Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me today to talk about Pope Francis and much more:
HH: I’m joined by Governor John Kasich of the great state of Ohio, who I last saw from four feet across a desk on Wednesday last in Simi Valley. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JK: Hey, Hugh, I don’t know who got less time – you or me.
HH: (laughing) I did. You know, but I gave you…
JK: (laughing) I don’t know. It would be a battle for, like, zero.
HH: Yeah, if that’s the case, given how well you’ve done in the polls after this, you should want less time next time. You had a great debate.
HH: And I gave you one of your hardballs about not going after Hillary, and you turned it into landing a plane. Congratulations.
JK: Yeah, well, I’m starting to get tired of Hillary attacking me all the time, so at some point, I’m going to have to start talking a little bit about her. If you live in a glass house and you start attacking people, you know, it gets old after a while.
HH: Well, I’ll wait. Call me when you want, and we’ll clear the deck. Let’s start by talking about the Pope. You’ve been in the House of Representatives many times when big picture people have talked. The Pope went in today. Your friend, John Boehner, had some tears in his eyes. Joe Biden had some tears in his eyes. The Pope talked about Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s the Four Figures Speech. What did you make of the Pope and of his visit thus far, Governor Kasich?
JK: Oh, hey, Hugh, I love the Pope. And I watched, I didn’t see all of it, but I saw a big chunk of him. And look, here’s why I love the Pope. He’s throwing open the doors of the Church. He’s saying to people that the Lord Almighty is a God of grace, and a God of love, and a God of human potential. And he says that, which is all the things I believe so strongly in, and he says that what we do on this Earth today will be measured against us tomorrow. And it’s all about human potential. It’s all about living a life greater than ourselves. And look, you see the throngs, the people? Why? Because he represents hope. He represents holiness. He represents good things. And I just think he’s just fantastic. I mean, he drives around in that little Pope mobile. He has very little security. He said that the Lord put him there, and the Lord will protect him. He lives in a little apartment there in Vatican City. I mean, he walks the walk, talks the talk. And you know, I just think he’s terrific.
HH: I agree with you. I said at the debate you’re running an up with people campaign, and that was an up with people and the Pope campaign answer, but it’s genuine. Everybody genuinely likes him. I refuse to politicize this, because he’s not political.
JK: Look, I think, I think, let me tell you some of my interpretations. First of all, St. Francis of Assisi, and Francis Schaeffer, I don’t know if you know Francis Schaeffer.
HH: Oh, you bet.
JK: He was one of the great theologians of the 20th Century. Both of them have talked about the need for us to protect God’s creation. We’re not to worship it. We’re not to do, you know, do extreme things. But we have to be aware of it, okay? I mean, that’s what I get out of what he says. And I think that’s appropriate. Secondly, what else does he talk about? He talks about blatant materialism, that you know, we should not be about collecting things, and that doesn’t mean you can’t have fine art or great music or whatever. But you can’t worship things. You’ve got to worship the Lord. And you know, when he talks about capitalism, and I think he’s kind of moved off of that, you know, the one thing, if I ever had a chance to have a long dinner with him or something, I would say look, capitalism has rescued more people from poverty than any system known to man. But I think what he’s driving at, and I don’t want to put words in his mouth, and neither should the press. You know, a free enterprise system has to be underlaid with a set of values. Michael Novak wrote that. You know Michael Novak, Hugh.
HH: You bet, greatest…
JK: He’s one of the great Catholic theologians. He’s received the Templeton Prize. I love that. And when he talks about everybody being made in the image of God, I tell you, I was, you know, I was on a treadmill watching this thing, and I just found my, just joy creeping up in my body as I looked at those people that stood on the Mall, and they just wanted to see him. And the children, you know, the way that the children have been, he’s talked about the children. And the way he’s talked about the family, you know, and how he said God bless America, like have dreams. It’s great.
HH: It is great. It is…
JK: As you can see, I’m very pumped up about this. I am really excited about this.
HH: They ought to find a chair for you in Philadelphia. I’m going to call Archbishop Chaput and say bring Governor Kasich in, because he’s going to talk at Independence Hall, and I think that’s going to be very special. Governor, I’ve got to do a make good. I’ve got to do a make good. On the night before the debate, I was driving from Stanford down to Simi Valley, and I may have been a touch over the speed limit. And one of the California Highway Patrol’s finest officers pulled me over to discuss with me the value of the speed limit. And he asked me where I was going, and I said well, I’m going down to the debate, and I said, I played the debate card, and I’m asking questions, I’m kind of in a hurry. And he said are you? He said okay, look, I’ll let you go, and just don’t drive so fast. And by the way, would you ask those guys if they support law enforcement? Will they be supporting law enforcement? And so to Officer Brian and the CHP, I’m making good. John Kasich, law enforcement’s getting a lot of hassles right now from a lot of different perspectives.
JK: Yeah, yeah, it’s getting out of whack. And look, we know in our communities, no matter who we are, if we don’t show the respect to law enforcement, then we’re going to have enormous troubles. And we see what’s happened post-Baltimore. I haven’t seen the numbers lately. And look, you know, in our state, we have collaborated with police and community. We want to make sure that people in the community understand that a police officer has to go home to his or her family. And you know, obviously, police are doing their job to be concerned about the problems that we have in communities. I think it’s balanced, but we cannot lose respect for our law enforcement officers. They put their lives on the line, and we need to honor them.
HH: Does the President need to say that more often, because he’s been less than vocal about this. There’s a conflict here with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is important and I understand what they’re about. But law enforcement runs into bad guys every day, and they don’t need, as the term is, they don’t need people fronting them every day and getting aggressive with them.
JK: No, and out here, we’ve had our challenges, as you know, in Ohio, with some of our difficulties here. We had, I mean, a terrible tragedy where a campus police officer shot and unarmed man in the head and killed him. He’s now going to face murder charges. And police know when they need to be more vigilant. Out here, we’ve issued, there’s now two recommendations going out. One of them is a statewide use of deadly force, what it means and all the agencies are aware of it, and the need to be able to show the recruiting and the hiring practices throughout the state of Ohio. We’re a big state, eleven and a half million people. But we cannot lose respect for our law enforcement officers. We need them.
HH: All right, now let me ask you about the Time Magazine story. Zeke Miller will be joining me a little bit later. It’s a great story.
JK: I didn’t know there was a Time Magazine story talking…
HH: Yeah, there is.
JK: Yeah, but what is…
HH: Well, it says that your temperament is going to help you, that rival candidates say it’s going to be a hindrance, but that it’s actually going to help you, because you’re kind of the straight talk express come back. I always tell people you get prickly with me, because you have Ohio rights and you can do that. But I don’t find you to be temperamental at all. What’s your reaction, generally, to temperament stories? Donald Trump hates them, because he doesn’t think it’s fair to characterize temperament stories.
JK: Well, I don’t pay a lot of attention to them, because most of the people who write stories don’t know me at all. But you know, I think what’s been fun is I’ve loved this campaign. I’ve had a great time out there. People know it. I’m excited. I’m happy about what’s going on. But you know, Hugh, over the years, when I balanced budgets and reformed defense and do the things I needed to do to improve Ohio, you’re going to step on some toes, and then they get a chance to take a whack at you. That’s just part of it all. It’s nothing that bothers me. But I didn’t know I had a big story in Time Magazine. I’ll have to pay attention to it.
HH: In fact, let me go back to that story. It quotes you as saying I have landed a lot of planes, and the passengers in the back are usually pretty happy. I don’t know if you had that line before you stood in front of Air Force One, but it sure worked on the debate stage about what you were concerned about at the time. That was like one of the takeaway lines. Have you started using that in every speech?
JK: Well, I just, I make up my own lines. Nobody writes them for me. But I think it kind of illustrates the fact that while we see a lot of outsiders who have very little experience in terms of how government works, I think it’s important for me to show them that I’ve accomplished things. That gives me the credibility to talk about what I’m going to do to balance budgets and reduce regulation, and ship power and money and influence out of Washington. And by the way, we’ll have some policy things we’ll be rolling out here in the course of the next few weeks that will be a little bit more specific. But you know, I think it illustrates it well. And what I say is I’ve landed a lot of planes. Passengers have been happy. And I even, I’ve not even had to serve drinks.
HH: All right.
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HH: Let me turn then to some policy issues. Defense – the Time Magazine piece talks about, and you’ve been on this show a few times talking about, you know, you went after the B-2, but you want to lift the caps on the sequester, and that we will have the ships we need…
HH: …and the arms and the Marines that we need. But I want you to go back over that again, because it seems to me that some of your rivals are trying to paint you as a small defense budget guy.
JK: Well look, I think that, Hugh, that no matter where you look, if there’s waste in welfare or waste in the Pentagon, you’ve got to clean it up. And there isn’t anybody who’s worked in that building who doesn’t know that it needs to be dramatically reformed. But look, when I limited the production of the B-2, I wasn’t for taking the money out of Defense. I was for applying it to stand-off weapons so that we would have great accuracy without putting pilots at risk, which of course we’re now seeing as sort of the flavor of the day. I don’t think there is any substitute for a strong Defense. I have said it over and over again. But look, it’s so great that these people who are out there running are starting to attack me, because that means they’re getting more and more nervous. We have to do what we need to do to make sure that we have a Defense system that is second to none. It is absolutely critical. And it’s absolutely critical that we can apply it in a way in which we can have effective international strategies. By the way, I am the only person who has had the 18 years of Defense experience while also being the CEO of a major state. So in the 18 years I served on Defense, you know who I worked with? I worked with Sam Nunn and John Tower and John Stennis and Barry Goldwater. I was involved in the Goldwater-Nichols reform bill to get the services to work together. I worked directly with Bill Nichols. I was on the conference committee with Sam Nunn and with Barry Goldwater. Now I don’t know how you could do better than that. I’m a big believer in Special Forces. I’m a big believer in technology. I’m a big believer in taking people from the private sector and helping them to help us solve problems. And by the way, Hugh, something no one knows, do you know that after 9/11, Secretary Rumsfeld invited me to the Pentagon with the former secretaries of Defense in post-9/11 to discuss what was happening. I then led a group of experts from the Silicon Valley into the Pentagon over a period of years to help the Pentagon get up to speed on the technology they needed to keep our country safe.
HH: I didn’t know that. That’s very interesting.
JK: No, most people don’t.
HH: Let me stay on commander-in-chief.
HH: I want to say on commander-in-chief stuff. If, for example, you’re sitting in the Oval Office, Pakistan has got 90 nuclear weapons. And they’ve got Taliban, and they’ve got extremists. If that country starts to get crazy, what do you, as commander-in-chief, do about those nukes?
JK: Well, you know, we have the relationship with the Pakistan military. We know more about their arsenal than, you know, I believe, than what you can read in the regular press. Look, Hugh, I mean, the issue there gets to be about the spread of these things in the hands of a non-state actor. That’s what I worry about, not only in regard to Pakistan, but the potential of Iran having a nuclear weapon, where a non-state actor gets it. Then, the issue of deterrence, because you know, if the North Koreans, as crazy as they seem, ever use one of those weapons against the South or against anybody else, they will not exist on the face of the Earth. Nuclear deterrence does work, but it doesn’t work with people who are the non-state actors. And that’s what we have to keep an eye on.
HH: All right, now Governor, I want to switch to something else. I was at the Rockies game last night. They were playing the Pirates, and the Pirates were doing pretty well. I think you’re a Pirates fan.
JK: You’re right. I am.
HH: And I got approached by an oil and gas man who asked me when I came across candidates to ask them this. Dodd-Frank, people don’t know this, is killing a lot of oil and gas exploration because of collateralization requirements and the inability of banks to measure value. They’re killing lending. Have you run into this? And what you think about Dodd-Frank? We’re in the deep weeds now, but you’re coming up to a CNBC debate, so…
JK: No, no, no. I’m going to be very clear about, you know, the 30,000 [feet] look at Dodd-Frank. What it’s doing is that it has swung the pendulum so far that big banks are getting bigger, and that we’re wiping out the midsized and the community banks, which are the lifeblood of our communities. They are also the institutions that know you. So if you’re a small business person, that’s, those are the people that know your name. Those are the people that can really help you to be successful. What we need to do is, Dodd-Frank needs either repealed or greatly reformed. And what has to happen is the big banks have to have reserve requirements for the risk that they take on, so that if in fact they take on risk that doesn’t work out, their reserves will cover that risk and not the taxpayers. Secondly, our regulators, instead of just going to these places and not doing anything when they see a problem, need to step up. And they not only need to bark, but they need to bite. But we don’t need them falling all over the place being extreme in the way they look at these loans, these opportunities that are out there. And then in addition, you know, what happened last time is we shouldn’t have government agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who are telling people to own things that they can’t afford. There’s a number of things that have to be done in this area, but you cannot continue to strangle these banks with overregulation, because it affects all the industries, not just oil and gas, all the industries that are out there.
HH: All right, last question is political.
JK: And Hugh, it is an extreme measure. It either has to be fundamentally changed or repealed.
HH: All right. The last question is political. I was really shocked when Scott Walker dropped out. He had a lot of talented people. Jim Talent was on his team, Robert O’Brien. He had the best national security aid I’ve come across. Mike Gallagher is a captain in the Marine Corps, retired, who gave him, always briefed him on Defense. Does Walker leaving help John Kasich? And were you surprised that the Governor exited when he did?
JK: Well, you know, I am the only Midwest candidate left. In terms of, I don’t like to think about, you know, somebody went down. I like Scott. I’ve tried to call him. I respect him. And I made it clear to our people. We’re not just going to start calling around the minute his body was, you know, the minute he left. And you know, and he was there damaged at that moment in time. I said no, there’s just limits to what I’m willing to do. I mean, can everybody just take a breath and at least let 24 hours go by? And I felt that way about Rick Perry. Scott Walker will be back. He’s got, you know, he’s 47 years old. He’s very, very young. He’s going to get, he’s only going to be better and better and better. And don’t be surprised if the day comes when he runs for president. And I think he’s a heck of a guy, and I’m a little saddened for him. You know, Hugh, life is short. Didn’t we learn that from the Pope? Life is short. Don’t be gleeful or think how great it is that somebody else had some misfortune. This’ll all work out, and I hope it works out in the right way. Finally, finally, Hugh, Ronald Reagan told me in the Oval Office that Bobby Rahal, who won the Indianapolis 500, who I took in, that Ronald Reagan was speeding on the California highway. A California trooper pulled him over, looked at him, and said sir, who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield? Now Barney Oldfield was a guy that ran, won many Indianapolis 500 events. And Ronald Reagan looked at the trooper. He said no, sir, I not Barney Oldfield. But if you’d like to meet him, he’s sitting right next to me.
JK: I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you.
HH: Oh, got to go, too. Thank you, Governor. I’ve got to go to break. Thank you, Governor John Kasich of Ohio. He’s in a good mood. The Pope made him in a good mood, I think.
End of interview.