STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) stepped up his criticism of Donald Trump’s raucous rallies at a town hall here, telling voters that footage of people arguing and punching one another at the events was making America look weak in the eyes of her enemies.
“You see the pictures of the fighting at that rally?” Kasich said, unprompted, near the end of a long question-and-answer session. “Well, let me tell you something about that. Do you know how much the world looks and sees these videos? Our enemies are going to take advantage of it. Our friends are scratching their heads, saying, What the heck is happening?”
In a short news conference after the event, Kasich said he couldn’t “control” Trump but worried that the Republican presidential front-runner was unaware of the consequences when he egged on supporters to punch the people protesting at his rallies.
“I think when people around the world see images of Americans clocking each other at a campaign rally, they’re like, you know – we’re in disarray,” Kasich said. “I mean, it’s going to be used as a propaganda tool. I’ve said that before. No surprise about it. The only thing I can say is, this has to calm down, and look, that’s enough to be said. I’ll have more to say about all these subjects down the road.”
In a battery of Sunday show interviews, Kasich said he commented on the violence at Trump rallies only after taking the time to watch the footage. In Strongsville, Kasich supporters were more conflicted about whom to blame and how the brawls would play with voters.
“Trump’s bringing it on himself,” said Kathie Crombie, 60. “He’s saying, Go ahead, sock ’em, and I’ll pay for your legal fees. He’s too much of a hothead. But voters are fed up with politicians.”
Brian Roenigk, a 49-year old city employee, said, “It’s unfortunate, but I honestly have to blame the liberals. They tried to shut the rally down, and that caused the problems. I’ve never seen that at a democratic event before. It was scary.”