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Ohio Governor John Kasich Discusses 2nd Term Agenda (And Sounds Like A Presidential Candidate)

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HH: I’m staying focused on Tuesday, and maybe the biggest winner of all, the biggest wave of many big waves swept across Ohio, where Governor John Kasich carried 86 of Ohio’s 88 counties. He even carried my home county of Trumbull County, and I welcome now Governor John Kasich. Congratulations.
JK: Well Hugh, it was, thank you. Thank you very much. It really feels great to have had that kind of a win.

HH: What do you put that down to, because 64% in a purple state makes people stand up and say what in the heck is Kasich doing there to get so many? I think one out of four Democrats actually voted for you. They didn’t choose to stay home or not to vote. They actually pulled the lever for Kasich.

JK: You know, I think I, Hugh, I think the other things is, not bragging, but it’s pointing something out. I think we got like 26% of the African-American vote, which is really terrific, too.

HH: Yup.

JK: Look, I mean, you and I have been talking about these things for a long time. The number one purpose for all of us is job creation. If you’re not creating jobs, then nothing’s going to work. But fortunately, we’re up a quarter of a million, and we are running a surplus. And then, as I like to tell you, Hugh, that when you’re doing that, then you have an obligation to reach out to people. So you know, we’ve been able to provide help to the mentally ill instead of, they were in a default situation where you ended up in a prison, you know, and that’s not right. And we still have a long way to go on that, but we’re pulling folks out of the shadows. So the mentally ill, they’re going to get treatments so they can lead a normal life. The drug addicted, we’re making sure that we’re in a position where we can give them a chance to redeem their life. The working poor, so that they have some kind of rational health care. If you’ve got a child that’s autistic, you know, you’re going to be able to get insurance, which you couldn’t get before. If you’re developmentally disabled, we’re trying to put you in as much of a regular workplace as possible. So you know, I like to think of it as a 360 program – create the jobs, build prosperity, and leave no one behind. And with our friends in the minority community, we are fulfilling state law and making sure that we can help folks in some way to create entrepreneurship.

HH: Now Governor, presidents in their second term have been jinxed over the last three decades. What about governors in their second term? What’s your agenda with the legislature? What do you want them to do?

JK: Well, look, again, Hugh, you’ve got to keep creating jobs. And secondly, we have too high of an income tax in Ohio, and that’s not a good thing. And you know, like a hundred things we’re going to do. We can chew gum and walk at the same time – workforce development, trying to get a real handle on the cost of higher education, trying to get people excited in K-12, and yet having accountability in the classroom, I mean, the list just goes on and on – welfare reform. I mean, we want welfare 2.0. If you’re getting something, we want to combine what you get with job training, with businesses involves so that you can get a job. I mean, it’s not that complicated, right? And there’ll be a lot of exciting things we’ll do, because we are basically in an idea administration, and we’re just going to keep pushing the ideas. And hey, look, I mean, you know Ohio. I mean, 86 out of 88 counties? That’s just unbelievable, isn’t it?

HH: Oh, I don’t think, maybe George Voinovich carried Warren once, but I don’t think any Democrat president or governor, any Republican candidate for president or governor has ever carried my hometown, and you did, so hat’s off. Let me ask you, though, the fact of the matter remains that there have been four huge elections in my lifetime. We’re about the same age, but there was 1980, there was 1994, there was 2010, and there was 2014. These are great elections for Republicans. You’ve been involved in three of the four of those. And what made Tuesday night happen? What was the national story, John Kasich?

JK: Well, I think there’s a large, there was largely a rejection of President Obama, because, and a lack of excitement, I should say, on the part of the voters. I mean, you know, a lot of Democrats just didn’t get out and vote. They were disappointed, or they were out of energy. And Republicans wanted to go out and have a message. Now those places and those states where Republicans actually had a message, where they had actually accomplished things, then I think you saw stronger results. But you know, to me, Hugh, the only way to be successful in politics is to be promoting ideas. You can’t run against people. You’ve got to run for them. You better run for ideas, and you’ve got to get them out there. So we covered those elections – 1980? You know, the deal in 1980 was Reagan had a lot, a couple things he wanted to do – fix the economy, break down the Berlin Wall. People went enough, yeah, I got that, I think that makes sense. If you go forward into, I don’t remember the other one you mentioned, but…

HH: ’94. Yeah, 1994.

JK: Which one? ’94? I think ’94, we had the Contract With America.

HH: Yup.

JK: It wasn’t just that the people were frustrated with Clinton, President Clinton. But we also had the Contract With America. Ideas move things. You know, I think President Obama won because people felt, okay, maybe we can have a different way. It really hasn’t turned out that way. And in this election, this was like okay, you know, we’ve got to reset things. And just because I happen to be a Democrat or a Republican doesn’t mean you’re going to get my vote. That’s what I kind of think. What do you think? What do you think it is?

HH: Well, I think it’s because Americans wanted a U-turn. They tried big government and it doesn’t work. They want to try government that works as opposed to either big or small. They want it to work. Paul Ryan, your colleague and friend, was on the show on Tuesday night, and he believes that a budget can come through the House in a hurry. You were the chairman of the House Budget Committee in your prior political life. Can Congress turn on a dime and put bills on the President’s desk? Can they actually make it work, John Kasich?

JK: Well, they should. I mean, what are they there for? I mean, if you’re not there to do something, I don’t know what the heck you’d be there for. And I think they’re going to do that. I mean, I at least am very hopeful they’re going to do that. You know, put together a vision of what you think government ought to look like. When you look at the IRS, and you look at the VA, and you look at Social Security, or not Social Security, you’ve got the VA, you’ve got the IRS, give me the other ones, Hugh, where we’ve seen tremendous…

HH: Secret Service. Secret Service, yeah.

JK: Yeah, Secret Service. I mean, guys climbing over the fence? I mean, when you take a look at that, you know, government is bloated in that town. There has been no real reform in that town. And so what we really need is we need a vision. We need a vision about entitlements, and here’s the other thing that I would tell you. I believe that it is possible to get a better performance out of government that is innovated and actually spends less. We’ve been able to do it in Ohio. I mean, when I came in, we were $8 billion in the hole. Now we’re running a billion and a half surplus. So to me, there should be a vision that they express about what that place ought to look like and put it on the table, and let the voters ultimately decide. And don’t be afraid that somebody’s going to criticize you because you have a bold and a new idea. I mean, that’s what it’s about.

HH: I’ve got two questions left, two questions left. I did not know you got one out of four African-American votes. How did you do among Latino voters, Governor Kasich?

JK: Well, you know, we haven’t done the focus in Ohio, to be honest with you. I don’t know what those numbers are. I’ve only seen the African-American numbers. But I just told my, I said to my wife the other day, because she’s very in tune with the community, that we need to really get them together to understand a lot of their agenda. And so it’s going to be a focus of mine over the period of the next couple of months once I get done resting and everything. And we want to pull them all together. We want to pull the entire minority community together and say what would you like? What do you think? Because Hugh, to be honest with you, it isn’t that complicated. When we do state contracts, 85% of the contracts go to a majority contractor. I mean, why shouldn’t minorities have 15%? I mean, it’s just ridiculous, right? Get everybody involved, lift everybody, include everyone. And you’ve got to have a good agenda.

HH: Provided it’s not a quota, it’s a fair opportunity, you bet. Now Governor, toughest question of all. Kickoff is in a couple of hours – Browns/Bengals. Who are you cheering for?’

JK: Too close to call. You think I’m done with politics? Too close to call.

HH: (laughing) Come on, you know that…

JK: Listen, Hugh, before you dump me here, look. Let me just say something. We’ve got to pay attention to our friends in the minority community. So when you say not a quote, I don’t know what a quota means, but there are goals. So in the state of Ohio, there is a goal that we do 15% of all state contracts to minorities. Now maybe somebody would call that a quota. I think it’s a goal that needs to be met, because we want to make sure that every single group in the state of Ohio and in the country is optimistic and feel they are getting a fair chance. And I don’t know, I wouldn’t call that a quota. I guess I would call that a goal. And we intend to meet those kinds of goals. I’ll give you one last one. The Opportunity Corridor, it’s going to be, I don’t know, $300-400 billion dollar project in Cleveland? We’ve set aside 20% for minority contractors, because I want them to get work, and I want them to become a majority contractor. You’ve got to start somewhere.

HH: I will study up on this. We will spend an hour talking about this, because the line between quota and goals is an important one. The quota’s a bad thing. The goal is a good thing. So I look forward to that conversation. Governor John Kasich, hat’s off to you on an extraordinary political night. Good luck in your second term. We’ll talk often, I hope, throughout it.

End of interview.


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