December 6th, 2015
01:14 PM ET

Kasich: "If you're on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to go out and get a gun"

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich (R-OH), joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the San Bernardino attack.

 

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

 

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

 

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Kasich on encryption: “Well, I think a lot of it, Jake, from the intelligence people I talk to, the ones that I'm familiar with here in our state, is basically the fact that these two out in California may have been communicating, but they may have - as they say, have gone dark. In other words, I know that there were people being monitored who they were in touch with, but we also know that these - this couple had not been identified.  So, no, I think the issue of encryption is for real.  It's serious. And the Congress needs to get on it, because we - we are going to require a national solution.”

 

Kasich describes the need for a coalition against ISIS: “I don't believe that we can defeat ISIS just from the air.  And I don't think we can rely on just other people to take care of that job. I believe the United States should be leading an effort right now to assemble a coalition just like we saw on the first Gulf War.  And I remember when the ambassador from Egypt to the United States stood in the Rose Garden and pledged support.  And we went.  We were able to drive Saddam out of Kuwait.  That was a serious matter.  This is a much more serious matter. And we should be using everything we can to assemble a coalition of the West and our friends in the Middle East.  And we need to go and destroy ISIS where they are. And then, Jake, you know, I have also talked about the battle of ideas.  And we're increasingly beginning to wonder about why people affiliate with ISIS… And the longer we wait, the more complicated and the more costly it will be.”

 

Kasich on his campaign ad focused on Trump: “the gentleman that you hear speaking is a former POW who feels very strongly about the United States being united.  This is a message about unite - about uniting people. When you attack Hispanics, when you characterize all Muslims in a very negative way, when you insult women, we don't think that that's good.  We think, at this point in time, more than any other time, we need to have - we need to have America united.  And we need to have an American president who is going to unite us and not divide us. And it's no more than that.  And any read into it more than that is certainly not what was intended or what was meant.”

 

Kasich on the recent gun control vote in the Senate: “Well, Jake, on the no-fly list, we probably could keep them from getting guns and ought to ban them. But, on the watch list, I can tell you that, even in our state, when we stop somebody, when our law enforcement stops somebody who is on the watch list, we don't tell them we're on the - they're an the watch list. We want to make sure that we can exploit all the information that we can possibly get.  So, if all of the sudden, you tell everybody who is on the watch list that you can't do this or that, then guess what happens?  Then we lose our ability to track.  We lose our ability to gather information. So, I think we have to be careful.  Of course, it makes common sense to say that, if you're on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to go out and get a gun, although you will be able to get it illegally.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR:  Joining me now is Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

 

Governor Kasich, thanks so much for joining us.

 

So, Donald Trump, the front-runner of the Republican Party, says that he's not ruling out a data - database of Muslims.  He says, when it comes to going after ISIS, we should take our their families.

 

Should this be the national security policy of the Republican Party?

 

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don't - I don't think so, Jake.

 

In terms of the families, look, we have these counterterrorism task forces across this country headed by the FBI.  And - and I trust the intelligence community.  They need more tools.

 

I mean, Jake, one of the problems that we have is, these folks have been able to encrypt their messages.  We know that that was the case in Paris.  And we suspect it's the case here.

 

In other words, they can communicate, and our intelligence community, intelligence authorities cannot see those communications.  This is really troubling.  This is the issue of encryption.  And in order to solve that, that problem is going to have to be solved by the technology companies, the government.

 

We are going to have to get together, because if, in fact, our intelligence community cannot see what is going on, cannot understand the communications, then we're operating in the dark.

 

And, look, we have a counterterrorism task force right here in Ohio.  They're spread across the country.  We work with them.  It includes local law enforcement.  And they have to have the tools that they need in order to be effective.

 

But to say that somebody knew something or whatever, that's - I mean, we have to rely on the intelligence community to draw their conclusions and do their investigations.

 

TAPPER:  Is there any evidence that encryption played a role in this attack?

 

In - in the Paris attacks just recently, we heard the same call for encryption technology to be released to the intelligence community, and it seems as though that the terrorists there were communicating on Facebook.  They were basically hiding in plain sight.

 

KASICH:  Well, I think a lot of it, Jake, from the intelligence people I talk to, the ones that I'm familiar with here in our state, is basically the fact that these two out in California may have been communicating, but they may have - as they say, have gone dark.

 

In other words, I know that there were people being monitored who they were in touch with, but we also know that these - this couple had not been identified.  So, no, I think the issue of encryption is for real.  It's serious.

 

And the Congress needs to get on it, because we - we are going to require a national solution.  But, look, let's just go back to one other thing that I think is critical.  I don't believe that we can defeat ISIS just from the air.  And I don't think we can rely on just other people to take care of that job.

 

I believe the United States should be leading an effort right now to assemble a coalition just like we saw on the first Gulf War.  And I remember when the ambassador from Egypt to the United States stood in the Rose Garden and pledged support.  And we went.  We were able to drive Saddam out of Kuwait.  That was a serious matter.  This is a much more serious matter.

 

And we should be using everything we can to assemble a coalition of the West and our friends in the Middle East.  And we need to go and destroy ISIS where they are.

 

And then, Jake, you know, I have also talked about the battle of ideas.  And we're increasingly beginning to wonder about why people affiliate with ISIS.  You know, when people have no meaning in their lives, they begin to do things that sometimes can be totally crazy.

 

And so I believe that the West, along with our moderate Muslim friends, need to communicate that we're about civilization, we're about life, those kinds of things, but immediately destroy ISIS in a coalition on the ground.  You mark my words.  We will ultimately have to do it.

 

And the longer we wait, the more complicated and the more costly it will be.

 

TAPPER:  Your campaign released a Web video last week that I want to ask you about.  It likened Donald Trump to Nazis in some way.

 

Let's - let's roll a little bit of that.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, KASICH CAMPAIGN AD)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with their government, because you're not one.  And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's OK to rough up black protesters, because you're not one.  But think about this.  If he keeps going and he actually becomes president, he might just...

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAPPER:  So, Governor Kasich, it's based on the famous Niemoller poem about the Nazis, saying, first they came for the labor unions.  I was not one.  I did not speak up, et cetera, et cetera.

 

The Nazis killed 12 million people.  It seems a little extreme and perhaps even a lot desperate to compare Donald Trump to the Nazis.

 

KASICH:  Well, Jake, that's not what is being done here.

 

And the gentleman that you hear speaking is a former POW who feels very strongly about the United States being united.  This is a message about unite - about uniting people.

 

When you attack Hispanics, when you characterize all Muslims in a very negative way, when you insult women, we don't think that that's good.  We think, at this point in time, more than any other time, we need to have - we need to have America united.  And we need to have an American president who is going to unite us and not divide us.

 

And it's no more than that.  And any read into it more than that is certainly not what was intended or what was meant.

 

TAPPER:  On that line of criticism against the front-runner, Donald Trump, "The Washington Post" this morning in an editorial is calling for Republican leaders, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, you, to state publicly that you would never endorse or vote for Trump.

 

They feel like he is that negative an influence in American politics.  Are you willing to do that?

 

KASICH:  Jake, I signed a pledge that I would support the Republican - I think that's what we did at the first debate when we raised our hands.

 

But, look, I have to tell you, I have been - I have been all over New Hampshire.  I have had 37 town hall meetings and a zillion other meetings there.  And I believe that Donald Trump will not be the nominee.

 

I think things will settle down.  And I believe, at the end of the day - and what I have heard in New Hampshire is - is experience is what counts, somebody who has been a reformer, but somebody who has experience.

 

And I think we look for somebody at the end who knows how to land the plane.  So, I don't think we will ever get to that point.  And it's interesting "The Post" is saying that.  I mean, I don't have any comment, other than the fact that I don't think we will ever get to that point.  And I doubt that you think so either.

 

TAPPER:  Actually, the truth of the matter is, I keep being asked this by people whenever I do interviews or family members.  I see no evidence to the contrary that anyone other than Donald Trump will be the Republican Party nominee.  He keeps getting stronger.

 

In our latest poll, he's 36 percent.  Now, that's a national poll.  But - but do you just not believe these polls?

 

KASICH:  Well, Donald, first - or - I'm sorry - Jake, first of all, you know, it gets to be about who is going to vote.  You know, it's not just about what a number is today.

 

I think David Brooks wrote an interesting column in "The New York Times" where he said, you know, I went rug shopping, and I like the bright one, but when the time came to actually buy one, that's not the one I bought.

 

And so my sense is that - I mean, here, he came to Ohio, had a big crowd, thousands of people.  And 10 minutes into it, you know, the crowd was leaving.  He had about half the crowd by the end of his appearance.

 

I think people are very concerned about the current state of affairs.  They want change.  They absolutely want somebody that is going to shake it up, which I have done all of my life by balancing the federal budget and balancing the budget in Ohio.

 

But they also want somebody that has a real plan to move this country forward, both economically and, of course, in the area of national security and foreign policy.

 

So, do I believe them?  No, I - I don't necessarily believe what I see, because it's not a poll on likely voters.  And I just can tell you what I see in New Hampshire.  I'm in New Hampshire constantly.  And I am convinced that, at the end, they are going to opt for somebody who has got the experience.

 

And I think it is going to happen all throughout the country.

 

TAPPER:  I want to ask you about something that President Obama and Democrats in the Senate have been pushing for, whether or not people who are on these terror watch lists or no-fly lists should be allowed to purchase firearms or explosives.

 

A bill that would ban them was voted down Thursday in the Senate.  How would you have voted on that bill?

 

KASICH:  Well, Jake, on the no-fly list, we probably could keep them from getting guns and ought to ban them.

 

But, on the watch list, I can tell you that, even in our state, when we stop somebody, when our law enforcement stops somebody who is on the watch list, we don't tell them we're on the - they're an the watch list.

 

We want to make sure that we can exploit all the information that we can possibly get.  So, if all of the sudden, you tell everybody who is on the watch list that you can't do this or that, then guess what happens?  Then we lose our ability to track.  We lose our ability to gather information.

 

So, I think we have to be careful.  Of course, it makes common sense to say that, if you're on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to go out and get a gun, although you will be able to get it illegally.

 

But what we have to deal with is the fact that we don't want to tip somebody off that they're under - they're under review and that we could be gathering critical information to disrupt a plot.

 

I mean, all of this is about having the information to disrupt, not about - that's what - that's what the intelligence business is all about, because once it happens, we know how tragic it is.

 

So, what we have to do is make sure we do disrupt.  We just arrested somebody like three weeks ago who was in Akron who pledged loyalty to ISIS.

 

TAPPER:  Right.

 

KASICH:  We have to know who they are.  So, let's just balance this in terms of what is in the best interests of gathering intelligence and keeping us safe.

 

TAPPER:  But let me just game this out.

 

So, somebody is on the terror watch list, not the no-fly list, where they would already.  They're on the terror watch list.  And so they're being surveilled.  They go in to buy an AR-15, and you think that that person should be able to get it because you don't want to tip them off that they're on a terror watch list?

 

KASICH:  Well, what I think, Jake, is I think we have to be careful in the way we do this.

 

Look, everybody wants to get a slick little answer and 100 percent answer.  As governor of Ohio, I have to sit down with people who are very knowledgeable in a whole variety of ways.  And then we look at it.  And we try to figure out, what is the commonsense solution?

 

So, if there is a practical way to limit it, yes.  But I think we also have to weigh it off against our ability to surveil.  So, some of these things, just like the issue of encryption, for example, the technology companies are very concerned that if you give a gateway into the area of encryption, people could then - the other people could go in and begin to hack those - hack those people.

 

So, you have to sit down and you have to figure things out.  It - you know, the presidential campaigns don't always lend themselves to reasonable discussions, but, as a leader, as a CEO that has run a state, the seventh largest state in the country, you look at a problem, and you try to figure out unique ways to solve it.

 

And so this is something that has to be considered from many different sides, so we don't make a big mistake again.

 

TAPPER:  Well, I hope you found this a reasonable discussion, Governor Kasich.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

KASICH:  Very good.  Very good discussion, Jake.

 

Just, it's - things are not that simple in life.  But you know where you want to go.  Go fix it.  That's what I do in Ohio.  It's what I would do as president.

 

TAPPER:  All right, on message as you head out.

 

Thank you so much.  I really appreciate it.

 

KASICH:  Thank you.

###END INTERVIEW###

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