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Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas AG Greg Abbott Duel Over The GOP 2016 Convention

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Ohio’s Governor John Kasich and Texas’ Attorney General (and next governor) Greg Abbott joined me on today’s show to debate the respective merits of Cleveland v. Dallas as site of the 2016 GOP convention:

Kasich audio:


Abbott audio:


Kasich transcript:

HH: As I discussed yesterday and in the first hour today, the Republican National Committee has come down to two cities into which to hold the GOP Convention in 2016. One of them in Dallas, which as far as I can tell has an airport to recommend to it, the other is Cleveland. But I decided that I would disqualify myself, having spent much of my youth in Municipal Stadium, and I would go to an unbiased, objective evaluator of the two cities, the Governor of the great state of Ohio, John Kasich joins me now. Governor Kasich, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JK: Perfect, perfect. I would be an unbiased, I think that people should hear what I have to say, because I will speak in an unbiased way about Cleveland, Ohio.

HH: All right, so on this subject, why should the GOP come to Cleveland in 2016?

JK: Well, I mean, I don’t know if anybody’s heard, but it’s like you know, when you have a presidential election, I think they always say how’s Ohio going to go.

HH: Exactly.

JK: So I think that’s number one. Number two, Ohio is a great place to demonstrate the philosophy and success of the Republican Party. You know, we, we’re up a quarter of a million jobs. We went from, we were 350,000 in the hole, up a quarter of a million plus, $8 billion in the hole, now we’re running surpluses. And at the same time that we are doing better economically, Hugh, we are also making sure that we take care of people who live in the shadows. So it’s a perfect place to demonstrate, you know, that Republican principles work, number two, that Ohio’s a critical state, number three, it will be so exciting, because the people in Cleveland will roll out red carpets. There aren’t enough red carpets. We’re going to have to import red carpets. There’s no question.

HH: Now you have been to a lot of Republican conventions. My guess is you’ve been to Republican conventions back to Kansas City in ’76?

JK: I was at the ’76 Convention when Ronald Reagan didn’t win, and I was intimately involved in that campaign.

HH: You see, I thought so. And so part of the part of a convention is a party gets enthusiasm from having fun. And there are a lot of great things about Dallas, and I think you ought to offer them good seating at the Convention Hall over at Gund Arena. But if you want to have fun, there’s just no difference between Cleveland and Dallas. You’re going to have fun on the Lake, and you’re going to have fun at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Science Center, and all these other places.

JK: The Cleveland Museum, the Cleveland Orchestra, so many things. I think the difference is it never gets to be like 150 degrees in Cleveland like it does in Dallas. So I think that’s a plus. I remember going to the convention in Dallas. They had on in Houston. And I mean, seriously, they’re great cities. There’s no question about it. But it is unusually hot. And the thing about Cleveland is that we will be in a situation where we will go and solve, you know, a lot of the typical problems that conventions have, transportation, as you know, Hugh, it’s always a problem.

HH: Right.

JK: We’re on top of all that. The people of Cleveland have come out like you wouldn’t believe. The people of the state are excited. We’re helping from the State of Ohio’s standpoint with our Jobs Ohio, putting money into this thing. I mean, this is really the right pick for so many reasons, you know, so many good reasons.

HH: I also want to illustrate sort of a meta-lesson. You work well with the Democratic mayor of Cleveland. Now they’re got their problems. They’ve got a terrible school system, and you’re helping them on the charter schools and stuff like that.

JK: Well, no, they’re, it’s the biggest school reform in the country.

HH: Exactly.

JK: They are completely turning around, the schools there, and Cleveland has been remade. I mean, it is a hustling, bustling, cool place to be. So it’s alive, and it could also demonstrate how urban areas can come back. But Hugh, I mean, really, the bottom line is Ohio, come on, right?

HH: You don’t have to sell me.

JK: I mean, if we’re not winning Texas, if we’re not winning Texas, we’re not winning anything.

HH: Now your margin in Cuyahoga County four years ago, I know you’re going to improve on it this November, but it’s also the case that if you hold a convention in the middle of a deep blue county, you cut into that margin, and you help the general ticket in the fall. And I think people don’t get that. I’ve been getting these questions, why would we go to a deep blue city. And the answer is we want to make it light blue.

JK: Well, and beyond that, Hugh, I mean, the fact of the matter is it’s Ohio. And it’s not just, and look, Cleveland is, it’s blue collar in a lot of ways. You’ve seen that. I mean, it has great pockets of the ethics. You know, those are the people that Reagan was able to attract. So and look, we have significantly improved relations now in our state with the minority community. We work with them closely. And so I would just say that if you want to move the needle, if you want to go to a place that everybody’s looking at, at 2:00 in the morning on election night, you go to Ohio.

HH: Yup.

JK: And it demonstrates all the fantastic things that we can do when we follow conservative principles. I mean, I don’t know where, why it would be hard, really, to make this choice. Now I know, I’m from Ohio, so you know, even though I’m unbiased, I could see people might think I am. But in all kidding aside, it just makes total sense to go to Ohio.

HH: And it would just be, I don’t think Cleveland’s ever hosted the GOP Convention. I could be wrong about that. But my history book is it has not. I think we’ve been in Cincinnati before, and it would be a tremendous boost. A last question…

JK: I mean, it would be, there would be so much excitement and enthusiasm, it would display everything that is good about the Republicans and how they’ve turned things around. And Cleveland will go crazy to welcome people. And all these things that you run into at a convention, those problems, we’ll be on all of them.

HH: They’ve got a beautiful convention center as well, and the Progressive Field. It would be wonderful to nominate a Republican presidential candidate who’s going to win at Progressive Field. I love the irony of that. And we might even end up nominating the state’s own governor, right? That’s possible.

JK: I’m having trouble hearing you, Hugh.

HH: (laughing)

JK: You’re breaking up.

HH: (laughing) John Kasich, always a pleasure, thanks for joining us, Governor.

JK: All right, good to talk to you.

HH: Be well.

JK: God bless.

End of interview.

Abbott transcript:

HH: As I continue my Texas edition of the Hugh Hewitt Show, it seems like that. I just had on the fabulously successful former mayor of Dallas, Mr. Leppert, who is now the CEO of Kaplan talking about why Dallas should be the home of the GOP convention in 2016. And I’m following up with the next governor of Texas, Greg Abbott there, wildly successful attorney general, perhaps the most successful attorney general in all of America. And Mr. Abbott, welcome, it’s good to have you on, General.

GA: Hey, Hugh, it’s great to be back on with you again, thanks.

HH: Well, the reason I had Tom Leppert on last segment, and you this segment, and I have John Kasich starting next hour, I figure it took two Texans versus one Ohioan to make the case for Dallas, because this is really obviously a Cleveland convention. And I just, if you want to gracefully concede now, it would be a good platform on which to do so.

GA: Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’m talking to you from Dallas, Texas right now, which as you may know, is actually the home of the next Republican National Convention.

HH: Okay.

GA: Listen, let me tell you, here’s the deal, and that is Cleveland so desperately wants to be like Texas. They go and draft Johnny Manziel and try to import a little Texas to the town and to the state.

HH: We do have Johnny Football, and you’re talking to Johnny Radio. But I asked yesterday, here is my honest to goodness question. What is the closest body of water to Dallas?

GA: It’s your closest lake, for one, but if you want a real body of water, we’re the only good coast in America. There’s the East Coast, there’s the left coast, and then there’s the Gulf Coast.

HH: Yeah, but the Gulf Coast is a little bit further. Now the Great Lakes, they call them great for a reason. So we actually don’t let the word lake be applied to ponds. And I was going to point out next, your highway system, now you’re going to be the governor, so you’ll have all those cars in front of you and behind you. And as attorney general, do you get cars in front of you and behind you in Texas?

GA: Well, Hugh, here’s the deal, and that is as you pointed out, I’m running for governor. And if you go onto my website, which is at, you’ll see my transportation plan. And after my election this November, which by the way for your listeners, I’m running against Wendy Davis, who’s getting donations from across the country, so we need to even that up a bit. But you’ll find that I have a transportation plan that’s going to add $5 billion dollars a year to building roads in Texas without raising a single penny in taxes, fees or tolls.

HH: So what you’re saying, what you’re saying then, Greg Abbott, is all of Dallas freeways will be under construction in 2016?

GA: We operate so fast here, it’s going to be a piece of cake getting around in Dallas, Texas, because it is Texas, as you know, that has the can do attitude.

HH: Well, I do want people to know at, two b’s, two t’s, there are 34,707 Twitter followers. That ought to go to 50,000 by the end of today’s show, and 122,000 YouTube videos, and a wonderful video. And this is a lot of fun. You are having fun running for governor, and I love that part about this. But Wendy Davis is not having any fun at all. She makes more mistakes than I did in second grade before I got glasses. She is really, can you stay focused when your opponent is so bent on self-immolation?

GA: Well, you know, what allows me to stay focused, and you are missing the Twitter. If people want to see some of these things I’m talking about, in fact, some of the things I did today up here in the Dallas area, you can to go @GregAbbott_TX, and the reason why the TX obviously stands for Texas. The reason why it’s just not at Greg Abbott is some soccer coach, I think, got the at Greg Abbott. But go to @GregAbbott_TX, and find out what we’re doing to make Texas great, and some of the fun that we have. But it is fun. You know, I can’t focus on all the money that Wendy Davis is bringing in from California and New York and places like that. All I focus on is keeping Texas the number one state for doing business, the number one state for growing jobs, the number one state for producing energy, the number one state for exports, the number one state for farming. Hugh, I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got so many number ones, the only one we need to add to it is the number one state for the next Republican National Convention.

HH: Now I do want to point out, you’ve also got the NBA champions.

GA: Oh, yeah. Of course.

HH: And I’m curious, when you run for governor of Texas, and you’ve got three franchises, who do you root for?

GA: You root for the Texas team.

HH: But I mean, and do you want LeBron to go to Houston, to Dallas or to the Spurs?

GA: Well, we’re honored to have any player who wants to come here. And you know, we’ve got LeBron who’s thinking about moving. There’s news that Carmello Anthony is looking at both the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets. The Spurs are going to be mighty formidable again next year. And so Texas is blessed whether it be basketball teams, or in creating jobs. We’re blessed all the way around.

HH: You know what I love to point out to people, this is in all seriousness, the Lakers want LeBron to come. They want Carmello to come. The income tax they would pay would be 13.2% in California. What’s the income tax they would pay on their ridiculously high salaries in Texas, Greg Abbott?

GA: Another reason why people need to come to Dallas, Texas, and that’s because the income tax you pay here is exactly zero. We don’t have income tax here. We’re never going to have an income tax here. You get to keep more of what you make. So come on to Texas.

HH: You see, this is why I do not understand why the Lakers believe they’re ever going to sign any free agent ever, because 13%, that’s a lot of dough when you’re talking these max five year contracts and four year deals. So Greg Abbott, if she won’t run on anything, and she makes mistake after mistake, what exactly is Wendy Davis appealing to? Texas is running, everything is good in Texas.

GA: Oh, no, it’s absolutely, Hugh, Hugh, it’s absolutely clear what she’s appealing to. She’s appealing to where she spends most of her time, and that is out in California. She’s been out to California many times, but as far as I know, never been to places like a Lubbock, Texas, or San Angelo, Texas, or Abilene, Texas, or all these other places where we have real Texas voters. She really had an event with Steven Spielberg out in Los Angeles raising tons of money. I can’t even count the number of times she’s been to New York and Chicago and Washington, D.C. So people outside of the state love her. The reason why she has more Twitter followers than I do is because more people outside the state are following her. But your audience, if you guys followed me @GregAbbot_TX, follow me, and we’ll let you know how you can make your state number one, too.

HH: I just sent that out there. I just think it’s very unfair that Texas comes to California and takes all the Toyota jobs and sends us Wendy Davis in return. But I’ll tell you, the one thing you ought to look into, Attorney General Abbott, is that you need hotels to have a convention. And as far as I can tell, Dallas has three. And you can’t stay in Fort Worth and effectively get to Dallas. I went to the Fort Worth Club a couple of weeks ago. That’s a fine institution. But I had all, and it is about 110 degrees there today, isn’t it?

GA: Hugh, you know, you’re very nice. I love you a lot. But you know, you cannot count. I’m sitting at Love Field right now, and I’m looking at five or six hotels within about a nine iron from where I am right now.

HH: Well, I’ve got nothing against Best Westerns and Marriott Courtyards, but we want the real deal, and they’re in Cleveland. But Greg Abbott, keep coming back and keep that campaign going. @GregAbbott_TX, follow him on Twitter, go to and be part of the campaign to make him the next great governor of Texas.

End of interview.



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