Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Governor John Kasich (R-OH), GOP presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss Super Tuesday 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”
Kasich on political discourse in the election: “Jake, I have been in a lot of elections, and, you know, I have never resorted to name-calling. I mean, it’s fine to talk about, you know, a person’s record, their accomplishments, or lack thereof, but I don’t — name-calling is not how we should be picking a president. And, frankly, we’re going to look back on this time, and we’re all going to shake our heads and say, did we really degrade the process of picking the leader of the free world? And I’m very disappointed. It’s why people are passionate about my continuing forward, because they say: You’re an adult, and you’re running a positive campaign. And, frankly, I would call on everybody to start doing that and stop the name-calling. It’s just not good.”
Kasich on supporting whoever the Republican nominee will be: “I — you know, we’re down to now five people. We’re all in the arena. And I will show respect to the person that emerges from that arena. I believe it will be me. But at the end of the day, I’m going to support that person who went through the arena and became the nominee.”
Kasich on Super Tuesday: “I think Trump’s probably going to win probably all of them. But you keep holding your own and we have our campaign plan… Our campaign plan was ultimately to, you know, hold our own in some of these places, and we will, I expect. And then we’re going to head north. But at the end of the day, what changes this race is my ability to win in Ohio. And if any of these people can’t win their own states, they probably ought to get out. We ought to consolidate the race…We’re going to go to Ohio. I will win Ohio. If I don’t win Ohio, then it’s time to call it over.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And joining us now, Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Thanks so much for joining us.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: I have to ask, I know you’re good friends with Governor Chris Christie. What did you make of his endorsement of Donald Trump? He’s making the argument that it seems as though Trump is inevitable and no one else can beat Hillary Clinton, and it’s time for the party to rally around Trump.
KASICH: Well, look, you know, I like Chris. You know, I’m as friends as much as one can be with another politician, to be honest with you. I do like Chris and I like his wife, Mary Pat, and the kids. They are doing really, really well. And they’re good people.
You know, in terms of Donald Trump’s the only one that can beat Hillary, I beat Hillary by more than any other person in this race by 11 points. And, in Ohio, I go head to head with Donald Trump, I beat him by 18 points, and we’re basically running even.
And, Jake, what I tell you is I think it is critical for anybody who is left in this race to be able to win their own home state. You can’t win your home state, you need to get out. So, we’re going to go to Ohio. I will win Ohio. If I don’t win Ohio, then it’s time to call it over.
But I am going to win that state. And then it’s — you know, we’re off to the races.
TAPPER: So, Governor, Senator Marco Rubio has started saying that Donald Trump is a con artist. Do you agree?
KASICH: Jake, I have been in a lot of elections, and, you know, I have never resorted to name-calling.
I mean, it’s fine to talk about, you know, a person’s record, their accomplishments, or lack thereof, but I don’t — name-calling is not how we should be picking a president. And, frankly, we’re going to look back on this time, and we’re all going to shake our heads and say, did we really degrade the process of picking the leader of the free world?
And I’m very disappointed. It’s why people are passionate about my continuing forward, because they say: You’re an adult, and you’re running a positive campaign.
And, frankly, I would call on everybody to start doing that and stop the name-calling. It’s just not good.
TAPPER: I hear you on the name-calling, Governor, but you don’t seem to be asserting yourself when it comes to some of your rivals and why you’re better and why some of the things that they say upset you.
You did that earlier, but you haven’t really been talking much about Donald Trump and his proposals, whether it’s the Muslim ban or the things he has said about building the wall. You did months ago, but you have stopped. And I wonder if to some voters out there it might look like you’re afraid of a fight.
KASICH: No, look, I — just the other night, I stood on the stage and told my position on immigration, about how splitting families was not going to work. I have said all of these things.
But, you see, I think the way in which you beat somebody like Donald Trump is not wrestling in the mud with him, but rather talking about your record, your accomplishments and your vision. I mean, I think people get elected president on the basis of record, accomplishments and vision, not on who can shout the loudest.
TAPPER: Why would you think that’s the way to beat Donald Trump?
TAPPER: Governor, why — I mean, we have had — we have had four contests now. Why would you think that that approach is the way to beat him?
KASICH: Well, first of all, we’re following our campaign plan to right where we wanted it to be.
And, Jake, I’m the last governor standing. And we went from 16 down like four or five. I think I’m doing just fine. Most people didn’t think I would get in, and then they didn’t think I would make the debates, and then they didn’t think I would get to New Hampshire.
And then they didn’t think I would win there. Then they thought I would get 1 percent in South Carolina. I’m very happy with where we are. We have had — I had 1,000 people at Memphis, 1,000 people in Nashville coming. They’re intense. We’re grassroots people.
And we believe that when this race turns to the north, when I get to Ohio, it’s going to be a whole new game. And I’m not going to resort to name-calling. I don’t agree with Donald Trump. And, at some point, if somebody says what’s your position, the other night, I said my position on immigration is finish the wall, have a guest-worker program, and for the 11.5 million that are here, they — if they haven’t broken the law since they have been here, they will pay a fine, back taxes, but they should have a path to legalization.
Now, I don’t know that I need to get into a shouting match with somebody to prove my point. See, I think that what happened the other night in the debate, for the people out here who watch carefully, they said, he’s an adult in the room.
I’ve got it — I got it, you know, from so many quarters, it’s amazing. And you know what? I would like to be president and I’d like to raise the bar to get there. And I believe that this is the way in which to do it.
And Jake, I’ve won a lot of elections in my lifetime. And by the way, I’m beating Hillary Clinton by more than anybody else in the field. So why would I change?
TAPPER: Well, I mean, no offense, but you haven’t won a contest, and it doesn’t look like you’re going to win any on Tuesday and —
KASICH: No. I think Trump’s probably going to win probably all of them. But you keep holding your own and we have our campaign plan.
I mean, everybody has to do it the way they want to do it. Our way of doing it was —
KASICH: Our campaign plan was ultimately to, you know, hold our own in some of these places, and we will, I expect. And then we’re going to head north.
But at the end of the day, what changes this race is my ability to win in Ohio. And if any of these people can’t win their own states, they probably ought to get out. We ought to consolidate the race.
In Ohio head to head, I beat Donald Trump by 18 points. Why is that? Why is it that I’m running even with Donald Trump in Ohio without making really any real effort in Ohio?
Let me also ask you this. Why am I beating Hillary Clinton by more than any other candidate in the race? Is that because I’m not being combative enough?
TAPPER: Let’s —
KASICH: I take my positions and I have strong positions, but I’m going to run my campaign the way I want to, not the way that some pundit wants me to do it so they can get more eyeballs.
TAPPER: I hear you —
KASICH: To be honest with you, Jake.
TAPPER: I hear you, sir. That’s fine. Let’s talk about your path.
Former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg told the “New York Times” your emissaries sketched out an outcome in which you end up hypothetically with the second highest delegate count going into the (ph) convention (ph) and then you dig in there at the convention to compete with Trump. Are you OK with the scenario in which primary voters choose one candidate by a plurality and party leaders nominate someone else at the convention?
KASICH: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I mean, I love Judd Gregg. He’s one of, you know, he’s one of my favorite people who served in the Congress with me, but he’s not exactly in our inner circle and you know that. I mean, there’s always a scenario of a chance of a brokered convention, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. And I think after Ohio, we’re going to have a whole new race.
And look, Jake, let’s be honest about this. The media from the day I got in this thing has been skeptical and announcing, you know, I wasn’t going to win. Remember I went to a breakfast and I said, if I get smoked in New Hampshire — and they’re, like, oh, he’s on death watch, you know. And then we finish second and then all of a sudden I got some attention. For the first time since I’ve been in this race, people are beginning to hear my message. And I’m going to keep speaking it. And I’m going to stay as positive as I can.
Now, if somebody wants to come and attack me, I’m not going to take anything from them. You know, Jeb tried to say stuff about my Medicaid record or my record in Ohio. And I told him he’s wrong. But I am not going to get down in the mud.
I believe you win elections with accomplishments and vision. That’s how I do it. Now, if I’m wrong, I’ll admit that I’m wrong. But you wait and see what happens in Ohio.
TAPPER: That’s fair, but there are a lot of Republicans, as you know, who are very alarmed by the idea that Donald Trump could get the nomination. The hashtag on Twitter #nevertrump — never Trump exploded this weekend on Twitter. Marco Rubio used that hashtag. And you know, the hashtag means they will not vote for Donald Trump even if he is the nominee.
Just to be clear, if trump’s the nominee, you’ll support him?
KASICH: I — you know, we’re down to now five people. We’re all in the arena. And I will show respect to the person that emerges from that arena. I believe it will be me. But at the end of the day, I’m going to support that person who went through the arena and became the nominee.
Now look, there’s a lot of people out there that have never been in the arena. They’ve never — they’ve never been in there. They’ve never been engaged in any battle. They sit up in the stands. And then they have a lot of opinions.
You know, I can remember — I could sit up in the stands and tell people how to play football or basketball or whatever. But you know, you really don’t know what’s going on on the field unless you’re there. And frankly, all these people that have these opinions that have never competed, hey, it’s a great thing! It’s like a spectator sport, right? It just is — it just — it doesn’t have (ph) carry (ph) credibility with me. Until you have competed, until you have been in this position, you really don’t understand what’s happening. So, look. Anybody that emerges from the arena, I’m going to be for.
TAPPER: All right. Governor John Kasich, good luck on Tuesday. We’ll see you out there on the campaign trail.
KASICH: All right, Jake. Thank you. Always a pleasure.