By Peter Sloggatt
Fans of Fox News network’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” might have noticed a few familiar details during Monday night’s show.
No, not John Kasich, although the Ohio governor and ‘third-wheel’ candidate in the Republican presidential campaign was Van Susteren’s guest for Monday night’s hour-long live broadcast of “On The Record.” Local viewers, instead, might have recognized some faces on the set in the background. Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia was up there. So was State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) and a host of Huntington’s Republican Party faithful: Nick Lalotta, Josh Price and Darryl St. George, and its chairman Toni Tepe.
Lloyd Harbor resident Sal Ferro, owner/pitchman for Alure Home Improvements, had a seat in the front row.
Familiar, too, was the shot that filled Fox News viewers’ television screens every time the broadcast cut away to commercial. It was the façade of The Paramount on New York Avenue, its marquee emblazoned with the “On The Record” logo, and a welcome to John Kasich. Fox had booked the venue to stage a town hall style meeting with Kasich, followed by the live broadcast of “On The Record.”
Tickets were made available online, and just over 1,000 or so gained a seat in the audience. It began with the town hall meeting. State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) introduced the governor, who had arrived minutes earlier after a stop at Hofstra University in Hempstead.
Kasich, who is running a solid third in the race for the Republican nomination, addressed recent calls from his rivals, New York business mogul Donald Trump and Texas Governor Ted Cruz, to drop out of the race.
“Both of them say I should get out of the race because I’m taking their votes. I agree with them,” Kasich said. But he predicted no one would reach the July convention with enough delegates to lock in the nomination, and he hoped to prevail by convincing delegates that he’s the best candidate to beat the Democrats’ nominee for president.
“There’s going to be an open convention and it’s gonna be cool. The delegates are going to decide who can win in the fall,” Kasich said.
Kasich ran through a litany of subjects in the town hall meeting, touting his record of balanced budgets as Ohio governor, and sharing a hard line view on ISIS. The governor had time for just a few questions from audience members before the live broadcast.
As for the campaign, Kasich said he’s staying the race.
“My life has been one lightning strike after another, all due to the grace of God,” he said. And, he added, “I believe in miracles.”
When Kasich Came To Dinner
Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich wanted Italian. And, after a busy day campaigning with stops to meet students at Hofstra University, a town hall meeting at the Paramount and a live hour-long broadcast of “On The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” the candidate had an appetite.
Enter Sal D’s, the Italian restaurant in Huntington’s Southdown Center where Kasich, his campaign team and a handful of local Republicans who helped arrange the campaign stops dined Monday night.
“He requested good Italian food,” said state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci. “I set it up at Sal D’s.”
Lupinacci had introduced Kasich at the meeting with students at Hofstra where the assemblyman is both a graduate and part-time teacher. He lent a hand to the Kasich campaign to with arrangements for a number of campaign stops, as well dinner arrangement.
“Andy Raia and I pretty much spent all day with him,” said Lupinacci.
“We were with him in the morning at Hofstra, where I introduced him, and again later at The Paramount,” Lupinacci said., adding that after seeing the grueling schedule the candidate faced, he had offered to have takeout sent in.
“But, no, he wanted to eat in the restaurant,” Lupinacci said.
Kasich, Raia and Lupinacci, Suffolk Republican Chairman John LaValle, Huntington Chairman Toni Tepe, campaign staff and others enjoyed an hour-and-a-half sit down. Kasich enjoyed hot and cold antipasto, veal picatta, clams in a spicy marinara sauce, pasta Bolognese, and for dessert, tartuffo and tiramisu.