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Ohio Governor John Kasich On His Momentum, The Debates, The Iran Deal, And Hillary

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Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me on today’s show:




HH: Well, as I said on the day of the debate, there were winners on that stage, and there were people who didn’t win. One of the people who won last week is Ohio Governor John Kasich. He joins me now. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the program, always a pleasure to talk to you.

JK: Thank you, thank you, always a pleasure to talk to you.

HH: You know, they think I’m a home towner because you’re the Ohio governor and that I’m going to go soft on you in the debates, and probably the opposite. The people that I like the most are probably going to, and I like them all, actually. I’ve got no favorites. But I’m going to have to throw hardballs at John Kasich, because they say I’m going to lay down for the Ohio guy.

JK: Well, why don’t you just ask questions about policy?

HH: That’s it. That’s it. And what did you think of the debate last week?

JK: I thought it was good. You know, I enjoyed it. I was, you know, my attitude was one of letting people know about my record and a little bit about, you know, who I am. And I think it went pretty well.

HH: There wasn’t enough about the Iran deal, and that’s where I want to start, Governor Kasich. You’re running for commander-in-chief. The Iran deal is the most important consequential international agreement of the last 35 years. What do you think of it? What would you do with it as president?

JK: Well, first of all, I’m hoping that it isn’t going to be approved. I think Chuck Schumer coming out against this agreement gives you hope that it won’t be approved, and we will leave the sanctions on. That’s what I hope is going to happen, and I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what happens, but I think all the effort has got to be made to rounding up some Democrats who are going to vote to override a veto. And then if in fact it does go through, I think we’ve got to monitor every single crossed T and dotted I, and I think at the same time, the parties to the agreement ought to agree that any single violation of this agreement requires the sanctions to be slapped back on with additional sanctions. And then we’ve got to see where we are.

HH: It came up in the debate, but it did not get enough time. General Soleimani already violated the agreement. He left Iran and flew by commercial airline to Moscow. He’s a very bad guy. He’s responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans. Isn’t that enough, John Kasich, to pull out of this deal right now?

JK: Again, I’m hopeful, Hugh, that with Chuck Schumer saying that he’s going to, and I think when I was on the last time, I brought that up to you.

HH: Yes.

JK: …that I was hoping that he would do it, and everybody kind of laughed at me, but yet he’s come out against it. So I think any one of these things helps to solidify the case against it. And you know, it also raises very serious questions, of course, about our continued difficulties with Russia. And it’s pretty amazing to me that we have not been able to give the kind of weaponry to the Ukrainians that they need to be able to defend themselves. I mean, I have no idea what we’re waiting for. At the same time, I don’t know why we didn’t provide some aid to those rebels over in Syria who wanted to topple Assad a year ago or more. So it’s been a feckless foreign policy, and it’s, you know, we’re, this is, we’re getting the results of it, which are not good.

HH: Now Governor Kasich, when you were on the stage up there, they did, they tried to provoke some arguments among the candidates. And I’m not going to do that when I’m asking the questions. I just want to hear people disagree when they disagree, but not argue about things. I am curious if you think that the moderators were too adversarial and not allowing you guys to talk to each other as much as ought to have happened.

JK: No, I mean, if you think I’m going to start criticizing moderators, you’re out of your mind.

HH: (laughing)

JK: (laughing)

HH: You can criticize me at the end. You’re from, they…

JK: Well, that’s true. I mean, you and I are a little different. I’ll get you up there in Salem and I’ll take you down.

HH: So my question is, though, really, this debate, what would you want people to see of it? I want Republican primary voters…

JK: Well, I don’t think debates are a way to pick a president, okay, to being with. I mean, I’m in New Hampshire today. I had an hour meeting with one group. I’m going to do a town hall tonight. It’ll be another hour. And you know, you remember Moses? Moses said to God, well you know, I don’t think I can lead this. I can’t even speak, and that’s how Aaron came on the scene, right? So I don’t think we judge our leaders by whether they can give a clever answer to a question or how they perform in a debate, but that’s kind of what we have. But fortunately, at the end of the day, the people that emerge are the ones that I think have substance and experience. But you know, so I mean, debates are part of it, but I don’t think it’s the most effective way to pick a leader.

HH: Now…

JK: Look, Hugh, in my state, we’ve had many problems, many challenges. We thought we had Ebola. We had a water crisis in Toledo. God forbid, you know, we had a terrible situation with a shooting in a school. We had a prison escape. None of these things get decided in a minute. They all get decided on the basis of having a good team of people, and thinking through the problems and trying to design solutions. And that’s, but that’s not the way we’re going to do it in the 21st Century.

HH: On the other hand, Donald Trump helps build audience. There were 24 million people watching that. And I’m a fan of the Donald being on the show. He’s been on three times. He’s a great interview. He also creates controversy. Here’s what Hillary Clinton said about him today, Governor Kasich, cut number three.

HRC: It’s entertainment. I mean, look, it’s all entertainment. You know, I think he’s having the time of his life, you know, being up on that stage, saying whatever he wants to say, getting people excited both for and against him. I didn’t know him that well. I mean, I knew him. I knew him and I happened to be planning to be in Florida, and I thought it would be fun to go to his wedding, because it’s always entertaining. Now that he’s running for president, it’s a little more troubling.

HH: Are you, if he’s the nominee, John…

JK: Well, that sounded to me to be pretty entertaining.

HH: That was.

JK: (laughing)

HH: It was. So if Donald is the nominee, would you support him?

JK: I’ll support whatever Republican we pick.

HH: That’s…

JK: But I’ve got a good feeling that I might get picked. You know, I’m running basically even with George Bush in New Hampshire now, and I’m sorry, with Jeb Bush in New Hampshire now, and I’m holding my own here. I’m in second or third place, and you know, I mean, I’m not worried about anybody else. I’m worried about getting my message out as, Hugh, the chairman of the Budget Committee, the chief architect of the balanced budget in Washington, where we cut taxes on risk taking, paid down debt and had a good economy, my experience on the Armed Services Committee, 18 years, and as governor of Ohio, going from $8 billion in the hole to $2 billion in the black, cutting taxes by $5 billion, the largest of any sitting governor, up 350,000 jobs and no longer ignoring people who live in the shadows. So that’s what I need to talk about.

HH: Now my friend, Jake Tapper, says, we were talking about the debate on Sunday because we’re working together, we can’t let candidates tell their talking points. I, on the other hand, believe in allowing candidates to tell their story. And I think that’s actually very important.

JK: Yeah, I mean, well, let’s, that’s right. I mean, look, now more than ever, it shouldn’t be tell me. It should be show me. We went through tell me, and it hasn’t worked very well in the last six years. So why don’t we go with show me? What have you done? How can I trust what you say? What is your experience? What is your record? I mean, I don’t know what, when you guys say I don’t want them to go through their talking points, I don’t even know what that means. What does that mean?

HH: Well, to me, I want you to be able to tell your story. That’s why I have you on for 15 and 20 minute segments and I play you clips.

JK: Right.

HH: But for Hillary Clinton, it means attacking. She attacked one of your colleagues today, Marco Rubio. I want to play this for you and get your reaction, because I think Republicans have to stand with each other with Hillary, even as they make their cases. Here’s what Hillary had to say today about Marco Rubio.

HRC: All these women that I have fought for, worked for, stood up for, advocated for, and want to be a president for, who may not have the opportunity to defend themselves, who may lose the right to exercise a personal choice if certain of the Republicans were to be successful, I don’t want that forgotten. So yes, I know it makes great TV. I think the guy went way overboard, offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective. But what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage, and it is deeply troubling, and it should be to the press, not just to those of us who have been doing this work for so long.

HH: Now John Kasich, I don’t think you and Marco Rubio have any difference when it comes to life policy, and she is an abortion rights absolutist. How big of an issue is this?

JK: Well, I don’t really know what all with Marco, look, Marco did a great job in the debate. He’s terrific. He’s a fresh face. And I’ve been pro-life with the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. And I think Marco did a great job, and I mean, I don’t know why she’s attacking all these people. She ought to be telling people what she’s for, and that’s what I try to do. And frankly, if she’s going to keep being in the negative side, then that’s going to be the window by which we’re going to beat her.

HH: Let’s talk about Hillary for a moment. On Sunday, the New York Times ran a story that I talked about on Meet the Press before you came on. She destroyed 31,000 emails on her server. She said they were private, no one else looked them. Her email server, Scott Walker said in the course of the debate Thursday night, probably was compromised by the Russians, by the Chinese, by the Iranians. How cavalier is she about our security?

JK: Hugh, there’s going to be plenty of time to talk about Hillary. Can we just, can I just talk about me and my record, and what I want to do, please?

HH: Well, I want…

JK: It was wrong. And it’ll come back later. But you know, I’m just not into trashing people right now. I’d rather talk about what I’m for. Of course, I don’t think you should have a private server and do all that stuff, or what’s happened with the Clinton Foundation. But we’ll get to that later. That’s something I’ll worry about later when we get, you know, far down the road, because right now, I want people to know what I’m for and who I am.

HH: Well, I understand that, but I also believe that Republican primary voters want to make sure that they select someone who’s going to be combative enough vis-à-vis the Hillary Clinton machine, because it’s a big machine, John Kasich. You know that.

JK: Hugh, let me tell you. I defeated an incumbent when I was 26 years old for the state senate. He was a household word, and nobody knew who I was. In 1982, I ran with Ronald Reagan, and I was the only Republican in America to defeat an incumbent Democrat in 1982 running on the Reagan agenda. I defeated an incumbent Democrat for governor. It was the first incumbent to lose in 36 years. Okay, I don’t think I need to prove to anybody that you know, that I know how to get out there amongst them. And with my reelection over in Ohio, I had the second-largest electoral victory in modern history. And by the way, I received the votes of 51% of union households, 60% of women, and 26% of African-Americans. Now I believe that people are going to vote, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, for somebody that has big ideas and a record and a vision, and an ability to unite this country and lift this country, and restore the miracle known as America. So that’s what I have to tell you about it. And it’s already starting, and we’re not even on the stage, yet.

HH: I know, but that’s the first part. That’s what I’m talking about, the ability to bring it to people. Second thing I want to ask you about is Youngstown. Now I’m from Warren, but you took over the Youngstown schools. A lot of Americans are worried about their schools. They’re worried about the rollout of Common Core, they’re worried about security, they’re worried about a lot of things. What are you doing in Youngstown, and how are you going to fix it?

JK: Well, what they ought to be worried about is how our kids are doing in school and what they’re learning, and what they’re achieving, and are they being educated for jobs that exist in the 21st Century. Now the Youngstown schools have been failing for nine straight years. And I warned the people over there in Youngstown that we needed to fix their schools, just like we had done on a bipartisan basis, community basis, to fix the Cleveland public schools, where we have basically a CEO who’s driving improvement in education. It’s a long road back, a lot of challenges, but Eric Gordon’s doing a great job. Now over in Youngstown, we got the community together, we got the Catholic bishops, we got Jim Tressel Remember the former football coach of Ohio State who is president of Youngstown State, the president of the chamber?

HH: Yup.

JK: And what we’ve done is pass legislation to allow a group to select somebody who’s essentially going to serve as the CEO, to get things straightened out, so we don’t abandon the children in that town, and to get them in a position to where they can have all of their authority back once we get the place fixed. And I actually believe, and I believe you believe this, Hugh. With the economic growth we’re now seeing in Youngstown, coupled with a fixing of the Youngstown schools, Youngstown’s best days are ahead of it.

HH: I do believe that. Let me close by asking about the African-American community. We had another shooting in Ferguson, we’ve had unrest.

JK: Yeah.

HH: You won 26% of the black household vote in Ohio. I mean, you won Trumbull and Mahoning County. No one’s done that in my lifetime. The question is, pollsters always tell us that voters say who thinks the most like me, who can understand me. How does John Kasich persuade the African-American vote, which is traditionally hostile to Republicans, that he actually cares about and will do work on their behalf with the background of Ferguson and of the other racial incidents that have dotted the last five years?

JK: Okay, well quickly, this doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen on just one thing, although we have created a policing community collaborative that’s now going, writing the rules on the use of deadly force, recruiting and hiring practices, and now with an effort to integrate police and community so that police understand the concerns of the community, and the community understands that that policeman has a family that’s at home waiting for their father or their mother to be able to come home safely. Everybody’s got to understand each other’s challenges and concerns. Secondly, you know, we’ve improved some of the urban school districts and worked very hard. We have decided that we’re going to enforce Ohio law so that when 85% of state contracts go to the white folks, that it’s proper for 15% to go to our minorities so we can built entrepreneurship. We have just banned the box, which means if you had committed a felony, we’re going to find out what you did later in the interview process, but we’re not going to automatically disqualify you if you seek employment in the state of Ohio. We’ve had criminal justice reform so that we have empowered judges to be able to use common sense in terms of the future of people who committed crimes. We have a low recidivism rate in Ohio, because we give people a chance to work their way out and be returned to society with some basic skills that can get them work. I mean, the lists goes on and on, Hugh, and these are just common sense things that we ought to be doing, because everyone is made in the image of the Lord, and everybody deserves a chance.

HH: John Kasich, always a pleasure, and congratulations on this Bloomberg poll. You’re in third place, tied basically with Jeb Bush, a few points behind Donald Trump. So I understand why you’re in New Hampshire. Congratulations, I look forward to talking you again soon.

JK: I’ll see you soon. Thank you.

End of interview.


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