Ohio Governor John Kasich joined me today to discuss the state of the race after Super Tuesday 1:
HH: Joined by Ohio Governor John Kasich. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JK: Thank you, sir.
HH: What is your thinking today after Super Tuesday?
JK: Well, I feel pretty good about yesterday. We, you know, ran neck and neck with Donald Trump in Vermont to split the delegates with him, finished second in Massachusetts, picked up delegates there, picked up some delegates in Virginia. And now the focus of this campaign heads more to home court, up north. I’m in Michigan today, and then, of course, one week from Michigan is Ohio. And then it’s off to the races.
HH: Governor Kasich, is there any circumstance in which you can see yourself withdrawing before Ohio votes?
JK: No. Why would I do that?
HH: No reason.
JK: We’re doing well.
HH: I asked that, because my brother, John, he’s a Warren guy, and he wants to vote for you in the primaries, a lifelong Republican like me. And like most Buckeyes, he thinks you’ve done a great, great job as governor. He doesn’t want to waste his vote, and he doesn’t want to get all worked up about working for you if you’re going to leave. So I just, I think a lot of Ohioans are like him. They want to know that you’re in it to win it.
JK: No, I’m in it all the way. I mean, absolutely. I mean, I have to win Ohio. And it’s just plain and simple. But yeah, I’m coming to Ohio. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t come to Ohio. There would be no reason for that.
HH: So a bad showing in Michigan, in other words, would not deter you?
JK: No, no, no. And I don’t think we’re going to have a bad showing in Michigan. We’ll be fine. I never said I was going to win here, but it’s critical that we win in Ohio. And that’s pretty important.
HH: Now it is generally recognized, it’s generally recognized that you cannot get to 1,237 delegates by July. But is there anything wrong with your home state convention picking someone who arrives at the convention who wasn’t the delegate leader at the time they arrived there?
JK: Well, Hugh, I don’t know why you say that. We’ve picked about 30% of the delegates, and we have about 70% to go. So it is mathematically possible for somebody to win enough delegates to get to the convention. So you know, I mean, that’s my view on it. And is there a possibility we’d have some kind of a, I don’t know what they call it, some call it brokered, there’s other names for the convention. Is that a possibility? Anything’s a possibility in this year. But I don’t really anticipate that happening.
HH: The reason I bring it up is that the professionals like Chuck Todd, and vote counters like Josh Kraushaar and others say no one except Donald can get to 1,237, but that he’s unlikely to get to that, too, and that we will have the so-called open convention or contested convention. There aren’t any brokers left. I mean, that’s silly. There aren’t any brokers. But I raise the question of whether or not someone who doesn’t have the delegate lead could legitimately be the nominee of the party, because I believe the answer is yes. But do you believe that?
JK: Well you know, I’m not going to speculate on that. I’ve got a job to do in Michigan and Ohio, and I’m not thinking about, you know, what the convention would look like. Let me just take things a day at a time here.
JK: And if we get to that point, then I’ll give you an answer.
HH: All right, now then, I know you’re not doing negative campaigning. A lot of people find that appealing. But you will contrast.
HH: Donald Trump is the leader. Why should people pick Kasich over Trump in Michigan and Ohio, and anywhere else?
JK: Well, because, Hugh, I understand people are frustrated, but you have to have a way to solve these problems. You’ve got to have specific ways. You’ve got to know what the details are. You have to know how to work with the Congress to get it done. So I brought the greater, you know, balanced budgets. We had significant job growth when I was a congressman. Ohio has been turned around. So I have a record of reform, and a record of success. And I know that people are frustrated, but I think we’ve got to start picking people who have a history of knowing how to solve something, because without the history, I’m afraid we’ll continue to drift as a country.
HH: This afternoon, we’re talking shortly after Dr. Ben Carson withdrew from the race. And so there are a lot of up for grabs voters out there today, lots of them, thousands, hundreds of thousands of them that supported Dr. Carson. Why should they come to John Kasich?
JK: Well, look, Hugh, I mean, I am who I am. They know my record. They’ve watched me, I would assume, in almost ten debates. And I have great admiration for Dr. Carson. I think that the single biggest issue in the country, it’s really the three biggest issues in the country, are jobs, jobs and jobs. And then beyond that, it’s all of us being able to recognize that we’re made special, and that we need to do things to heal the world in which we live. And you know, I think that stands not just for Evangelicals, but it stands for everybody, that you know, we don’t need to wait around for a bigwig from Washington to come in. We need to understand that we have a role, which is to live a life bigger than ourselves.
HH: Now if, I don’t know if you’ve seen, you’re active on Twitter, but it’s probably a very superbly trained staff and not John Kasich, like Donald Trump tweeting away. Nevertheless, on Twitter, a movement has developed called #NeverTrump by people who fear Trump. I’m not one of the. I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to say never anything. I think people ought to keep open minds and open hearts and open eyes. But what is going on inside of the Republican Party that has made people reject Donald so vigorously and refuse to have anything to do with him, and on the other hand, say they will leave the party if Donald isn’t the nominee? It’s not the way we normally do things.
JK: Well, I think it’s a long way, Hugh, until we get to the convention. And things twist and turn in this business. And I think people, some people say that he’s not capable of being able to solve these problems. And I think they’d like to see these problems settled, and when they listen to him, they think he’s not the one to do it. And then, you know, he’s had some, said some very incendiary things in the course of all this, and they don’t like it. And you know, I respect the fact that they don’t like it. But it’s a long way to go until we get to the convention.
HH: As a practical matter, I know that Donald Trump denounced David Duke and the KKK the day before the Jake Tapper interview, and he did it the day after the Jake Tapper interview. But he didn’t do it during the Jake Tapper interview. And as a practical matter, that will be packaged by the Democrats, if he is the nominee, and it will be used to increase their turnout and to enrage their base, no matter what he says. As a practical matter, do you think it’s disqualifying what he said?
JK: Well, I’m very upset that he ever said what he, or what he didn’t say about David Duke. Is it disqualifying? I would have told you it was disqualifying. Hugh, again, he came out the day after it, and said that he was condemning it. But you know, he didn’t handle it right, and we’ll see.
HH: It is, you are a veteran of, I don’t know how many elections you’ve won. You’ve only lost one election you entered. That was the presidential nomination race in 2000. So you are very good at winning elections. So you are also very good at the practical politics of it, and you’ve got John Weaver hanging around with you, and he’s excellent at this.
JK: Oh, John Weaver’s not that good at this.
HH: (laughing) He’s a Browns fan, though.
JK: He’s sitting here with me.
HH: So he’s a Browns fan.
JK: He’s not a Browns fan. Where’d you ever pick that up?
HH: He is, too, a Browns fan. He’s admitted it on Twitter.
HH: So the practical reality, I’m back to the Klan thing. Even if Donald Trump could get 50 bishops, 100 bishops as they used to say in law school to swear that he hasn’t got a problem in his heart with regards to race, it’s a practical issue, isn’t it, that it will become a huge obstacle to his electoral success?
JK: Hugh, we’ve got a long way to go. I’m sort of done talking about Donald Trump today.
HH: (laughing) You’re subtle as always, Governor. All right, talk to me about…
JK: Can we change the subject?
HH: Yeah, okay. Let me change the subject to the D.C.- country divide. And by that, I mean there is a huge animus towards the District of Columbia and Washington elites and the new Rome that is there. Do you feel that on the trail? That’s what’s driving this election cycle.
JK: Well, I think that there are a lot of people, that David Brooks wrote a column I thought was very interesting, that people are frustrated. They keep picking outsiders who make promises to them about how everything’s going to change, and they go to Washington and nothing changes. So they pick more outsiders, and then nothing changes, and they get more frustrated. And I think that’s kind of where we are today. And my view is that you just calmly and precisely explain to people how the system works, what is your background in terms of what are the things that you offer, what is your resume of reform, and what have you accomplished, and you let people know what it is, and stay cool, calm and collected about it all.
HH: You are in Michigan, and later today, I’m going to talk with Dr. Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, and he’s on the show with me once a week, and he always says the same thing. He is for the person who is most trustworthy with regards to how the Constitution operates, and will respect it. You’ve been trying to amend it, but that means you respect it. And how do you speak to that issue of Constitutionalism and its importance?
JK: Well, I think the Constitution lays out the fact that you know, we want to make sure that we shift a lot of power, money and influence out of the centralized authority in Washington and shift it back to the states, which is fundamentally the vision that the founders had, that the states should be the laboratories of innovation, and that we shouldn’t vest all these powers in the federal government. And I think we also know that the secret to our country is that power is supposed to go from the bottom up, not the top down. And so I’m very committed to shifting a lot of programs – welfare, education, Medicaid, job training, infrastructure, out of Washington to begin with to begin sending power back to where people can innovate and develop unique solutions that we can all learn from one another on. And I think that’s that federalism that we hear so much about.
HH: What about the President using executive orders and doing unusual things like visiting Cuba and this deal with Iran, which are so far outside of the mainstream of the American experience for the last 40 years that they speak to unilateralism on the part of the President?
JK: Yeah, I don’t think that’s good, and I have to work with the legislature, just like a president has to work with Congress. And if an executive goes overboard on that, number one, they disrupt their ability to achieve significant things over time working with the legislature, and number two, it exceeds executive authority. So I do, I do have executive orders, but the executive orders that I have put into place are by and large things that I’ve worked with the legislative leaders to discuss. So I think that’s what a president should do. And when you start ignoring the Congress, and you start just imposing your own will on them, frankly, I think it’s absolutely out of line. Some people say it’s unconstitutional. I don’t know. I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I’m opposed to what the President has been doing on this.
HH: And this brings me back to the last question I asked you at the debate, and maybe the first one I’ll ask you on Thursday in Miami, because I’m back on the stage. The vacancy created by the loss of the lion of the law, Scalia, is enormous, in my view, in the importance here. And you answered it, but let’s do it again. Why should people trust John Kasich to pick Supreme Court justices?
JK: Well, you know, I’ve picked over 100 of them in my state, and I’ve picked conservatives, people who don’t make the law, but people who interpret the law. And we picked people of, you know, great integrity and high quality, and we examine it carefully, and have even picked a judge who serves on the Ohio Supreme Court, happens to be a woman. She’s a conservative, and has done a great job. So you know, in terms of what I would do, my record’s clear. You can see the kind of people that I’ve picked, and they are conservative.
HH: Last question, John Kasich, the Florida primary is the same day as the Ohio primary. I don’t know if I’ll talk to you about this, I wouldn’t waste a question on the debate stage with this, but I’ve got one minute here. Do you want Kasich supporters to vote strategically, in other words, to support Marco Rubio in Florida in order to block Donald Trump from winning a winner take all vote?
JK: Well, look, I mean, I don’t, I’m not prepared to talk about our Florida or Ohio strategy at this point. We’ll save that for another interview at another time. And I’d be glad to come on and talk about it. That’s why I have people like John Weaver, because of the way he’s fought and is scheming. But I haven’t really had any extensive conversations with him or my manager, Beth Hanson, to figure out exactly, you know, what our strategy is going forward. I’m in Michigan today. I left, where the heck was I yesterday? Oh, I was in Mississippi, got in about 1:00 in the morning, got up, got to bed about 2:00, got up about 6:00, flew to Michigan, and I’m about out of answers today.
HH: All right, Governor, then I’m out of questions.
HH: I will see you on the stage in Florida, if not before.
JK: All right, Hugh. We’ll see you.
HH: Thank you. Be well.
End of interview.