Livonia – Ohio Gov. John Kasich is pulling out all of the stops to win Michigan’s March 8 Republican presidential primary, even heaping praise on Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.
At a campaign town hall event Tuesday in Livonia, the two-term Ohio governor invoked the MSU coach while talking at length about the need for better leadership coming from the White House.
“Let’s talk for a second about Tom Izzo. I mean that guy is magic,” Kasich said, garnering some applause from a 500-person crowd that seemed equally divided between MSU and University of Michigan fans.
“I remember when … I heard rumors they were fixing to get rid of him (and) I’m thinking, we get him at Ohio State, don’t tell anybody,” Kasich said jokingly.
Kasich then laid on the praise for Izzo’s 516-204 winning program at MSU that spans 20 years.
“What does Izzo do? Izzo gets his players to always play at a higher level,” Kasich said. “You don’t read about problems coming out of that program. He has high expectations and high demands and they meet it.”
Izzo-like leadership is lacking in Washington, D.C., Kasich said.
“The problem we’ve had in Washington is we’ve not had the kind of leadership that would get us to the next level,” said Kasich, a former nine-term congressman.
Kasich, a 1974 graduate of Ohio State, began his hour-long speech by offering a truce with Spartan and Wolverine fans.
"Let's get something straight: Between now and the primary, we’re all united,” he said.