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John Kasich, a Republican candidate for governor, wooed young voters and supporters in a pair of events last night in Toledo.
The former congressman from Westerville, Ohio, spoke to college Republicans at the University of Toledo and then raised money at a private event at the Inverness Country Club.
Mr. Kasich, 57, is challenging Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in the Nov. 2 election.
He quizzed students about their plans for college and careers, and told how he, as a first-quarter freshman at Ohio State University, sent a letter to President Nixon in 1970 and was invited to the White House. "I spent almost 20 minutes in the Oval Office with him and it was really cool. I spent more time at the age of 18 in the Oval Office then I did in 18 years in Congress," he said. "The message is, we want to follow our dreams and our dreams can come true."
He recalled his years in the Congress, 1983 to 2001, which included balancing the federal budget when he chaired the House Budget Committee.
He said he is running because the state is losing college graduates and workers to other states.
"Ohio's always been known as a great place to make things and unfortunately, we're not making enough things. If you lose those workers and they go somewhere else, you'll never get them back. That's why we don't have a lot of time to get this fixed," he said.
About 50 people attended the college Republicans event in the Student Union Building, including a few people not associated with the college.
Brian Wiskochil, who said he is in sales in the Toledo area, said the federal government is imposing too many demands on the states and asked Mr. Kasich if he would endorse "nullification," under which a state would refuse to enforce a federal mandate, such as proposed mandatory health insurance protection.
Mr. Kasich said he didn't know what Mr. Wiskochil meant by "nullification," but said he would defend the state's rights under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. "There's federal responsibilities and there's state responsibilities and the 10th Amendment is pretty clear that the states have to have the freedom to do the things they want to do," Mr. Kasich said.
He predicted that Democratic and Republican governors would make "common cause" to resist costly burdens ordered by Congress.
Mr. Kasich said in an interview after the event that criticism by Democrats of his former job as a managing director of the failed investment banking firm Lehman Brothers is misplaced.
He said he ran a two-man office in Columbus, and said blaming him for the financial meltdown of 2008 "is like blaming a car dealer in Toledo for the collapse of General Motors."
"My job on the investment banking side was to travel around the country and to help companies get stronger," Mr. Kasich said. "I wasn't on the board of the company."
Present at the UT event were representatives of both factions now competing for power in the Lucas County Republican Party: Jon Stainbrook, the incumbent chairman, and Paul Hoag, who claims to be the chairman of the central committee.
In the interview, Mr. Kasich recalled he came to Toledo at Mr. Stainbrook's invitation last July.
"I came up here for a Lincoln Day [Dinner] that Jon had, and some people tried to get me not to go. I said, 'I'm going,'•" Mr. Kasich said.
"We need to have a strong party. I've seen a lot of family feuds and this'll fix itself. The party will unify," he said.
Mr. Stainbrook and Toledo lawyer Jeff Simpson are embroiled in a contest over who is the rightful chairman of the party, with Mr. Simpson saying he was elected in a central committee meeting on Dec. 21, the same meeting in which Mr. Hoag maintains he was elected to head the central committee, over Mr. Stainbrook's ally, Meghan Gallagher. Mr. Stainbrook has labeled that claim "fantasy."
A hearing on Mr. Stainbrook's petition for an injunction is set for Jan. 26 in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Victoria Jarufe, 18, a UT freshman who is considering a career in law, said Mr. Kasich's remarks resonated with her in part because her father is a small-business owner. She said she hopes young people are attracted to Mr. Kasich.
"He's energetic, he's a go-getter, he's entrepreneurial," she said.
Media members were barred from Mr. Kasich's fund-raising event at the Inverness Club. Sponsor Brandon Cohen said the event "exceeded expectations," but said he did not know how many people were there or how much was raised.
"I met Jon Kasich last summer and got to know him over eight months and he's a great candidate, and the event tonight was excellent," he said. Ticket prices started at $100, according to a Kasich campaign spokesman.
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