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April 02, 2016

Things got awkward during John Kasich's speech to Pennsylvania conservatives

Candidate wasn't well-received at Republican conference

Two presidential candidates spoke to conservatives in Central Pennsylvania Friday. The crowd liked one of them. The other? Not so much.

Republicans — or, should we say, Donald Trump chasers – Ted Cruz and John Kasich were speakers at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill. There were troves of Cruz supporters, according to PennLive, and plenty of applause for the Texas senator.

Kasich's reception was less welcoming. Some in attendance chided the Ohio governor as a "progressive" and told him to go back to his home state, according to the website. While his anecdote about growing up near Pittsburgh played well, when it came to the issues, the crowd was hostile, including this testy exchange (via PennLive):

Some in the crowd also questioned Kasich's education record in Ohio, and that also did not go well.

He tried to answer before a woman said, "Not true, governor. Not true."

"I just need you to listen for a second. You don't have to agree with me," Kasich said.

The woman quickly said, "I don't."

Kasich offered a soft laugh as he pointed out that he hadn't said anything yet.

BillyPenn notes those questioning the candidates were quite tough on Kasich but practically adoring of Cruz. It got to the point where attendees were even finding ways to passively needle Kasich's college education. Per BillyPenn:

His speaking was rarely interrupted by applause or positive cheers. About the only response to something Kasich said was early in the speech when he said he went to Ohio State.

A Penn State fan shouted, “We Are.”

With the very real possibility of none of the three GOP candidates getting enough delegates to win the nomination outright, Pennsylvania's April 26 primary — usually too late in the game to matter — could prove important.

And despite Friday's awkward event, Kasich actually seems to have a shot in the Keystone State. Conservatives in the center of the state may not have liked him, but students at Villanova raved about the "unifying candidate" after he spoke at the school in March. Plus, a recent Franklin & Marshall poll found he's within striking distance of Trump among Pennsylvania Republicans.

As for the tough crowd, Kasich seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole thing, according to reports. He even opened his speech with a little April Fools' Day joke, according to The Morning Call, saying that snow was on the way.