Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me on today’s show:
HH: Joined now by Ohio Govenror John Kasich. Governor, welcome back, always good to talk to you.
JK: Thank you, sir.
HH: I’m a bit mystified, however. I keep checking the mail, and the invitation to the Governor’s box for the Ohio State-Michigan State game on 11/21 has not yet arrived.
JK: Well, I don’t, I doubt I’ll be there, Hugh. So if I can’t go, you aren’t going, either.
JK: That’s just life.
JK: I mean, I’ve got bigger fish to fry right now, although most in Columbus would think no, that’s not his biggest fish as that big game, so I’ll tell you, I watched in amazement at that game last week. I sat with a guy who graduated from Michigan, and my wife and his wife, and with ten seconds to go, he said I hope they can at least punt the ball.
HH: You know, I turned the channel. I turned the channel.
JK: You’re kidding me. That’s unbelievable.
HH: I’m sorry. Hey, let’s get to serious stuff. Yesterday, former Secretary of State Clinton spent 11 hours, you’ve done a lot of those oversight, was that a productive hearing, in your view? What did it teach us, if…
JK: I have not, I did not see more than literally 20 seconds of it. I was in Connecticut yesterday and New Hampshire all day until very late, so I never saw any of it. So I’m not a good analyst of what happened.
HH: All right, then let me turn to something you’ve got to know about, which is the new Des Moines poll, which shows you’re down there at 2%, but yet John Weaver, one of your campaign strategists, tweets out today you’re proud of the low burn rate at John Kasich campaign coupled with the best organization in New Hampshire by far, and growing teams in Iowa, South Carolina, Michigan and more. So how’s the state of the campaign when the numbers don’t look so good, but your strategist is feeling good?
JK: Well, Hugh, you know, and first of all, it’s still early. In Iowa, we’re going to put more time in there. And you know, but it’s a caucus state, and it’s important, but we particularly like the idea of a primary up here in New Hampshire where I am right now with about 1.3 million people that live here. We can touch them all. And so it’s a matter of the resources that you apply and the time you can apply. So we’ll be doing more in Iowa, but we consider New Hampshire critical, but not without consideration of South Carolina and a whole host of other states including Michigan and what we’re doing in the South. So look, I mean, politics right now is about building from the bottom up, Hugh, not starting at the top and going down. And we feel very good about where we are here in New Hampshire, and so we’re be putting some more time in Iowa, and hopefully, we’ll see some improvement there. In terms of our burn rate, it’s typical of John Kasich and his team, that would be me, to make sure that we keep ourselves lean, and we just don’t get ourselves in trouble financially. So we’re okay, Hugh. I’m not sweating anything.
HH: All right, now I’m going to be sitting across from you again at the Venetian in December, and again in March at the 3rd CNN/Salem Media Group, and I’m going to be asking Defense questions if I get my way, and I’m going to ask about the Defense Authorization Act that was vetoed by the President yesterday. That’s happened twice in 40 years. I am stunned that it happens during a war. What’s your reaction to that, John Kasich?
JK: Well, I just cannot believe that he vetoed that Defense bill. And what he’s basically doing is saying if you don’t raise all other spending, you shouldn’t raise Defense spending, which means that he’s kind of playing chicken with our military. And I don’t think that’s a very smart way to go. I mean, I think Republicans ought to try to override his veto, and we ought to make it clear that the lack of the resources we need to provide what our men and women in the service need falls squarely on the shoulders of the President. And I don’t think we ought to raise other spending. And I think we ought to point out that it’s the President who is not, by the way, agreeing that our military needs additional resources. It’s pretty amazing. I actually read it today, and I thought well, this can’t be true. But unfortunately, it is.
HH: Now within that Defense Authorization Act are a couple of particular items which are big. I talked to Donald Trump yesterday about the F-35. Canada is going to cancel their order for 60 of these planes. I don’t know if you’re up to speed on the F-35, but it’s a program in trouble. What are we going to do about that if you’re President Kasich?
JK: Well, you know, it depends who you talk to, Hugh. I mean, we definitely need to have a great air to air capability. And this plane is put together to try to serve multiple services. And yeah, there’s some issues with it, but I’ve had people who have been fighter pilots tell me that the avionics is terrific, the package is good. And look, for me, I think you know this, I’ve always been a cheap hawk. I support a strong defense, but I don’t support just throwing money at things. In fact, you know, I have a plan to balance the budget in eight years, and I provide for it in increased defense spending, and I think it’s even a little bit more than what the House Republicans want. And I just think it’s important that we’re careful about where we put our resources. But you know, the Marines, my understanding is Marines not long ago said they were very happy with the F-35. I think it’s, you know, look, I think we can learn some lessons from it. But I’m not convinced we should cancel the program.
HH: All right, then, also in the Kasich plan, we need a replacement for the Ohio-Class submarine. Is that in the Kasich plan?
JK: Well, we have a significant increase, and you know that I’ve always felt the Navy needs to be reinforced, because the Navy gives us the both the mobility and the lethality we need. But all the services, the Army needs more technology. We’re concerned about the reduction in troop levels. We know we need to have, we need to have a strong Navy. So all these things get done over a period of time, and I think we have enough money to really get started in strengthening the military.
HH: Now Governor Kasich, a lot of America’s best war fighters – Petraeus, McChrystal, Odierno, Mattis, especially Mattis up at Stanford, they’ve all left. If you’re President Kasich, will you think about bringing back some of these guys who know how to win this particular war?
JK: Well, Hugh, I mean, the way you have to do things is you need to have those who are sort of conventional thinkers, and you need to have some people who are unconventional thinkers in the service. And then you’ve got to have a situation where you have civilians who are experts and studied and made a career out of this. You know, you want to obviously get the best and the brightest. And you know, in terms of who I would bring in and who my commanders are, I’m not prepared to say that right now. But they all have, they all have certain great assets, and it’s a matter of what they want to do at the same time. But I will tell you that we will bring the best military leadership that we can, and give them the resources they need while at the same time having a secretary of Defense who can reform the Pentagon so that we’re not wasting money through bureaucracy, red tape and delay.
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HH: Two questions for you. Paul Ryan as a Speaker, your reaction to that, and then the faith-based element that is lifting Ben Carson in Iowa, I don’t know that people know what John Kasich’s faith background is. I do, but would you talk about Paul Ryan and your faith background?
JK: Well, is Paul in now? I don’t know what his situation is.
HH: He said he’s in, but he hasn’t won, but he said he’s going to run.
JK: All right, okay, well look, as an executive and a potential president, I don’t get involved in leadership decisions. I just want to make sure they have somebody there who’s going to be able to work with us to push a very aggressive agenda, you know, freezing regulations for at least a year, dealing with the budget so we can get it to balance in eight years, reasonable tax plan, an energy policy that give us independence. All is important. I know Paul. He’s a very good man. He’d be a very good Speaker. But I’m not in the business of picking Speakers. That’s up to the members of the United States House in the Republican caucus.
HH: And then to the faith question, which seems to be buoying Ben Carson in Iowa and elsewhere. What’s John Kasich’s approach to religious belief?
JK: Well, Hugh, I’ve talked about it out here on the trail only because I’m concerned that we have a situation where we’ve seen weakened families and weakened communities. And I think at the end of the day, we have to be clear that we have to live a life bigger than ourselves, that we have to be the center of justice and healing, and that we have to be responsible to a power greater than us, higher than us.
HH: Are you comfortable…
JK: And humanists may not share my belief in the higher power, but they do believe in trying to improve the world. And as far as faith goes, I believe we need to focus on the do’s before we focus on the don’ts.
HH: Are you comfortable talking about your Christianity to groups, because it seems to me that that’s what’s working for Ben Carson?
JK: Well, Hugh, I’m comfortable, you know, at times talking about my faith, but I’m not going to do it to win a vote.
HH: I wouldn’t expect you to.
JK: I’d rather do it to improve our society and give people a sense of how I see it. I’ve written a book about my faith. It was a bestseller. But I don’t look at conversations about faith as a way to get a vote. I think it cheapens faith.
HH: It does, but…
JK: I’m not saying Ben Carson’s doing it. I don’t know what he’s doing. But I talk about it where it’s appropriate, and if you look at the Iowa Soapbox, you’ll see a speech where I talk about a lot of these things. And I’ve talked about it a lot today, and I talk about it all the time.
HH: And are you…
JK: But you know of I need to talk more about faith so I can get more votes? No thanks.
HH: Are you still meeting with that every other Monday group?
JK: I sure do. In fact, we just had a meeting last Monday.
HH: Okay, Governor. Governor, now if you change your mind on that Michigan State game, I expect the phone to ring.
JK: I’ll tell you what. You’ll be one of the first 40,000 I’ll call.
HH: (laughing) Thank you, John Kasich.
JK: Thank you, Hugh.
End of interview.