By Gabriel Rom
As GOP presidential candidate John Kasich prepared to take the stage Wednesday for a MSNBC townhall event at St. Helen’s Church in Howard Beach, an onlooker shook his head in disbelief.
“I can’t remember the last time I saw a presidential candidate in Queens,” the man said to no one in particular.
Kasich lags behind both Republican rivals Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the polls, but as primary season shifts eastward toward what he has called his home turf, Kasich made his case to voters as a more moderate alternative to the brashness of his two competitors.
“For the first time in this campaign, people are finally starting to hear my message,” Kasich said.
Referring to Queens residents as “god-fearing” people who “have common sense,” Kasich appealed to middle-class values, his reform brand of conservatism and his electability vs. Democrats.
“I don’t hate the establishment,” Kasich said. “But I can move the establishment.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), the only Queens Republican in the Council, said he supports Kasich because of his ability to unify disparate wings of the party.
“He did it in Ohio, he can do it all across America,” Ulrich said.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@