February 22nd, 2015
03:03 PM ET

Gov. Kasich: fighting ISIS "at some point it will require boots on the ground"

CNN’s State of the Union features Gloria Borger’s exclusive interview with Ohio Governor John Kasich (R-OH) about his possible presidential campaign, the Republican Party platform, and U.S. foreign policy.

 


TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Kasich on the 2016 election: “a Republican can't be elected president without winning Ohio, and if they're going to come to Ohio, extremism isn't going to work.”

Kasich on ISIS policy: “I'm just suggesting to you that at some point, in dealing with ISIS, you mark my words, whether John Kasich, you ever hear from him again, at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem. And I would rather deal with it sooner than later, but you just don't go running over there. You've got to have a battle plan, you've got to figure out exactly what you're going to do, but I would never suggest that we should engage in nation building, or trying to convert all these people to our way of life. We need stability, and we need to stop this.”

Kasich on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: “Well I'd have a meeting with him. We'd have a cup of coffee, why not? This is, they're making such a big deal. And the guy, you know, been invited to come speak to Congress. Let him speak, and the president can have a meeting with him, they don't have to have a photo op or anything but of course you go and you talk to him. I mean that's the way I look at it. I mean, but I'm not president again and I'm not sure I will ever be president, because I haven't decided whether I'm even going to try for that yet. 24:29 But what I would tell you is use common sense. You got a foreign leader coming, a great ally of ours, he's coming here. Was it handled in maybe a clumsy way? Okay, so it was. But look, get beyond that. See that's our problem, Gloria, we spend too much time either trying to be politically correct, play to the cameras, play to our base. 24:50 I worry about America. For the first time in my lifetime, I'm worried about us. I'm worried about how our values to some degree have been eroded, of personal responsibility and compassion, and teamwork. I worry about it, I worry about the fact that we're so divided. But do I think it can be fixed? I have no doubt, because I saw Ronald Reagan do it, and I've seen other great leaders throughout history. Harry Truman, whatever party they are they can bring us together, it can happen.”
FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KASICH: when I left Washington after being Budget Chairman and being part of the budget deal with a $5 trillion surplus, we blew the whole thing. We have to change the culture because it's going to eat us alive.
BORGER: Is this a way for you to test the presidential waters?
KASICH: Not really, but the reason I came here is that I know that it would send hearts a-twitter, to say "what is he doing?" and that's why I came here.

BORGER: Are you going to run for president? Let me just ask you directly.
KASICH: I don't know. I have all my options are on the table, and it's a process that I, you know, have really not spent an enormous amount of time studying internally. But look, I'm not saying I won't, I'm not saying I will, I'm leaving my options out there and let's just see how things develop. I do, Gloria look, I do want the country as much as I can in a really in a humble way to tell people about what's happened in Ohio. 5:22 And what's happened in Ohio has been incredibly good and I think people need to hear about the way we think out there, and what we do.

BORGER: How does John Kasich figure it out? What's your timetable? Everybody's raising money, everybody's out there in early states like this.
KASICH: Well I can let the pundits write me off, and say you know "it won't happen." That's okay, I'm cool with that. But look, I am the governor of Ohio. We haven't had an election decided by anything but putting a thread through the eye of a needle, and I won 86 out of 88 counties, and it's a big state and it matters, and I think I can, you know, go on my own timeframe to make this decision, and I'm going to try to make the best decision that I can, and I will do it when I'm ready, not when somebody else is ready, or whatever the experts say. I mean it just doesn't work that way.

BORGER: Where do you fit on the Republican spectrum?
KASICH: You know, you figure it out, I think a lot of people have a hard time trying to figure where I fit. And I've never put myself in a box. So we're balancing budgets, we're cutting taxes, and guess what, we're helping the poor to get on their feet. And we believe that when you have great economic success, you need to share it with those who live in the shadows.

BORGER: But it is the state of Ohio, which is so important in a presidential election.
KASICH: Probably a Republican can't be elected president without winning Ohio, and if they're going to come to Ohio, extremism isn't going to work.
BORGER: So is this a formula for Republicans, is that what you're saying?
KASICH: I think it's a formula for the country. Look at problems and fix them. Don't be worried about the next election. I mean too politicians worry about getting elected as they do their job, if they worried more about doing their job they'd get elected.
BORGER: If you decide not to run, obviously you'd be on a list of Vice Presidential candidates again, because you're-
KASICH: I've been on a list of Vice Presidential candidates since I was, you know, I don't know, 35 years old or something (LAUGHTER) I pay no attention to that. And look, I love being- Look, as governor-
BORGER: would you have any interest in it?
KASICH: I'm interested in being governor, now.
BORGER: Okay.
KASICH: Okay.
BORGER: Well
KASICH: What do Vice Presidents do by the way? (LAUGHS)
BORGER: What do they do?
KASICH: I think they stop traffic on roads when they move from point X to point Y, I don't know.
BORGER: You should ask Joe Biden.
KASICH: He stopped me today, so yeah.
BORGER: (LAUGHS) He was in South Carolina today too, exactly. Well, talking about Ohio, you did win with 64% of the vote. Impressive statistics, 60% of women voted for you, 26% of African Americans voted for you. You look like presidential gold on paper, yet if you look at the conservatives who vote in Republican primaries, you also took the Medicaid expansion money, and the Tea Party thinks you've gone to the dark side, that you're for big government. Rand Paul has said the governors who did that think that "money grows on trees."
KASICH: You mean Senator Ron Paul?
BORGER: No, Rand Paul.
KASICH: Oh, I get them confused sometimes. (LAUGHTER) Ron and Rand, and I served with Ron. But anyway, I think, what works for us in Ohio? We are running surpluses of two billion, we are structurally balanced. Half the states, almost half the states are not.
BORGER: But what do you say to conservatives?
KASICH: Let me go on. I've cut the taxes in Ohio, the legislature and I, by the largest tax cut in our history. That's kind of conservatism. Now let me tell you another thing. You know, Mathew 25 says that it's about how you treat the widowed, how you treat the poor, how you treat the hungry. How you clothe those who have no clothes. That is a conservative position to help them get on their feet so they then can assume their rightful place in our society. The faith community that I think still is, at least used to be, a part of the conservative movement. And the conservative movement is you don't just kick people to the shadows, or push them off the side of the road.

BORGER: So what would you say to Rand Paul, when he says-
KASICH: I'm not sure I would say much to him. I mean I don't know what he, you know maybe he doesn't work in Kentucky, maybe everybody's fine, maybe there aren't people who are suffering these problems. It's either pay me now, or pay me later, and we think by giving people an opportunity to get the help they need, and then give them the tools they need to rise, that is conservatism. And you know what, I've got as much a right as anybody in the Republican Party to define what conservatism means. We've cut taxes more than anybody in the country, and they're wondering about my conservatism? Maybe I should wonder about theirs.

BORGER: And you haven't ruled out a pathway to citizenship, you say you don't like it on immigration. But how can you have those positions and win your party's nomination?
KASICH: Well, you know-
BORGER: If you were to run.
KASICH: First of all, when I ran in 2010, I received self-identified conservatives, 80% of their vote. I can't think of anything that's more conservative, or more right, in terms of what America's about than opportunity.
BORGER: Do you think this is a problem for the Republican Party?
KASICH: I will tell you this, if somebody comes into Ohio and they're extreme, they're not going to win. I mean we don't operate that way in Ohio.

BORGER: Let me move to foreign policy. So, is Hillary Clinton's foreign policy experience an asset for her? I mean it seems to be kind of hard to match, at least as you look at the lineup of Republicans.
KASICH: Well, you know, I don't want to get into Hillary. You know I like Hillary, but I'm not ever going to be for her for president. But you know Gloria foreign policy does matter. And you know so hopefully whether I do this or not, I can have somewhat of a voice when it comes to the fact that America, you know it just seems to be in retreat. 20:48 Here's the tragedy. I talk to, you know, people who really are, they're just kind of bipartisan folks who've studied these issues. A lot of our friends, allies, and even our enemies are wondering, "where's America? What's happening to it?" And we are a moral force in the world, and when we decide to leave, or to double talk, or to paint red lines and walk away from them, we develop credibility problems.

BORGER: How would you handle ISIS differently from the way the president has?
KASICH: Well I, honestly I think that the Western world needs to be united, and we need to invite our friends in the Arab world together, and we do need to develop a plan, and we're not going to solve this problem just by bombing. I mean we've never, it never fixes it all. Even in the Gulf War, we had the early bombing, but then we put boots on the ground.
BORGER: Would you send, would you-
KASICH: I think we should be part of an effort to deal with this problem before it gets much worse.
BORGER: So you would consider boots on the ground?
KASICH: Look, Americans will go for leadership that makes sense. Our job, you know, as public officials, is not to put our finger in the air. Our job is to listen, and then lead.
BORGER: So you would say to the American people?
KASICH: Well, I'm, first of all I'm not president now, so I'm not making a speech tonight in the Oval Office. I'm just suggesting to you that at some point, in dealing with ISIS, you mark my words, whether John Kasich, you ever hear from him again, at some point it will require boots on the ground from the world to be able to deal with this problem. And I would rather deal with it sooner than later, but you just don't go running over there. You've got to have a battle plan, you've got to figure out exactly what you're going to do, but I would never suggest that we should engage in nation building, or trying to convert all these people to our way of life. We need stability, and we need to stop this.

BORGER: If you were president and Netanyahu came to speak before the Congress, would you?
KASICH: Well I'd have a meeting with him. We'd have a cup of coffee, why not? This is, they're making such a big deal. And the guy, you know, been invited to come speak to Congress. Let him speak, and the president can have a meeting with him, they don't have to have a photo op or anything but of course you go and you talk to him. I mean that's the way I look at it. I mean, but I'm not president again and I'm not sure I will ever be president, because I haven't decided whether I'm even going to try for that yet. 24:29 But what I would tell you is use common sense. You got a foreign leader coming, a great ally of ours, he's coming here. Was it handled in maybe a clumsy way? Okay, so it was. But look, get beyond that. See that's our problem, Gloria, we spend too much time either trying to be politically correct, play to the cameras, play to our base. 24:50 I worry about America. For the first time in my lifetime, I'm worried about us. I'm worried about how our values to some degree have been eroded, of personal responsibility and compassion, and teamwork. I worry about it, I worry about the fact that we're so divided. But do I think it can be fixed? I have no doubt, because I saw Ronald Reagan do it, and I've seen other great leaders throughout history. Harry Truman, whatever party they are they can bring us together, it can happen.


Topics: CNN Politics • Gloria Borger • ISIS • Israel • State of the Union
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