Ohio Governor John Kasich began Friday’s show with me:
HH: I begin today with a guest who has confounded the Wall Street Journal. Peggy Noonan writing about my guest, praising him for “being alive and responsive to actual crises in American society,” for having “an unembarrassed heart,” and at the same time, the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel today called his policies a “bastardized version of compassionate conservatism,” saying he’s a “happy-in-life-and-God conservative” that “makes him seem optimistic.” She also said that John Kasich is not of the Jack Kemp and Paul Ryan school of opportunity conservative, which surprised me. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JK: Hi, Hugh, I mean, they’re all still trying to figure out who I am, aren’t they?
HH: Well, they are. I always kind of figured you for a Jack Kemp-Paul Ryan conservative.
JK: Well, I am. I’ve been a pro-growth guy. Look, we cut, we balanced budgets and we cut taxes, and we deregulate. And Hugh, we’ve had great success in Ohio. And remember, back when I was chairman of the Budget Committee in Washington, we not only balanced the budget, but we cut the capital gains tax, and we had phenomenal economic growth. And here in Ohio, I’ve had the largest amount of tax cuts among any sitting governor in the country. And as you know, we’ve had a significant growth in the state of Ohio while we balanced budgets. So I don’t quite know, I didn’t read the column, but I don’t quite know what the problem is, but I think even, you know, frankly, I’m going to be on a radio show tomorrow with Larry Kudlow, who says I’m the only guy who’s promoting growth among the people running for president. So just to be clear…
HH: Just to be clear…
JK: I admire Jack. I worked with Jack. I follow a lot of those principles – less spending and lower taxes.
HH: Now at the same time, you’ve confused people, because the National Abortion Rights Action League has attacked you as a pro-life extremist, and yet some pro-lifers have said this week that because you noted that SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United State has ruled, that you’re not pro-life enough. You’re as pro-life as anyone in this field, aren’t you, John Kasich?
JK: Well, yeah, I mean, Hugh, I’ve been pro-life my entire political career. You know, and we have done a number of things. In fact, some people in Ohio have called me the most pro-life governor who’s ever held this job. In fact, you know, some of those people with the abortion rights folks actually have protested me, and you know, all those kinds of things. So no, I’ve been pro-life from the time I was a state senator to a Congressman for 18 years, and we’ve enacted a number of provisions here in Ohio, including banning late term abortions and making sure that these clinics have hospital transfer agreements, which have shut some of them down. And I mean, there’s just a whole variety of things that we have done. So nobody should be confused about where I am on the matter of life. It’s a very important issue, it’s a critical issue, and frankly, you know, the fact that we had both sides arguing about who I am, maybe that’s actually a pretty good thing, Hugh. I don’t know.
HH: I also went and checked, because judicial appointments matter a lot, who you had appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court. You appointed Justice Judith French, an Ohio State University Law School grad, undergrad as well, big firm experience, a lot of judicial experience, not from the Harvard-Yale mafia. I asked Chris Christie yesterday, since eight of our Supreme Court justices either went to Harvard or Yale, and the other one started at Harvard and ended at Columbia, if he would please commit to not making another Supreme Court appointment from Harvard or Yale Law School. People laughed at me, but I like diversity from the rest of the country, John Kasich. You can find good originalist judges from other than Harvard and Yale Law school.
JK: Well, and there’s no question, and yeah, I did appoint an Ohio Supreme Court justice. We do it very carefully. We want to make sure that they use the old Reagan term of judicial restraint. We don’t want them making laws. We want them just interpreting laws. And we want conservatives, people who will exercise judicial restraint. And Hugh, I’ve actually appointed about a hundred judges throughout my term of office, and we’ve met with, I think, very good success. So we look at their records. We want to make sure that they’re not going to be liberals on the bench, where they’re going to be trying to make laws. And the appointment to the Ohio Supreme Court, Judi French, graduate of Ohio State. And by the way, I told somebody the other day that you know, I’m sure that some of those people at Harvard were disappointed that they couldn’t get into Ohio State.
HH: That’s true. Now let me talk to you about a much bigger issue, and this began with Roger Cohen in the New York Times earlier this week when he wrote about ISIS and why people are joining it. And he made the argument that the victory of freedom in 1989 over the Soviet Union unleashed so much freedom that these radical Islamist youth can’t handle it, that freedom is driving them to join this reactionary, violent schism, whether it’s Shiia extremism or Sunni extremism. If you’re president of the United States, John Kasich, how do you fight what is a volcano of extremism?
JK: Well, I think, Hugh, what we find is when people in the West, Western civilization, including our country, think that they can find joy and satisfaction by just chasing happiness or celebrating whatever I want to do, I ought to be able to do. What it does is it leaves a void. And people generally find out that they’re not very happy by doing that. In order to be happy, one must sense, have a sense that life is more important than themselves, they are here for a bigger purpose, they’re here to bring justice and healing. I talked about this at the soapbox in Iowa. And I’m going to continue to talk about it. Now ISIS, of course, lying, murdering, raping organization, preaches that well, you know, we’ll give you satisfaction. You’ll have friends, and you’ll have a family here, and that’s the ticket to paradise. Of course, it’s nothing but a big bunch of lies and horrific activities. But here in the West, we’d better begin to understand that we need again to talk about the fact that we are our brother’s keeper, that we are in a position where we have to care about our neighbors, and that the pursuit of doing something bigger than yourself and being involved in what some would consider small ways brings great satisfaction and then happiness to your life. And that’s something we’ve got to pay attention to.
HH: Now you’ve shot up in the New Hampshire polls, and you picked up a number of very important endorsements in the Granite State in the last couple of weeks. Who’s coming to the Kasich town hall? Who’s signing onto the Kasich effort?
JK: Well, it’s been pretty interesting. I mean, I think it’s pretty well across the board. As you know, John Sununu, the former Senator, brilliant guy, he is my, the head guy up there for me. Tom Rath, the former attorney general, who had been involved in so many campaigns up in New Hampshire, signed on. We just got a state senator today. We have the former House speaker and his wife. It’s kind of all kinds of folks, and one of the most exciting ones is a lady who used to live, Karen Cervantes, she used to live in Westerville, my hometown. She moved to New Hampshire, and she’s organizing like crazy. And she’s a housewife who just loves her country. And Hugh, we’re getting good crowds, too, you know, really good crowds, and it’s exciting. And I’m having an absolute ball. I just, we’ve been in Alabama, by the way, where I got the governor of Alabama to endorse me, and had a great trip to South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, and then next week, I’m out in Cali where you are. I’m going to be out in Cali. It’s what my daughters call it, Cali.
HH: I hope you’ll come by the studio. I’ll be in Colorado, but you can still come by the studio. I want to go back, then, to something we talked about the last time you were on. I asked you about Hillary, and you said I don’t want to attack Hillary. But boy, this server is bad, Governor Kasich. This is…
JK: Yeah, it, no, it is. It is. Look, we’re going to get to all that stuff, Hugh, if in fact she’s the nominee. We’re going to talk about the Foundation. We’re going to talk about the server. We’re going to talk about the fact that she just seems to go out and promise everything to small groups of people. She doesn’t care how you pay for it. She doesn’t care about the size of government. She’s so hungry to try to win this thing, she’ll say anything to anybody. But I need to spend my time getting people to understand who I am and what I’ve done. So we’ve got one lady in the Wall Street Journal saying you know, questioning who I am. And then you’ve got Peggy Noonan writing great stuff. You know, we’ve got all these people saying who is this guy, so I’ve got to spend more of my time doing it, Hugh. But remember, I beat a Democrat for the state senate, I was the only Republican to win in 1982 against an incumbent Democrat in America. I beat an incumbent Democrat here in the state, the first time an incumbent lost in 36 years. I got reelected against a Democrat with the second-largest electoral win in modern Ohio history, political history. So I know how to do it, Hugh, but right now, now’s the time to paint a picture of what we want the miracle of America to be.
HH: Well, the last question, right now, people are also wondering who could be a commander-in-chief in very dangerous times. How confident are you on that score, John Kasich?
JK: Well, as you know, I think, Hugh, I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years. I do have a group of people who are very experienced who I meet with. They don’t teach me. I spent 18 years down there in Congress learning all these issues, these important national security issues. I was a military reformer, but a strong supporter of the military. And you know, I think one of the times that I was on here, you asked me how many carrier groups. We’ll we’ve got 10, and I’d like to have a goal of 15, and we need to rebuild the military. But I think you know, Hugh, when you have almost 900,000 people who are involved in running the Pentagon without any direct line responsibility, you’re going to waste a lot of money. So we’ve got to reform it while we rebuild the military, and the sequester doesn’t matter to me. America’s got to have the strongest military we can possibly have, and we can do that – mobile, lethal, and in America’s national interest.
HH: Governor John Kasich, you might confuse those Wall Street Journal columnists, but you don’t confuse my audience. Thanks for joining us.
End of interview.