Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at UF

John Kasich, former governor of Ohio and presidential candidate, speaks to around 800 people Wednesday in the University Auditorium at UF. Kasich spoke about lessons that he had learned throughout his life and encouraged students in the audience to try and impact the world in any way they can. “Search for possibilities,” he said. “Don’t close your minds to what you can do.” After the speech, he took questions from the audience.


John Kasich said he’s not running for president again.

It’s not his style.

“If I can’t win, I’m not going to do it,” the former 2016 presidential candidate said.

UF’s Accent Speakers Bureau hosted Kasich, Ohio’s former 69th governor, Wednesday evening at University Auditorium to a sold-out audience of about 800. The speech lasted about 40 minutes and was followed by a 20-minute Q&A session.

This was Accent’s first event of the Spring semester. Kasich was paid $60,000 to speak, according to his contract with the university.

Kasich’s presentation didn’t focus on politics but rather on telling students how important it is to use their lives to make a difference in the world.

“When you realize that life is short, you’ll want to live a life bigger than yourself,” he said.

Although he has served in government for more than 20 years, Kasich warned students not to go into politics with a blind eye.

The field has become a popularity contest rather than something that promotes positive change, Kasich said. It’s important to do little things to the best of one’s ability, instead of trying to gain personal attention, because this allows people to make a positive impact in the lives of others, he said.

“Unless you are connected to people who are really powerful, keep your options open,” Kasich said.

During his first year as an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, Kasich said he wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon asking what his job was like and if they could meet to discuss it further. A week letter, Kasich was mailed an invitation from Nixon to meet him at the White House.

His meeting with Nixon was only 20 minutes long. Kasich said he had the opportunity to speak with him about the political field and the importance of remaining civil in making a difference.

“I tell you this story because I want you to know that this could be you,” Kasich said.

Kasich did bring up political issues that are important to him such as gun control and expanding Medicaid, the federal program that helps cover medical costs for people with limited income.

“If someone is unstable and they pose a threat to others and they pose a threat to themselves, we should be able to go to the courthouse and have their gun taken away,” Kasich said.

Although they are far from politicians, Kasich said he looks up to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, and Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

“These are people who understood the importance of opening their minds to make a difference,” Kasich said. “If you want to be interesting and useful, you need to explore like them.”

Before opening the floor to questions, Kasich talked about how a student at Clemson University asked him for a hug during a presentation in 2016. The student said his mother was an alcoholic.

“I felt like I was 10 feet tall and all it was, was a hug,” Kasich said.

Amid discussions about the government shutdown and civility in politics, one UF student asked Kasich for a hug, to which Kasich responded with an embrace.

The student declined to comment.

Jarrod Rodriguez, a 19-year-old UF political science sophomore, said he attended the event because he wanted to learn more about the reasons for Kasich’s political views.

Although Kasich did not talk about politics as much as he hoped for, Rodriguez said that he felt inspired after hearing his speech.

“It wasn’t just about politics and controversy,” Rodriguez said. “He was genuinely trying to motivate us to do good regardless of what political side we are on.”

Contact Taylor Roth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Taylor__Roth.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that Elon Musk is the CEO of Tesla and that Kasich's meeting with Richard Nixon was 20 minutes long.