Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me on the program today:
HH: From Donald Trump, I go to Ohio Governor John Kasich. They are, in fact, one and two in the latest New Hampshire polling. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JK: I always enjoy doing your show, Hugh. You know, I really do. I always like it. I think you ask tough questions, and you’re very fair. And I appreciate it.
HH: Well, thank you. I was just talking, I was just talking with Donald Trump about religion in America. And I know your religious beliefs because of your book, Every Other Monday, that they’re sincere and deep. But here in Denver, I’m at Colorado Christian University today, the city council just voted to put on hold a Chick-Fil-A franchise at the Denver International Airport because of the religious beliefs of the people who own that restaurant chain. Now John Kasich, what is going on in this country? We’re built on religious liberty.
JK: Well, that’s really, that’s ridiculous, okay? All right, are you kidding? Well, you know, I mean…
HH: No, I’m not.
JK: I don’t understand it. I don’t, I don’t understand why they would do that. That’s just, that just doesn’t make any sense in the world to me. You know, we, we’re going through a lot of ups and downs on a lot of these issues, social issues. And frankly, to see a decision like that is very, very disheartening. It’s very disheartening. And you don’t want to do that, tell them they can’t have a, they can’t put a Chick-Fil-A in, why, because they’re people of faith? That’s just wrong.
JK: It’s just wrong.
HH: It is just wrong, but it’s everywhere, and religious liberty seems to me to be under a continual assault in the United States, and it doesn’t come up much in the debates, because it’s kind of a complicated subject to talk about. And people want to make you into something you’re not. But it’s just, to let people believe what they want to believe and worship as they see fit…
JK: Well, here’s the thing. I mean, we’ve moved from, look, what the founders wanted, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, is they wanted a separation of church and state for this reason. They didn’t want the state to be using taxpayer funding to support a church. They wanted it to be independent. But they did not want the people of faith or the institutions of faith to be removed from the public square. And let’s talk about this in a way that I have been talking about it, and I think we’ve talked about it last week, Hugh, on the issue of meaning and life, and living a life bigger than yourself. And I’m not saying that the only people that would believe that living a life bigger than yourself and being a center of justice and healing are only people of faith. You can be a terrific humanist, and you can devote yourself to that. But let’s also recognize the fact that the essence of faith is about living a life bigger than yourself. The essence of faith is about the dues in life, about humility, your brother’s keeper, you know, the neighbor down the street. I mean, it is about being a center of justice in healing. And that gives you a great motivation to do so many good things. And you know, I just hate to hear of a decision like that, but the bottom line is you can’t strip religion from a free society, because it’s consistent with a free society.
HH: I just asked Donald Trump about his religious beliefs, and whether or not the Gospels play a role in shaping public policy. And he said maybe deep down, they do for him. You know, he’s not a very publically-religious person. What do you think is that role in John Kasich’s approach to governing, because you have frequently cited Scripture in some of your approaches to things.
JK: Well, I don’t read the Bible to figure out whether I’m going to sign a piece of legislation or not, but what I will tell you is that, you know, it’s pretty clear in both the Old and the New Testament that how we treat the widowed, how we treat the poor, how we treat the people that live outside of the circles, that it’s important how we treat them. And I think that’s really, really important. But the other thing that religion does for me is it gives me space from the maddening crowd. You know, what I mean by that is look, I’m going to do the best I can. I recognize that life is short. And someday, I will be asked about what I did with what I received. And it gives me a perspective, which gives me freedom. And I also know, Hugh, that you know, there’s a very famous Scriptural deal having to do with the foundation on which your life, on which your house is built, which is your life. And look, I’ve seen tragedy. I’ve seen real tragedy in my own life. And I’ve come to believe that the stronger that foundation is, to believe that a Creator is ultimately in control, that all things, even when it seems impossible, all things can work together for the good for those that have faith in God, that doesn’t mean that our life is easy. It does not mean that when these tragedies come, they are not gut-wrenching and leveling. But I think it does mean that there is a, there’s something where you can begin to see a light, where you can begin to understand that the sun will come up again. God bless you for talking about this.
HH: And on that point…
JK: You know, we don’t, look, I’m a candidate for president, but I don’t want anybody to be confused that somehow I’m deciding how I’m going to vote, or how I’m going to sign or whatever, that I’m going to, you know, look up the Gospel of John, you know, to figure that out.
HH: Of course not. I’ll be right back with John Kasich, America.
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HH: Governor, today we had this terrible assassination of a TV reporter and her cameraman by a disgruntled employee who turned the gun on himself. Hillary Clinton immediately took to Twitter, called for gun control. You know, do you think gun control has anything to do with stopping things like this?
JK: No, I don’t. And frankly, you know, I don’t know the history of the shooter, but I think we all can agree that it is very important that we keep guns out of the hands of those who are mentally disturbed. And if there’s anything we need to work on, it’s we need to make sure that we have a database that can be accessed that can reflect the problem that a person would have. But look, people want to have firearms for a variety of reasons. It is the 2nd Amendment. And at the end of the day, this wouldn’t have been stopped because we had gun control. You know, it just doesn’t work that way. And there are a lot of people that feel that they want to have their firearms, it represents freedom for them, and it also represents protection for them. So you know, I’m a strong 2nd Amendment advocate, because it makes sense to be that. And I think obviously…
HH: I always ask in the aftermath of these things, I don’t like to talk about the shooter or their name. I don’t want to give them or their particular grievances, I don’t like to give them any attention at all, and instead stay focused on the victims, and in this case, the WDVJ reporter and the cameraman, Alison Parker and Adam Ward. What do you think about the policy of just not giving them what they want, which is attention via the media?
JK: You know, I was just at a meeting today, and somebody was pointing out that we used to have a lot of people who jump off, believe it or not, the Golden Gate Bridge. And there would be reporting of it. And they came to figure out, or they began to conclude that when there was a lot of publicity, it inspired other people to go and jump as well. You know, it was like a kind of a copycat. I understand that Twitter took the video down that the shooter had shot. You know, Hugh, we know what responsible is, don’t we?
JK: We know the difference, and we’re kind of back to religion, right? I mean, here’s what I mean by that. You know, in the media, people want eyeballs. They want viewers. They want ratings. But you know, that has to be measured against our purpose here. And if all our purpose is, is to have ratings and promote ourselves, we’re going to be bankrupt, and as a business or as a person. So look, the judgment you use, look, you’re a great guy. So you’re not going to take advantage of this to get more people to listen to your show, and it’s just, we’ve got to handle this responsibly. And I’m beginning to hear conversations…
HH: I’m talking about…
JK: …like that, Hugh. Do you agree? I mean, you’re beginning to hear it, right?
HH: I agree. That’s been my policy for years, and I didn’t like it when the Virginia Tech shooter’s manifesto was aired on television networks. I just don’t believe in giving them that, because I think it does encourage copycats. Let me go to the sensitive issue of immigration. I’m sure you, maybe you didn’t. Did you watch the Donald Trump-Jorge Ramos exchange, Governor Kasich?
JK: No, no, I’ve been too busy out here telling people about who I am.
HH: Okay, well, it’s immigration is now part of the national conversation.
HH: I didn’t think it was going to dominate this election this way. What’s John Kasich think about the humane and sensible, rational way forward? I’m a big fence guy. I’ve been a fence guy for a decade. If we built the fence…
JK: Oh, I’m a fence guy.
JK: And you know, look, I was there when Reagan proposed the amnesty in ’86. And the problem was we didn’t put the fence up, and we weren’t serious about it. I mean, we just, I guess kind of thought the problem would go away. We absolutely have to use the technology and the physicality of a fence to make sure we protect our borders the same way we protect our own homes in terms of who gets in and out. And once it’s up, anybody who comes across illegally has to go back. No more debate, no more discussion, you’re going back. But I think we need a guest worker program so people can come in and out legally. And if the labor unions don’t like it, that’s their problem, because there’s a demand and a need for these folks to work. And with the 12, the 11 or 12 million that are here, if they’ve been law-abiding people, they’re going to have to wait. They’re going to have to pay a penalty. But I think at the end of the day, there ought to be a path to legalization. And I think that could actually pass. So we can debate this thing all over and over, and the more we do, the more, the longer it’s going to take to get that border sealed.
HH: And acrimony is growing in the country, and I talked with Donald Trump about the authoritarian temptation when people get really angry in republics. It’s happened throughout history. And it’s a very bad thing when people get this angry over something. What’s John Kasich say to the national mood about, to those who are really very, very angry at Washington, D.C. and the appearance of the inability to get anything done? I mean, you pass laws, you get stuff done in Ohio. Walker gets stuff done in Wisconsin. Governors get stuff done, but Washington doesn’t get anything done.
JK: Well, there’s an awful lot of fighting and bickering. And there’s just partisanship and personal attacks are at an all-time high. Look, Hugh, I was chairman of the Budget Committee when we worked with the Clinton administration to balance the budget, which paid down debt, which created economic growth. And we had a good result. I mean, we worked together, Republicans and Democrats, on welfare reform. When I got to be governor, I began to see the really ugly face of partisanship, but we worked to try to melt that down. And at the end of the day, it’s okay if we fight about our ideas, but we can’t take it to the personal level. And people of both parties have to realize that they’re elected to improve America, not to take care of themselves or their political party. We need better leadership that can get people to rise to a higher purpose when they hold public office. If I didn’t think it was possible, I would not be running for president. I know it can be done. It will be challenging.
HH: Last question, Governor Kasich, a lot of people watched that press conference last night and commented online and on television that the Republican Party was killing itself with Latinos and Hispanics. How can John Kasich persuade Latino-Americans who are citizens from many, many generations, they might consume a lot of their media in Spanish on Univision or Telemundo, but they’re just great Americans, that you are for them, and that they should vote for you?
JK: Well, Hugh, I’ve taken my own position on these things. And I’ve been very clear about it. And look, if I’m the nominee of this party, I will make every effort I can to continue to reach out. And I think that the way that I’ve conducted myself at this point has been positive. So and I think people notice that.
HH: And the momentum still, do you feel that coming out of that first debate, that it continues to grow?
JK: Well, you know, I think the first debate was important, but it’s not like we just had a debate and that was the end of it. We have been, I’ve been to New Hampshire. I mean, I’ve actually been out here kind of sniffing around at what I wanted to do and what I was going to do for, you know, for probably six months. And you know, we’ve done like 14 town hall meetings. And we were getting good crowds even before the debate. We just have to keep at it. I mean, I’m in California right now, believe it or not.
HH: I know.
JK: And I’m out here meeting people, making speeches, raising money. I’ll be heading home tomorrow. We just keep doing what we do, and tell people about me, and hopefully continue to connect.
HH: Governor John Kasich, always a pleasure, look forward to talking to you again soon before the debate.
JK: Thank you, sir. God bless.
End of interview.