Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me on today’s show to discuss the state of his campaign:
HH: But I begin this hour with Ohio governor, John Kasich, candidate for president. Governor, welcome back. Good to talk to you.
JK: Thank you, sir. Happy birthday.
HH: Oh yes, thank you. I was on Don Lemon last night, they were asking me about you and whether or not you would get out, and I said, “I kind of know John Kasich a while and watched him. I don’t think he’s going anywhere.” Am I right about that?
JK: Why would they want me to get out, what kind of talk is that? These guys have spent $50 million and they got a handful of delegates more than me and a big chunk of their money they’ve spent trashing me, and who wants me to get out? The establishment because they have always lived in fear of me, and I’m finally getting my moment here, Hugh, where people can find out who I am and we’re getting big crowds and picking up donors and political support and I don’t know who these people are.
HH: Well, the path is obviously in Michigan for you. It starts in Michigan and maybe in Massachusetts and Minnesota as well on March 1st, I’m not sure, but you’re spending a lot of time in Michigan. What’s the reaction to Ohio governor (laughs) in Michigan. You banned the use of he “n”-word (laughs).
JK: Oh, it’s fine, we’re getting crowds up there, but look, we’re coming up on Tuesday, we got Vermont, we got Massachusetts, we got Virginia, and we’ll see how play in other places. We don’t need to win, we just need to be respectful and accumulate some delegates. At some point, this thing does move north to Michigan, Illinois, obviously Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York. It’s just a long road. We’ve had three elections and there’s 51 to go.
HH: So people are afraid, the establishment, is afraid that Donald Trump will run away with this and they seem to believe–
JK: Then why didn’t they do something earlier?
HH: Good point. So your response is you could be the guy they rally behind.
JK: Absolutely, I beat Hillary by 11 points in the USA Today poll.
JK: We’re not picking class president, we’re picking the president of the United States.
HH: So let’s go to that. Michael Hayden is going to be my guest and this new book by the director of the CIA and the NSA goes to the point about temperament and the ability to run a very complicated national intelligence agency.
HH: The temperament thing matters so much. DO you expect it to matter in the voting booth? Should people be considering the stakes here?
JK: Well, I think ought to think about records and accomplishments, right? You can always run for office and promise things, but you got to talk about who’s delivered. What have you gotten done? Have you balanced the federal budget, have you reformed welfare, have you reformed the Pentagon, have you run a a state? Has the environment inside the state improved? What’s the situation? What have you done? And that’s all related to temperament and a lot of different things.
HH: One of the points that Hayden makes is that targeted killing has become a “core part of the American way of war and to do that required a kind of exquisite intelligence detailed here. IT also requires very difficult operational and political decisions. Now Governor Kasich, I don’t if you thought about that, but the drone strikes, that’s the most awesome power the president has. He eradicates people. I”m not sure the American voters focused on that. DO you think they are?
JK: On drone strikes?
JK: No, I don’t think they know that much about drone strikes. I’ve followed a lot of that, but they hear about it, and I know that they know that sometimes these drone strikes take out some very bad people and the question is, should the CIA do the targeting with the drones or should it be the Pentagon? I prefer the Pentagon over the CIA.
HH: Oh, why is that?
JK: Because the Pentagon is more experienced in the area of targeting and that’s not just an opinion I have, it’s an opinion that comes from people who have been involves with both.
HH: “The CIA has grown much more robust,” General Hayden writes, “in terms of it’s operational muscles.” It’s got activities all around the globe, more like the OSS was in fact, as the old CIA used to be. Are you comfortable with that, John Kasich?
JK: We have to have the human intelligence. Part of our problem is that we don’t have it. We don’t have it on the ground and if you don’t have human intelligence, then how are you supposed to fight these people who are devising these incredibly dangerous plots. So yes, but obviously, there has to be civilian oversight. We have to have quality people that run those organizations. But of course, we have to have intelligence. If we don’t intelligence, how we are we supposed to carry out a foreign policy?
HH: And so, are you with Apple or against Apple in their fight to not unlock the phone that the terrorist had.
JK: It’s not a simple yes or no, the answer is the President of the United States should have been able to get our security people and also Apple into a room and say “Fix this.” It’s very complicated, and the simple fact of the matter is, this should be resolved and it shouldn’t be resolved in a court of law, and it shouldn’t be resolved on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. If I were president of the United States, I would put them in a room and I would sit in that room and we wouldn’t leave until we fixed it because it is the obligation of a company to make sure that in the specific cases, not wild goose chases, but in specific cases, that the government is going to have to have access to this kind of information. The issues of changing operating systems or whatever, that’s a different issue. Should the government have carte blanche access to this? I don’t think so, but in these cases, working with the court order in specific cases involving terrorism, I absolutely believe that the government should get what it needs, but this is not something I believe we should be litigating. I think this is something that leadership gets solved in a room and both sides can compromise to getting a satisfactory solution here.
HH: Now Governor Kasich, that might have worked, but now I got a court order. Any doubt in your mind that they got to follow that court order?
JK: Well, I think they ought to be meeting right now. Maybe they now. I don’t know the state of play right now, Hugh. I’m not sure you do, either.
HH: Oh (laughs), I don’t know anything.
JK: I just think that the more we talk about this in a court of law, the more we litigate, the less in good chance in having a proper solution.
HH: Let me turn to political matters. Yesterday, Donald Trump was on. I asked him if he would release his tax returns, he said he would get around to it. Have you released your tax returns, John Kasich?
JK: Yes, we released them for when I ran for governor for a period of time and if need be, we’ll release more.
HH: Do you think that is a useful thing for especially Mitt Romney, held on to his for a long time, he got hammered by the press, he eventually put them out, he got hammered again. That’s why I want them out from everybody.
JK: Yes, I don’t have any problem putting out taxes. There really hasn’t been an issue, but if it becomes an issue, we’ll be glad to have transparency.
HH: You also got into a small kerfuffle with reporters about the “kitchen comment.” I understood it immediately, but it seemed to me to reflect the “gotcha” level of the campaign. It’s silly, actually. What did you make of that episode?
JK: Well, I operate without a net. I walk on a high-wire. I am a spontaneous guy who is real, I am not scripted or using teleprompters and I take an aggressive number of questions in all of my town halls and maybe once in a while, I could be a little bit more artful in what I say. My only point was that from the beginning of my political career, even up to now, that women have played a significant role in helping me and I’m proud of that. We used to town halls, but it was in people’s homes: it was at breakfast tables and in living rooms, drinking coffee and talking about the vision, and Hugh, I understand people get uptight about that, but I have a woman campaign manager, she was my chief of staff. I have a woman lieutenant governor and the only appointment I’ve made to the Ohio supreme court is a woman. So I think what we have to realized is I don’t build my campaigns with basically “K-street” or special interests, I build my campaigns with folks who normally don’t get involved that much in politics.
HH: Speaking of Michigan, Flint is on everybody’s mind. I’m sure you helped town halls up there, and that comes up. Has the government responded adequately or forcefully in your view, John Kasich?
JK: I haven’t studied everything up there, that’s not what I’ve done, but I know that there have been people who have resigned, there have been people who have been fired and Rick Snyder is a problem-solver, and no doubt, that he’s had many sleepless nights but he will get that situation up and running, and I talked to the lieutenant-governor up there today who told me that here are some good things that are happening, but until it turns, I don’t think we’re going to hear as much of the good as we hear about the problems, but Rick Snyder is an effective guy and he will this solved.
HH: Last question, John Kasich. The senate judiciary committee, Republicans voted unanimously today to not hold a hearing on whatever nominee, whomever it is, the president sends forward. They’re just not going to do it. Do you agree with that decision?
JK: I don’t question [it], if I’m an executive, I don’t question the legislative maneuvers. That’s their decision. If they decided not to do anything, then as far as I’m concerned as an executive, they’ve made that decision and I’ll respect that decision.
HH: And are you getting ready to figure out who you’ll nominate in that vacancy’s place come President’s Kasich inauguration?
JK: No, that would be measuring the drapes too soon, Hugh. We’ll start giving that some thought at the right time.
HH: That could come up at a debate, Governor. I’m just saying. I’ll see you in Houston in a couple of nights.
JK: Alright Hugh, I’ll see you then (laughs).
HH: Thank you for joining me.
End of Interview