Laying out 'two paths,' John Kasich issues stark warning to GOP

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday issued a clear, stark warning for what he sees as the "two paths" forward for the country in the 2016 race, deriding the policy proposals and tone of "vicious" attacks launched between his rivals, and calling the election one of the most consequential in history.

In remarks to the Women's National Republican Club in Midtown Manhattan, the Republican presidential candidate alluded to his opponents Donald Trump and Ted Cruz while cautioning his party and the nation against what he sees as "the path that exploits anger, encourages resentment, turns fear into hatred and divides people."

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"This path solves nothing, demeans our history, weakens our country and cheapens each of us. It has but one beneficiary and that is to the politician who speaks of it," he said. "The other path is the one America has been down before. It is well trod, it is at times steep, but it is solid."

Although Kasich never mentioned his GOP competitors by name, his targets were clear. He listed off a string of policy proposals that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz have floated -- including a religious test for immigrants, targeting of Muslim neighborhoods for surveillance, imposing 'draconian' tariffs, dropping out of NATO, instituting a value-added tax, and "whimsical cuts in 'fraud, waste and abuse.'"

"I have stood on a stage and watched with amazement as candidates wallowed in the mud, viciously attacked one another, called each other liars and disparaged each other's character," Kasich said. "Those who continuously push that type of behavior are not worthy of the office they are seeking."

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Laying out 'two paths,' John Kasich issues stark warning to GOP
MILFORD, NH - SEPTEMBER 7: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich greets supporters at the Labor Day parade on September 7, 2015 in Milford, New Hampshire. Kasich, buoyed by what observers called a strong performance in the first GOP debate, has emerged as a first tier presidential candidate with voters in New Hampshire, the nation's first primary state. (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, waves as he arrives for a campaign stop at Robie's Country Store Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Hooksett,N.H. The nation's first presidential primary in New Hampshire is less than six months away.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks during a campaign stop at New England College Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Henniker, N.H. The nation's earliest presidential primary in new Hampshire is less then six months away. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich talks with a fairgoer during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, shakes hands after speaking to a packed crowd during a campaign stop at the VFW Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to members of the media in the spin room following the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, center, greets members of the media at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, before tonight's first Republican presidential debate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a town hall meeting, Friday, July 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich arrives for a town hall style meeting Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. after announcing his plans earlier in the day to seek the Republican nomination for president. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich announces he is running for the 2016 Republican party’s nomination for president during a campaign rally at Ohio State University, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Kasich, a two-term governor and former congressman, has little name recognition in the crowded GOP field, but he is already airing television ads in New Hampshire where he is heading immediately after making his run official. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich pauses before he announces his run for the 2016 Republican party’s nomination for president during a campaign rally at Ohio State University, Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Kasich, 63, launched his campaign before a crowd of 2,000 at an event marking the entry of a strong-willed and sometimes abrasive governor in a nomination race now with 16 notable Republicans. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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The speech comes at a moment in Kasich's campaign when he lags far behind Trump and Cruz in delegates for the Republican nomination and when his only hope of snagging the GOP nomination would be a contested convention in Cleveland this summer. His speech in New York City offered him the chance to flatly outline many of the critiques of Trump and Cruz he has offered on the campaign trail but before a wider audience in the nation's media capital.

Consistently maintaining he will "not take the low road to the highest office in the land," Kasich has become more and more comfortable distinguishing himself and drawing sharp contrasts with his GOP rivals in recent weeks. But his speech Tuesday serves as a particularly crisp warning about his concerns with other candidates and the nation's political climate.

Related: How Kasich's 2016 Run Got on the Offensive

As Kasich outlined a "path to darkness" in his speech, he described people who view the country "as a broken place, and the people who did the breaking are 'the other:' people with more money—or less money, people with different-sounding last names, or different religious beliefs, or different colored skin or lifestyles."

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Laying out 'two paths,' John Kasich issues stark warning to GOP
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hangar in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to a supporter as he leaves a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A person uses an iPad to record U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hangar in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A man has a bumper sticker on this back before U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hangar in Rome, New York April 12, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Matt Cuda from Verona, New York, wears a T-shirt of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at a Trump campaign rally in Albany, New York, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in an airplane hangar in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer at a campaign rally in Albany, New York, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A protester raises his arms as he is escorted out past supporters of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Trump campaign rally in Albany, New York, April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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"Some who feed off of the fears and anger that is felt by some of us and exploit it feed their own insatiable desire for fame or attention," he proclaimed, then alluded to the slogan of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump: "That could drive America down into a ditch, not make us great again."

On the campaign trail, Kasich has voiced exasperation with other candidates who he feels make promises they know are unattainable, and called out those actions Tuesday morning: "Just as an all-consuming fear of America in decline ends in visions of America's destruction, a political strategy based on exploiting Americans instead of lifting them up inevitably leads to divisions, paranoia, isolation, and promises that can never, ever be fulfilled."

As Kasich outlined the second path he sees - the one he's making the argument he could be part of - he claimed, "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."

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