February 7th, 2016
01:01 PM ET

Kasich: "so many Democrats walk up to me and say, hey, we like you, we hope you're going to be the Republican."

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Governor John Kasich (R-OH), Republican presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the New Hampshire primary and the 2016 presidential election.

 


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; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Kasich on being an establishment candidate:  “Jake, I am not in any establishment lane.  I have never been the establishment.  I'm not anti-establishment.  But look, I make the establishment very nervous.  I've always....Because I'm a change agent.” 

 

Kasich on relationship with democrats: “TAPPER:Why do you think so many conservatives look at you as not one of them] KASICH: I don't know.  It's a mystery to me.  When you've balanced as many budgets as I have, cut as much taxes, been for as much school choice, reformed welfare, end the entitlement, go through all of this, grow government at a very small amount.  I - I don't understand it, other than maybe sometimes I say we need to work together with the Democrats because I believe that everybody ought to have an opportunity to rise.  You know, the mentally ill, the drug-addicted.  I don't know, maybe that - they don't like that tone. But the only reason I said what I said is I have had so many Democrats walk up to me and say, hey, we like you, we hope you're going to be the Republican.  We're not going to vote for you in the fall, but, you know, we - we think you - you make a lot of sense.You know, look, I'm in a Republican primary, but if any - whoever is going to like me, I consider that to be a good thing.  But it shows my ability, perhaps, to reassemble that old Reagan coalition, those blue collar Democrats.  That's what my father was. So I think I might send a signal out that it's safe if you're a Democrat and you're a conservative to look at a Republican.”

 

Kasich on the New Hampshire primary:“We'll know on the 10th.  Look, we're going to do very well, Jake, because I mean you should see the army of volunteers we have.  It's just unbelievable….. I think they think that they're part of something that's different, that's bigger than themselves.  I've always had campaigns like this.  Somehow, people get revved up and they see it as something more than a campaign.  Maybe it's the positive campaign.  Maybe it's the way that I'm able to talk about economic growth and helping people. I don't know.  I - I heard, after the debate, that they took a poll and, you know, like I'd risen really dramatically among millennials, which is really cool.  I always get along with - with young people….”

 

 

Kasich on a potential Bloomberg candidacy:  “TAPPER:  You spoke highly of Mike Bloomberg this week, saying that he might be the kind of person you would like to turn around the IRS if you become president.

KASICH:  Well, I was mentioning people.  I said who could be the IRS? Somebody in the crowd squid - because my town halls are so much fun.  You know, Bloomberg.  Somebody said Mitt Romney… Bloomberg wouldn't do that…. Well, I - here's what I know.  I knew that he loves to play golf and so do I.  And if I praise him, he may take me to some of his very fancy golf courses…. I don't think he's talking about it…. think he's having fun…. I've talked to his aides.”

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST:

Let's turn back to the Republican race and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has been barnstorming the state as if it his whole life depends on it.  Maybe that's because he kind of does.

 

Kasich has said New Hampshire is the whole ball game for him and he's hoping last night's debate performance will spur him to a strong showing on Tuesday night.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

TAPPER:  Governor Kasich, thanks so much for joining us.

 

KASICH:  Glad to be here.

 

TAPPER:  So a lot of pundits seem to think that you had a good night and that Marco Rubio, who is competition in the so-called establishment lane, did not have such a good night.

 

Does that help you?

 

KASICH:  Jake, I am not in any establishment lane.  I have never been the establishment.  I'm not anti-establishment.  But look, I make the establishment very nervous.  I've always...

 

TAPPER:  Why?

 

KASICH:  Because I'm a change agent.  I always - you know, look, when - when we were reforming welfare for the poor, which I was in favor of, I said we've got to reform welfare for the rich.  I'm reforming the Pentagon when we have a Republican president.  I mean you don't do things like that.

 

I was fighting a Republican president to get to a balanced budget.

 

And look, I moved the establishment.  Newt came in, you know, he picked up on the agenda I had and we got it done.  But a lot of us, we were never - Newt was never the establishment.

 

So...

 

TAPPER:  OK.

 

KASICH:  - you know, I'm not an establishment guy.  I'm sort of in a lane of my own, as one reporter described it.

 

TAPPER:  You joked this weekend, saying, quote, "I ought to be running in a Democrat primary, I've got more Democrats for me." I know it was just a joke, but there is this ding on you, and I'm old enough to remember John Kasich, conservative Republican...

 

KASICH:  Yes.

 

TAPPER:  - in the House of Representatives.

 

Why do you think so many conservatives look at you as not one of them?

 

KASICH:  I don't know.  It's a mystery to me.  When you've balanced as many budgets as I have, cut as much taxes, been for as much school choice, reformed welfare, end the entitlement, go through all of this, grow government at a very small amount.  I - I don't understand it, other than maybe sometimes I say we need to work together with the Democrats because I believe that everybody ought to have an opportunity to rise.  You know, the mentally ill, the drug-addicted.  I don't know, maybe that - they don't like that tone.

 

But the only reason I said what I said is I have had so many Democrats walk up to me and say, hey, we like you, we hope you're going to be the Republican.  We're not going to vote for you in the fall, but, you know, we - we think you - you make a lot of sense.

 

You know, look, I'm in a Republican primary, but if any - whoever is going to like me, I consider that to be a good thing.  But it shows my ability, perhaps, to reassemble that old Reagan coalition, those blue collar Democrats.  That's what my father was.

 

So I think I might send a signal out that it's safe if you're a Democrat and you're a conservative to look at a Republican.

 

TAPPER:  So, you said on Friday that you think you're in second place here.  I know the polls are all over the map.

 

Do you think you need to finish top three in order to...

 

KASICH:  Oh, I'm not going to say exactly.  We'll know on the 10th.  Look, we're going to do very well, Jake, because I mean you should see the army of volunteers we have.  It's just unbelievable.

 

TAPPER:  What are they responding to, these volunteers?

 

What - what - what do they...

 

KASICH:  I think they think that they're part of something that's different, that's bigger than themselves.  I've always had campaigns like this.  Somehow, people get revved up and they see it as something more than a campaign.  Maybe it's the positive campaign.  Maybe it's the way that I'm able to talk about economic growth and helping people.

 

I don't know.  I - I heard, after the debate, that they took a poll and, you know, like I'd risen really dramatically among millennials, which is really cool.  I always get along with - with young people.

 

I don't know, maybe it's - I can't explain it.  And I don't want to overthink it.  I just know that when you have hundreds and hundreds of people out in the streets knocking on doors, I got to the - to the after party last night that they had for me.  It was about midnight.  And there are more than 200 people jammed inside of this room.

 

It's amazing, but I'm grateful for it.  I'm not like, you know, look, in this business, things go up, things go down.  Keep your feet on the ground.  And I've got to tell you, Jake, I - I thank the lord for every - every day.

 

TAPPER:  Let's talk about health care.

 

In your closing argument TV ad, which I've seen a number of times on TV here in New Hampshire, you describe yourself as someone who, quote, "rejected ObamaCare without leaving anyone behind."

 

You - you did expand Medicaid...

 

KASICH:  Yes, I did.

 

TAPPER:  - with ObamaCare.

 

Is - is - is your saying - is your way of saying we rejected ObamaCare without leaving anyone behind, is that what that means?

 

KASICH:  Well, no, I mean look, we rejected ObamaCare because we don't have the a state exchange.  I turned it down.  I've sued the government to get rid of ObamaCare.

 

Look, we did...

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

TAPPER:  - but you did take the Medicaid expansion.

 

KASICH:  Yes, I know but Reagan expanded Medicaid five times and when I can bring $14 billion back to our state when we're controlling the Medicaid costs - I mean my second budget, Medicaid was growing at 2.5 percent and everybody was happy.

 

And we're covering now about 400,000 people in our state.  We have more people covered that way than we have on these subsidies from ObamaCare.

 

ObamaCare is a bad program.  It doesn't control the driving costs of medicine.  It's drive - it's driven up insurance premiums by 80 percent in my state.  And it's hurting small businesses' ability to expand.

 

So what I want to do is take a few federal resources, combine it with the freed up Medicaid program, cover the working poor, but I'm driving toward a whole new health care system which we're implementing in Ohio.

 

We want to pay for low prices and high quality, below the mean, you know, below the mid-point.  If somebody charges a lot and somebody charges less, if you charge less and you - and you deliver high quality as a physician, we're going to make - give you a financial reward.

 

This is really a great big new idea.

 

TAPPER:  You will grant me that your position is a lot more complicated and nuanced than you rejected ObamaCare, which is what you say in your ads.

 

KASICH:  No.  No, I have rejected ObamaCare.  I'm not for it.  I would repeal it.  I want to get rid of it.

 

But, you know, when it comes to Medicaid, again, you - we have expanded Medicaid many times in this country and you don't have to have ObamaCare to do it.

 

TAPPER:  You spoke highly of Mike Bloomberg this week, saying that he might be the kind of person you would like to turn around the IRS if you become president.

 

KASICH:  Well, I was mentioning people.  I said who could be the IRS?

 

Somebody in the crowd squid - because my town halls are so much fun.  You know, Bloomberg.  Somebody said Mitt Romney.

 

TAPPER:  Yes.

 

KASICH:  Who knows?

 

I'm going...

 

TAPPER:  Do you...

 

KASICH:  - to have somebody who's got very high credibility...

 

TAPPER:  But...

 

KASICH:  - to clean up that organization.

 

TAPPER:  Obviously, you think he...

 

KASICH:  Bloomberg wouldn't do that.

 

TAPPER:  - you think he did a good job, though, as mayor of New York?

 

KASICH:  Well, I - here's what I know.  I knew that he loves to play golf and so do I.  And if I praise him, he may take me to some of his very fancy golf courses.

 

TAPPER:  But let me just - let me take it in a more serious direction because he's obviously talking about possibly running for president.

 

KASICH:  I don't think he's talking about it.

 

TAPPER:  Yes, he is.

 

KASICH:  I think he's having fun.

 

TAPPER:  I think he's very serious about it.

 

KASICH:  OK.

 

TAPPER:  I've talked to his aides.

 

If it came down to someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump getting the nomination, I know you think that's not going to happen, but if it came down to that versus Bernie Sanders versus Mike Bloomberg...

 

KASICH:  I'm a Republican, Jake.

 

TAPPER:  Would it give you a moment of pause, at least?

 

KASICH:  No, I'm going to - I'm a Republican.  You know, you notice I think Donald's calmed down a little bit and, you know, look, I'm a Republican.  But we've got a long way to go.  And I really do believe we come out of here strong.  When I look at what's there, how we did last night, the building of the grassroots, I think I will be the nominee.

 

TAPPER:  Last question, has this experience, running for president, changed you in any way?

 

KASICH:  Yes.

 

TAPPER:  How?

 

KASICH:  It's forced me to slow down even more and listen to people.  I mean, Jake, one of the most amazing things about the town halls is people have come and they talk about excruciating stories of their kids, their own problems.  They cry.  They tell me sometimes in front of other people, sometimes privately.  And I've learned something really, really important.  And that is, I think people - too many people have nowhere to go.  No one listens to them.  No one - no one celebrates when they win and no one cries when they lose.

 

This has been a very important lesson.

 

So my life, I have to - I'm slowing down and I'm asking everybody else to think about their neighbor and their family.  I mean it's been pretty amazing.  This has been all good.

 

TAPPER:  All right, Governor John Kasich, we'll see you on the campaign trail.

 

Good luck on Tuesday.

 

KASICH:  Thank you.

 

TAPPER:  Thanks for being here.

 

KASICH:  Thank you.

 

TAPPER:  We really appreciate it.

 

(END VIDEO TAPE)

 

###END INTERVIEW###

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