Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich plans to explain to voters this morning that they should not "let anybody, particularly a politician, tell you that America is not great," delivering a strong rebuke of GOP front-runner Donald Trump's pledge to "make America great again," according to a draft of a speech he is set to deliver in Manhattan today.
Kasich will present "two paths" -- one that he will explain "exploits anger, encourages resentment, turns fear into hatred and divides people" -- and another "higher path" in which "America's supposed decline becomes its finest hour, because we came together to say 'no' to those who would prey on our human weakness and instead chose leadership that serves, helping us look up, not down," according to the prepared remarks.
The Ohio governor plans to lay out a laundry list of criticisms he has voiced about Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, his other remaining opponent, in recent weeks - from Trump's proposal that his Supreme Court nominees should investigate Hillary Clinton for her email usage, to Cruz's suggestion that law enforcement should monitor neighborhoods with large Muslim populations - calling the ideas "disturbing," "whimsical" and "hollow promises."
"Those who continuously push that type of behavior are not worthy of the office they are seeking," Kasich is expected to say.
As he has done repeatedly on the campaign trail, Kasich plans to appeal to Trump's supporters by championing an alternative vision that he says recognizes "America's strength is that we are bound by shared ideas, by communities and families and people who are free, creative and giving," according to the draft. "This is what makes America great, not some politician or some law. And, notwithstanding all our challenges, America still is great."
That optimistic message should take the place of the vision he will say "some" have presented of America as a "dark" and "broken place" plagued by "the other."
"We are told that we are no longer respected in the world," Kasich will say, in a clear reference to Trump's campaign rhetoric. "In fact, we are even told that foreign governments are actually controlling our destiny because they have become smarter than us and tougher than us."
Kasich has in recent weeks grown increasingly critical of his opponents for the Republican nomination, and late last month, he said for the first time that Trump was "clearly not prepared to be president." He has hinted that he might not be willing to back Trump if the businessman wins the GOP's presidential nomination, but he has not explicitly rescinded a prior pledge to do so.
The governor trails far behind in the delegate count, and his speech today is scheduled to take place one week before New Yorkers head to the polls to vote in the Republican and Democratic primaries. Kasich has said he expects to win delegates in the Empire State, although his campaign has conceded that Trump will likely finish first.