On Kasich campaign stops in Nashville, Knoxville

In a Nashville campaign stop Saturday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich blasted the name-calling that has ricocheted between his opponents throughout the campaign, according to the Tennessean.

“Enough of this trash,” he said repeatedly as a crowd of supporters rose for a standing ovation. “Be better than that. We’re America.”

Kasich got a boost before his speech from Alberto Gonzales, the dean of Belmont University’s law school and former U.S. Attorney General, who introduced him to a crowd of hundreds at Rocketown. Gonzales reflected on his experiences working with President George W. Bush and said Kasich had the right temperament for the job.

During a question-and-answer session after a brief speech, Kasich supporters in the audience seemed frustrated by the tenor of the presidential debate so far. One supporter urged Kasich to run as a third-party candidate, a request he denied even as he admitted his party had problems.

“We’re not the party of ideas as much as we should. And we need to be,” he said. “You know why we got Obamacare? Because Republicans didn’t do anything.”

While he didn’t mention Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio or Sen. Ted Cruz by name, he repeatedly referenced their verbal sparring. Kasich said his opponents were “yelling and wrestling on the floor” during the latest debate.

At a Knox County Republican Party gathering, reports the News Sentinel, Kasich talked balanced budgets and job creation.

Kasich… said he balanced the federal budget four years in a row as budget committee chairman during the time he was in Congress from 1983-2000 and helped pay down the national debt. Capital-gains taxes were cut so business people were awarded for creating jobs, he said.

“Jobs were growing, and the economy was expanding,” Kasich said.

He said then-President Bill Clinton “tried to take credit” for the surplus while being dragged into going along with Congress.

Kasich stopped short of criticizing his opponents for the GOP nomination in what has become one of the most contentious primary races in modern memory.

“I’m not going to smear anyone running for president,” he said. “We’re not electing a class president. We’re selecting the leader of the free world.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. who on Sunday endorsed Marco Rubio, also spoke at the Knoxville gathering Saturday evening.

Alexander, who made unsuccessful runs for president in 1996 and 2000, said he felt like he was watching a “mud-wrestling match” during the debate. But running for president is “very humbling,” he said.