DRUMMING UP (LITTLE) SUPPORT
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will make a campaign stop in Medford Thursday evening as he continues his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but locals interviewed in Medford on the eve of his arrival seemed unaware or unimpressed by the visit.
“I think it’s a big sham,” said 62-year-old Medford resident Lee Saltzman, who said he plans to vote for a Republican in the general election. “The only reason Kasich is still in the race is to get a contested election in the end.”
Kasich will make his campaign stop at a gym at Central Medford High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and Kasich is scheduled to appear at 6:30 p.m.
Natalie Hurd, a spokeswoman for the Medford School District, said the Kasich campaign originally asked for a bigger gym but changed the venue to a smaller gym on the campus. The gym is rented out for $50 an hour.
“They asked us to set up 300 seats,” she said. “But we have the capability to pull out the bleachers to accommodate more people.”
Kasich, who has won only one state in the primary campaign, and fellow GOP candidate Ted Cruz have agreed to divide their efforts in upcoming contests, with Cruz focusing on Indiana and Kasich devoting his efforts to Oregon and New Mexico. Kasich's visit to Medford comes two days after Trump swept all five primaries in the New England area.
According to an Associated Press analysis, Trump has 987 delegates, Cruz has 562 and Kasich has 153. Marco Rubuo, who dropped out of the race in March, still leads Kasich with 171 delegates. To win the nomination, a candidate must have 1,237 delegate votes.
Saltzman said his ideal presidential ticket would be Trump for president and Cruz for vice president, or vice versa. He said he’d be happy if Cruz were appointed to the Supreme Court.
“I’d vote for Trump in a heartbeat,” he said. “I wouldn’t vote for Hillary (Clinton) if my life depended on it.”
Republican leaders Sal and Jan Esquivel of Medford said they didn't plan to attend the Kasich event.
“We’re not real excited either,” said Rep. Sal Esquivel, a Medford resident. “It’s difficult to support someone you know can’t win mathematically.”
Esquivel’s wife, Jan, past president of Jackson County Republican Women, said, “I’m disappointed that Cruz gave up Oregon so easily.”
Teri Eaves, a 56-year-old Medford resident, said she’s not particularly impressed with any of the Republican candidates.
“I think the Republicans are like a bunch of teenage boys,” she said.
Eaves said Bernie Sanders and Trump are the two candidates in the race who are really shaking things up, while Kasich has projected a different image.
“He’s probably the most mild-mannered of the bunch,” she said.
Despite her concerns about the nature of the Republican race, Eaves said, “I’d rather have Donald Trump get in than Ted Cruz.”
Some local residents had to be reminded who Kasich is, while others denounced the antics on display during the primary season.
“I feel the Republican Party is grasping at straws,” said 27-year-old Medford resident Patrick McIntire. “I feel the Republican Party is on the verge of becoming irrelevant.”
McIntire was somewhat appreciative, but not particularly excited, about Kasich coming to town.
“At least he’s making an effort to come to Medford,” he said. “He just doesn’t have the star power.”