such ugly things?”

Kasich responded, “I don’t think a lot of Republicans feel they have an opportunity to get the minority vote.”

He said only through encouragement and support of minorities through actions can change be brought about in Republicans’ gaining minority votes.

Kasich also said he supported minority businesses having equal access to government contracts.

“When we build a bridge in South Carolina with federal money, it needs to reflect the minority community,” he said.

The former congressman added, “We don’t want people in set-aside programs forever. ... We all want to see less poverty and more opportunity. Everybody ought to have a chance to rise.”

Kasich supports school choice and spoke of the need for education reform so no school is failing.

“If you have no skills, you have no money,” he said.

He talked about giving felons a chance to get back to work after serving their time by eliminating the felon check box on job applications in Ohio. He said federal banking law changes after the 2008 economic collapse are hurting small- and medium-size banks, which are often more open to lending to small businesses.

“You have to have access to capital to build entrepreneurship,” he said.

Kasich supports immigration but said, “You have to make sure you can protect your borders. We have to control who comes in.”

Anne Vaughan of West Ashley liked what he had to say, especially when he said “be kinder than you have to be,” but she hasn’t nailed down her choice for president.

“It’s too early to make up my mind,” she said. “I want to hear what some of the others have to say.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at (843) 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.