FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Well, Governor, welcome. Thank you for joining us today.
OHIO GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, it’s an honor for me to be here.
RYAN: Delighted to have you here. This is a meeting of the Editorial Board. As discussed with your team, it’s on the record and –
KASICH: Everything’s on the record, isn’t it?
RYAN: – this morning we will make our questions as specific and concise and as clear as possible. And as we ask all of our guests, we’d ask the same in your answers.
We thought we’d go around, and although you shook hands, just the names of each person. We’ll end up with Fred, and Fred will start the conversation.
FRED HIATT, WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: You want to go around again or –
KASICH: No, no. Let’s just go.
RYAN: You remember all the names?
KASICH: I won’t remember them if we go around anyway, but –
RYAN: All right.
KASICH: Yes, I would say I did, but –
HIATT: Well, thanks for coming.
HIATT: Tell us about New York. Where did you – how did you –
KASICH: Well, look, I mean, somebody said we’re the campaign that just won’t die, you know? And we feel like as we go, we’re now more and more on our turf. I think we did, we’ve picked up we don’t know how many, three to six delegates there. I just – we didn’t want to get shut out.
We – I don’t know, I know we finished second. I think it was a strong second. And, I mean, a strong second. We didn’t – we were way ahead of Cruz, I think. I don’t – I didn’t look at any numbers, but I think he got absolutely pummeled. And I think what it’s getting – I believe what I kind of feel happening now is that I think there are people now who are now kind of in the establishment, and I think as Ruth would tell you and some of you would know, I’ve never been the big choice of the establishment. I think they look around now and go, oh, my God, does it have to be Kasich? And I think now, though, that they’re beginning to say look, let’s give the guy his due. He knows what he’s doing. He can win in the fall. And I think little by little, I kind of feel as though the momentum is coming our way. But we’ve been outspent probably 50-to-1. I mean literally 50-to-1.
So we go to New Hampshire. Nobody thought – you know, it was one week before the election. Reporter on the bus said, are you going to drop out before New Hampshire? I said that is the dumbest question I’ve ever been asked in my life.
So we finished second in New Hampshire. We get no bump. None. I thought, you know, you finish, you outperform expectations. We beat Bush and everybody else. Nothing. Okay? Then they go oh, well he’s going south. He’s going to get killed down there and the campaign will end. We go down to South Carolina. We do better than anybody thought we were going to do, but no – we got nothing. Then we go through the whole south there and we get – you know, we never thought we’d do well. Then they said, well, he’s dead. He should drop out.
Then we go to Michigan and we actually – the exit polls showed that 43 percent of the people in Michigan who were the late voters voted for me. And we finished basically second. We split the delegates and we got nothing. No attention. Then we go to – we’re in Ohio and everybody, you know, right up until the day before the election they’re like Kasich, you know, he’s losing to Trump in Ohio. He’s behind in the polls. This is probably it for him. We then win by 11 points. Nothing. Absolutely zero recognition of that win.
Then we go to Wisconsin where the talk show hosts – by the way, they run the state –
KASICH: They do. The talk show hosts are in charge of the state. They are outraged that they’re not like running the government, too. And they ran this big anti-Trump thing. And you can call Tommy Thompson. We really felt like we were connecting, but it turned into a “beat Trump.”
And then, you know, we go to New York and we’re going to win some delegates. Cruz is obliterated up there. And I just see no reason not to continue forward. Our problem always is resources, attention. We don’t get – I’m not whining about this. I’m just telling you the way we see it.
And we’re raising money and we’re just doing better. And we’re just going to keep going. And I just think the voice needs to be heard, a voice of somebody that can fix problems, that can bring people together. That’s kind of how we feel about it. I’m proud of the campaign we’re running. We’ve been on the high road and –
HIATT: But let me ask you about that, because you – I mean, you laid out that choice very starkly in your speech to the [Women’s National Republican Club].
KASICH: Yes, the two paths, which you guys covered, but nobody else did because it was policy.
HIATT: So I mean, it does sound a little bit like you’re whining about coverage.
KASICH: A little bit.
HIATT: But so, you said there it’s a choice between darkness and light and that the American people want Reagan-style leadership. In New York, which should be favorable territory, three quarters of them voted –
HIATT: — according to you, for the path of darkness. And so, why is that? What does it say about the party, or what do you —
KASICH: Well, look, I mean, I run–
HIATT: — what do you take from that?
KASICH: The last poll that we saw up there I was running five points behind Hillary. Five. Trump was getting slaughtered. I mean, you guys have been watching and girl- women here have been watching the national polls. I win in the fall every time, even in that electoral deal, and Trump gets slaughtered.
So I suppose – look, in New York, New York is — it’s Trump. I mean, that’s where he lives. Every building is named after him. I mean, there’s no surprise there to me that he would do well there. He’s kind of a phenomenon now. Okay?
Does it last? He’s not going to get to the convention with enough delegates. That’s why he’s bellyaching about the fact that the one that has the most delegates should win. We’re going to get to a convention – I’ve been saying it now for two months – and I am whining a little bit, but I got to tell you the executive from the network said it best. Trump may be bad for America, but he’s great for our profits. Okay?
I mean, I just have to tell you, I was in the media myself. They would feed me stories to have to do to get eyeballs and once in a while I’d do part of them, but I wouldn’t do them all. I think The Post has been very responsible. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal. Thank God you’re all still around, because I think you actually write stuff. You look at the electronic media today: It’s all about eyeballs. You look at the social media: It’s about how many clicks. I mean, let’s just face facts. Forget me. Take me out of it.
JO-ANN ARMAO, ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Do you regret that you didn’t speak out more forcefully against Donald Trump earlier–
ARMAO: …in the campaign?
KASICH: No, because that’s not my style. I’m not – I said the things on the issues. And when I saw him doing things that were wrong, I spoke out against him. Even in the early debate when he talked about, you know, grabbing 11 and a half million out of their homes.
Here’s another thing I would tell you. I started from – if any of you are thinking about running for president in here, if you start at zero name ID, which is what I had, zero, it was a long climb up the mountain to where I’m one of three standing. Causing a ruckus or whatever, I don’t want to do that. You know –
ARMAO: Well, the cynics would argue that people didn’t speak out because they thought Trump was going to go away and they didn’t want to alienate his supporters.
KASICH: You know, I haven’t really found the pundits to be right about one single thing. Is that why they think I didn’t do that? I mean, I’ve spoken out against more people, even in my party, than anybody that you can name. That has nothing to do with it. I don’t believe that you win an election based on – you should not win an election fundamentally based on negative. I believe that what should –
HIATT: But I just want to press you again. Why is negative doing so well in – I hear what you’re saying about the general election matchup —
HIATT: But in the primaries and the polls–
KASICH: I’ll tell you why.
KASICH: Because I believe that people are anxious about their jobs, they’re anxious about their wages and they’re anxious about their children’s future. And you can appeal to them in two different ways. You can appeal to them by driving them into the ditch or you can appeal to them by giving them a way out. A way out is not as strong as saying that everything is horrible, all we are is a bunch of losers, we have nothing, everything’s going to hell, and by the way, you have been ripped off. Okay? That’s the message.
Now, I don’t believe it prevails. I don’t believe it will prevail at the convention. I don’t believe he will get the 1,237 [delegates]. And then what do we say? See, I am a fundamental believer in ideas. If you don’t have ideas, you got nothing. And frankly, my Republican Party doesn’t like ideas. They want to be negative against things.
Now we got – we’ve had a few who have been idea people. We had Reagan. Okay, Saint Ron. We had Kemp, he was an idea guy. We had, you know, I’d say Paul. Paul is driven mostly by ideas, Paul Ryan. He likes ideas. But you talk about most of them, most of them – the party is kind of a knee jerk against. Maybe that’s how they were created. I don’t know. But for me it’s ideas that drive everything.
And if you look at Ohio, you know, we have so many ideas, new ideas, newfangled ideas in Ohio it’s unbelievable, and they’re paying off. It’s the same thing I did when I was here, whether it was reforming the Pentagon or fixing the budget. So it’s not my nature to say, okay, I’m going to smear this guy and therefore I can rise.
I also have kids who are 16 and a wife. I just said to my wife on the phone, I says, wife, this is like the campaign that won’t die. She said, yes, I wish it would.
KASICH: And everybody in the car laughed. But she doesn’t want it to die, either. But, you know, at least people can be proud of what we’re doing. And if you win, great. If you don’t win, you’ve done your best.
HIATT: And what happens to the – let me just – one last thing.
HIATT: If the party does nominate somebody who’s more in the – driving to the ditch, where do you think they go in November? And even more important, what happens after that?
KASICH: I think we’re going to get wiped out, is what I think is going to happen. I mean, they can’t win in Ohio with that message. If you can’t win in Ohio, you can’t win if you’re a Republican. I think we get wiped out. Probably lose the United States Senate, the courthouse, the state house. I mean, you have these slim majority in New York in the Senate. Probably lose the majority. I mean, that’s what will happen. And look at the negative ratings of these people.
You know, I was the most unpopular governor in America after my first year because of all the change that I brought, but a year later it all changed. They don’t have enough time to turn negatives around. So I think it’s really tough. Then after that, you know, there will be this soul searching and it will – I think then, you know, I can’t predict that. I don’t know. I don’t think it will stay negative. Then it will pick itself up, you know, and come out of the ashes.
But I’m not convinced – honestly I – we meet with delegates now. Okay? I had a meeting in Pennsylvania yesterday. I mean, I don’t know all this other delegate stuff because I don’t spend time on it. I don’t think at the end they’re going to pick somebody who’s going to pick somebody who’s going to lose in November. I just don’t believe it. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ve been wrong before. But I just think it’s very hard for them to pick somebody who they know is going down, because who’s going to be there? These are going to be people who are like, political types, they’re elected officials, they’re former elected officials, they’re ward heelers. I mean, these are not like robots. These are people who engage in politics. And I’m just not convinced they’re going to pick somebody who’s destined to lose.
RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST: Can I follow up on that, because I’m wondering as you think about the convention, what do you think about the responsibility that the party has to its voters, millions of whom have supported Donald Trump and his views and have not supported yours?
KASICH: Yes. Sure.
MARCUS: And assuming he doesn’t, as you say –
MARCUS: – assuming that he doesn’t get to 1,237, because it’s clear that a majority of supporters have supported him and that a majority of voters, even those who have not supported him, would like to see the candidate with greatest number of delegates get the nomination. That’s what they say. And so, there’s this tension between democracy and party.
MARCUS: How do you think the party should address and mediate that?
KASICH: You know, one time I made an 83 on my math test and I did better than everybody else in the class. And I asked the teacher how come I don’t have an A? And the teacher said, well, because an A is 90. And I said, “Oh, good point.” If you don’t have – if you don’t make the numbers, we don’t just like pick you. This is not a game of plurality. This is a game of hitting the mark.
Now, if he gets in there with, you know, 11 – I don’t know even know what the number – what is it, 1,237? Say he gets in with 11. Well, go get the rest of them.
MARCUS: So no, I understand that. Rules are rules, but this is a classroom –
KASICH: Yes, I know.
MARCUS: – where a majority of the students in the class have said actually we would like the 83 to be an A.
KASICH: Yes. Well, that’s called whining, just what he accused me of a few minutes ago.
MARCUS: So do you think the party should ignore the will of the voters –
KASICH: No, it’s the play by the rules. I mean, we’ve had 10 Republican conventions and 7 times the frontrunner didn’t get picked. Only 3 out of 10 times did the frontrunner get picked. I think Taft went into the convention with more. Didn’t he, Doug?
KASICH STAFFER: Yes, he did.
KASICH: And they picked Eisenhower. I mean, that seemed to work out okay. I think Eisenhower was a pretty good president. It’s – and you know what, the party – like I one time looked behind the curtain and there was nobody there. There is no kind of party.
The party is an amalgamation of all the people who’ve raised money and been involved in politics and – you know, like yesterday I was in Maryland. I think that’s where I was. I was in Maryland. So Ehrlich was there. And then there’s this guy there who’s run like a bunch of campaigns. He’s raised tons of money for Ehrlich and all. Just a regular old guy. I mean, he doesn’t – I mean, he’s the party.
This lady in Pittsburgh, Christine Toretti, she’s the party. I mean, you’re not sent – you know, and I was there in ’76, by the way, when Ford didn’t have enough votes and I actually worked at the – I was a kid. I walked in. It was just a miraculous thing. And I worked five states for Reagan. And the delegates took it very seriously. They’re like, we’re going to pick the next president. So I just don’t – I understand there’s going to be people hacked off, but not as much as you might think.
And the Trump people, by the way, they like me, because I could be a Trump person from my background. I mean, I’m a Trump kind of – I mean, first of all, there are – I’m a guy that grew up in an area where if the wind blew the wrong way, people found themselves out of work. So, you know, we never got a deal. We all got ripped off all the time. So I understand that. And that DNA that’s in me is something that I can relate to a Trump voter.
And I also don’t believe you win a Trump voter, by the way, by bashing Trump. I believe you win a Trump voter by saying, hey, I think you’re right. You know, we got problems here. Your income hasn’t gone up. You give your money to banks. You don’t get any interest. Your kid’s living in the basement. I get that. But my idea is we can fix it. These things can be fixed.
And I think we’ve overdramatized our situation. I don’t mean – I’m not being cold-hearted here, but we’ve had worse times in this country, far worse times in this country. We’d be fine. We’ll be fine if – and I’ll tell you, part of it is the spirit in people’s souls.
I don’t know how much you follow this, probably not that much, but one of my messages is, hey, you were made special. Change the world where you live. This is not about somebody coming in on some white charger from Washington to solve all your problems. The spirit of our country is in you. And that’s the danger in driving people down and driving up cynicism and getting them depressed. I mean, that doesn’t get us anywhere, in my opinion. That’s why I think the voice of something other than that needs to be heard.
CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER/COLUMNIST: So on ideas, and putting that together with your point about the causes of anxiety coming from unstable wages, unstable jobs, let’s hear your ideas on that very issue, on the issue of wage stagnation and – well, let’s just stick with wage –
KASICH: Well, okay. Our wages in Ohio are going up faster than the national average. Why? We’ve diversified our – in businesses. We have a – I’ll tell you the strongest thing we have going for us in Ohio is we’re running surpluses. You know, I privatized economic development. There’s a big idea. Okay?
Here’s what we did: When I went in as governor, I really wanted to create a private entity that would be filled with people who actually understand business. I didn’t want to run business development through the bureaucracy. So we sold $1.6 billion in bonds and we created a not-for-profit called JobsOhio. And we pay off – and we bought the liquor business. Okay? This not-for-profit bought Ohio’s liquor business. The state runs it, but they get the profits. And if there’s bigger profits than what we anticipate, then the state gets some of them.
And the bond sold very low for two reasons:
HIATT: Sounds like socialism.
LANE: I was just going to say –
KASICH: No, no. It’s just the opposite. What do you mean socialism? It’s the opposite.
HIATT: The state owns the – why does the state own the –
KASICH: No, no. The state did run – own the liquor business. It doesn’t run it anymore. Now this not-for-profit runs it. That’s not socialism.
KASICH: Socialism is the state. Okay? We don’t do that in the state anymore.
So anyway, the bonds sold for a low price. And the reason is in good times people drink and in bad times they drink more. So we know we can pay off the bonds.
Then what we did is we hired experts in business. So we have, you know, people who are medical device experts, IT experts. As I was telling him, we’ve got three investments from Amazon now. We think we may develop a cracker in the Midwest. A cracker is a big facility that cracks gas and turn into plastics. This is a company from Thailand. We’ve diversified our industry.
But if you ask those people what’s the biggest thing that works for us, they will tell you two things: One, we’re business-friendly; and two, we have balanced budgets. Economic strength.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST: On the balanced budget question, you have positioned yourself as the sole candidate of fiscal responsibility based on your record in Ohio and previously in Congress, but arguably of all of the candidates still standing you have released the least details about budgeting, about taxes. You’re the only candidate that the Tax Foundation, Tax Policy Center, Committee for a Responsible [Federal] Budget have said they can’t score your tax plan because it’s too thin on details.
KASICH: Yes. Well, let me first of all say to you I’ve only written, I don’t know, 30 budgets in my lifetime. Okay?
RAMPELL: But why not produce a plan that the American public and economists and other experts can look at and say, “Does this –
KASICH: And astrologers, too. We want them to look at it.
KASICH: Because – well, look, I mean, we’re working through it. I’ve cut taxes in Ohio. It’s not confusing. I’m going to have a 28, 25 and 10 percent rate. We’re going to have an increase in the earned income tax credit.
RAMPELL: Yes, but that doesn’t lead to surpluses. That doesn’t lead to –
KASICH: Well, you get the surpluses three ways: We don’t get to a balanced budget until year eight, and that’s how we score out.
Now, I believe it will happen before year eight. And it takes three things to really basically create economic growth: Common sense regulations so you’re not crushing small business. And by the way, that doesn’t mean no regulation. We regulate our fracking industry tougher than anybody else in the country. We just don’t overdo it.
Two, lower taxes. I’ve cut taxes in Ohio by $5 billion. When I was chairman of the Budget Committee we cut the capital gains tax and we provided a family tax credit.
And the third thing is a fiscal plan. Now, I will tell you how we’ll run the fiscal plan. And I can lay out all – you’re going to send welfare and Medicaid and, you know, this job training and all that back to the states. But the way that I would do it now is the way I’ve done it in Ohio. All my cabinet people would submit to me a budget that provides 90 percent of funding for the year before, 95 percent and flat. That’s how we do it. You go, be creative. Come with me. Give me a plan. Tell me what you want to do. If you can’t do it, I’ll find somebody else that will do it.
Now, if – it’s like our prisons. Okay? So we go – a lot of these places we’ve cut, cut, cut. We haven’t cut. We’ve redone. Like in Medicaid, you know, we have not thrown anybody off the rolls. We’ve done an incredible – I haven’t, but my people have done an incredible job on Medicaid. Went from 10.5 percent growth to 2.5 percent growth.
That’s why we expanded Medicaid, by the way. And we took no one off the rolls and all we did was fix it. We used technology, we used competition, we let Mom and Dad stay in their own home. So when you say to people who are really going to row in the same direction, “Give me a budget and tell me what you want to do that’s different” and there’s no ideas that are off the table.
And then when the prisons come in and they say, “John, I can give you a flat, I can give you a 95 percent of last year. We’ll just have everybody jumping over the wall.” And I say, well, we can’t have that, so we’re going to have to give you an increase. Okay.
So it’s not that hard to budget. Entitlements? I’ve already talked about Social Security. You’re going to have to means test it and say if you’ve had, you know, significant income over your lifetime; and we’re trying to put the details to what that number is, you’ll get Social Security. You’ll get less and people that depend on it will get what they need.
RAMPELL: So to clarify, you’re saying you would balance through spending cuts?
KASICH: No, no, no. You get it through economic growth. That’s the way you get it. Economic growth. Our tax plan, all that projects 3.9 percent economic growth. It’s not some flimsy put-together – you know, I’ll have you call – you can call our people. Fly out to Columbus and they’ll show you what we’re doing. I don’t put together smoke and mirrors. I never have in my entire career. And every time I’ve laid it down, people said it can’t be done, and it keeps getting down.
MARCUS: So can I follow up on that?
MARCUS: I understand in your revenue projections on your tax cuts that you show increased revenue of about a trillion dollars. What’s –
KASICH: No, that’s as a whole. The whole is about 900 billion, I think, is the last time I checked it.
MARCUS: What’s the static cost of your tax cuts?
KASICH: I don’t know. You’d have to ask them.
MARCUS: That’s a kind of – because you –
KASICH: Well, I think there’s some –
MARCUS: Isn’t that kind of an important number –
KASICH: Look, Ruth – let me tell you, Ruth, I have never – I have never – it’s one of the reasons why I got in trouble with conservatives – I have never operated from a – one of these dynamic models. Okay? But there’s a legitimate amount of dynamic activity. And I just don’t get beyond what I think is a legitimate pale.
MARCUS: Well, but you have a tax cut that – as far as I can see though it’s been unscoreable for the reasons that Catherine says – that most closely approximates Jeb Bush’s. Jeb Bush’s tax cut was scored on a non-dynamic basis by the Tax Policy Center as costing about $6.8 trillion.
KASICH: Yes, ours – I don’t believe ours is scored that.
MARCUS: Well, but that’s a kind of important number to know.
MARCUS: You assume that there’s revenue approaching a trillion dollars. That’s a big delta. So don’t you think that those are numbers since you’re not a “flim-flam guy” that you should be putting forward to the American people?
KASICH: Well, look, I would tell you that look at the plan and see how they project it. I believe that we have not overused dynamic scoring and I don’t – I think that what we’ve done is a set of reasonable assumptions. Now, who’s working on it? People like Kerry Knott, worked for [former congressman] Dick Armey. I mean, we got a lot of people looking at it. I mean, I’ll go back again and take – but I’m confident in it.
Our problem though is when economic growth falls off, you know, that makes it more difficult for us. But we just work at it.
MARCUS: So, but your path to balance, which doesn’t include Social Security–
MARCUS: – rests on sustained economic growth rate approaching four percent, which –
KASICH: Not quite four.
MARCUS: Approaching four percent.
MARCUS: Which has not really been seen in –
KASICH: That’s right.
MARCUS: – recent American history. So –
KASICH: You know why? Because they over-regulate, over-tax and blow up the budget.
MARCUS: So assuming, because you care a lot about fiscal responsibility, that you weren’t able to get to that, would you then set up a system where economic growth were not as robust as you imagine it to be, that there would be some reassessing of the tax cuts?
KASICH: Probably not. I don’t think so. I think that – look –
MARCUS: Well, so how is that fiscally responsible?
KASICH: Well, because let me tell you, you got to look at history, you know? I mean, you know, I understand this is – you probably don’t even like tax cuts. Okay? I understand that. I went into Ohio. We were 20 percent of our budget in the hole with an $8 billion shortfall. I said not only was I going to balance the budget, but I was going to cut taxes. And people said I was nuts. And now we’re running a $2 billion surplus and we’re up over 400,000 jobs.
If we have to – I believe that 3.9 percent growth – look, we’re not at 5 percent or 6 percent or 7 percent that the Clinton administration wanted me to accept when I was [House] Budget [committee] chairman. I said we wanted real numbers and we ended up getting to balance. And we had a $5 trillion surplus, which nobody thought we could get. And we did.
So now, I go into Ohio and I turn that whole thing around with the same kind of thing I’m talking about of coming back to Washington.
So, Ruth, here’s what I would say: Tax cuts matter because I believe they provide economic growth. I don’t think you should make numbers up. And I think you got to get to the point where you look at it – the people that have been around me for many years, we look at it and say are these assumptions reasonable? But that doesn’t mean there’s not a spending side to this.
And we’re just not going to let this thing blow up. Because if – here’s what I tell people: When the debt goes up, the jobs go down. When the debt goes down, the jobs go up. So I’ve got to get the fiscal situation in place. And the reason why I say that we will have – achieve a balanced budget sooner is because we’ve always seen it happen. When there is certainty both on the regulatory side, on the tax side and on the spending side, you basically get economic growth.
And, look, if we find out that we’re getting off the path, we’ll have to adjust. That’s what I’ve done in Ohio. We’ve always used conservative assumptions. And if you take a look at our budget, it’s about as solid a – probably the most solid budget in the country right now. So I’m not going to play around and – but these are reasonable assumptions I make.
You may not buy our assumptions; I’m cool with that, but I’m happy with them because I’m the one that has to live with them. And it’s worked out over and over and over again every time I’ve done these things. Why would I doubt myself?
LANE: I want to go back to wages because the $15 minimum wage is a hot thing around the country. You in Ohio have a slightly higher than the federal minimum wage.
KASICH: Let me go – hold on one second – let me just go back and say why I don’t I look at the static model? Because we don’t live in a static world.
MARCUS: Well, you have to look at the static –
KASICH: No, I –
MARCUS: You have to look at the static model in order to understand the hole you need to fill.
KASICH: Yes. Sure. Sure. We look at the static model, but then we assume – what do we think the real growth is going to be? I mean, do you believe in a static model? I don’t.
MARCUS: I believe in sort of looking at reasonable growth rates.
KASICH: Well, they do. They have. They’ve looked at it. You know, and I think probably – I mean, I can’t tell you exactly why the Tax Foundation doesn’t score it. I don’t know that the Tax Foundation – by the way, you know, they’re not like up on the mountain here, you know? And I deliver my stuff to the gods up on the top of this mountain and they’re somehow going to tell me whether I’m right or wrong? There has been –
RAMPELL: It’s not just the Tax Foundation.
KASICH: Who else? Cato [Institute]?
RAMPELL: The Tax Policy Center, the [Committee] for a Responsible [Federal] Budget –
KASICH: Okay. The [Committee] for a Responsible [Federal] Budget, what did they ever balance? I’m serious. I mean, what I’m saying to you is I have – I should be at least given the opportunity to be viewed as having the credibility of having done this multiple times. And because the Center for Responsible – I don’t even know who they are. Who are these people?
HIATT: No, but –
KASICH: I mean, it’s like Cato.
HIATT: But the point is that other candidates give out enough information so that the credibility can be assessed. Not just on your record, but on your program –
KASICH: Yes. Well, I know what it is.
HIATT: And you haven’t put that out.
KASICH: No, it’s 28, 25, 10 with an earned income tax credit and fewer deductions. Deductions for state and local taxes and charity. That’s what the plan is. Okay? It’s not – I mean, what more do you need? I can tell you what the rates are. I mean, what’s so difficult about this? That’s the outline of it. What else do we need? It’s like how are you going to balance the budget? What, I’m going to send you a 30-page document here that shows all the little details of this? I mean, come on.
MARCUS: You have a domestic spending flat –
KASICH: Yes, I do.
MARCUS: – for eight years. Congress, which you know better than I do, has had a hard time living with sequester for just a few years.
KASICH: Yeah, I know that.
MARCUS: How do you – what in your experience makes you think that that level of spending –
MARCUS: – which is going to really invole a lot of spending –
KASICH: Right. Because actually –
MARCUS: – over time is going to be manageable, achievable?
KASICH: Right. Well, first of all, we actually reduced discretionary spending when I was Budget chairman, and I wasn’t even president. All I was the flimsy little Budget chairman, and I got the spending down. Okay? And we also reformed the entitlement programs. Yes, of course there’s nothing happening because there’s no leadership in this town anywhere. There’s – I mean, how is it – and I got – let me give you an example.
I have now a $2 billion surplus in Ohio. Some of the people in the legislature come to me and say, “We want you to spend it.” I said we’re not spending it. Okay. “Well, no, no, we have to spend it on this.” I said send me the bill. I’ll veto it. I mean, we’re not doing that. Our $2 billion surplus is an insurance policy for economic growth in our state. It gets to be about leadership and getting people a sense of responsibility that they can – you know, we need to have the economic growth.
And so, you know, some people would come in and say all we need to do is cut taxes and we don’t need to worry about spending. I’m never said that. Never in my entire career have I ever said that. So I’m telling you we’re going to – you say we don’t have any details. I’m going to have flat discretionary spending. I’m telling you how I’m going to do it.
First of all, you think that we can’t – we’re not going to hire any new federal employees. You retire, we’re not hiring anybody. That’s it. Maybe we’ll put some technology in. I don’t know. But these are the things that we have done in the seventh largest state in the country. And it’s working.
And so, you get your – you have reasonable assumptions. You push people to reach certain goals and you have to think differently. Look, my biggest problem with the government is that it is like stuck. There’s no innovation. There’s no risk taking. There’s nothing. There’s no new ideas. Everything is the same. Business dies when they do it and government just gets, just takes on more debt.
So do I think it’s – and now, look, I’m not talking about I’m going to go to an Office of Waste, Fraud and Abuse and balance the budget. We’re going to have to change Medicare. We cannot have first dollar coverage on Medicare in your Medicare supplemental policy. You can’t have the default option on Medicare be fee for service. It’s got – you’ve got to go into coordinated care. I mean, these are the things you have to do. I’m not shying away from them. And I also think when I look at this giant bureaucracy down here – do I think that you could get people to go into these departments and streamline them and – like I’m going to kill Commerce Department. I got that outline for you. I mean, I don’t know why you don’t have an Education Department connected to a Labor Department. I mean, all these things are things that I would bring to the town.
And, Ruth, you’re right. It’s hard. It’s a really hard job. And if we got off track, I’d have to get us back on track. If I’m the president, I can’t play politics here. I mean –
HIATT: Okay. Let’s move onto some other –
KASICH: And I want to go to wages.
KASICH: So he’s on the wage issue. Look, I think the wage issue – first of all, I think the Fed in keeping zero interest rates allowed companies to buy back stock, to improve their stock price and have rich people get richer while people put their money in a bank and they got no interest. So that exacerbated the income inequality.
I happen to believe that income inequality or the lack of wage growth is related – first of all, we don’t have much economic growth. It’s the most meager recovery since World War II.
And secondly though, we’re not training people. We are not educating people for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Our K through 12 system is not responding the way it should be. It’s all about skills. Stephen Curry is going to get a billion dollars. Why? Skills. You got no skills, you get no money. It’s not complicated.
So what I believe needs to be done is a nationwide drive to connecting education to the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow. And as people get skills they move up. So I’m at this tier one auto plant in Michigan. I keep referring to this because it’s vivid in my mind. Nobody touches any steel. Everything is computerized. Their wages are up and their employment is up. And, you know, you look at – I look at advancement –
HIATT: But you said K through 12 wouldn’t be your job.
KASICH: It wouldn’t be. But as a president my job is to call these things out and to travel the country telling people where things really do work. And you – it is not my job, but it is my job to watch it and to talk to the country about it. And frankly, the reason why K through 12 is not working so great has nothing to do with the president or Washington. It has to do with school boards. And it has to do with people who don’t want to get dirty when it comes to school reform. I’ve seen it all my career.
So in Cleveland I get – the mayor of Cleveland, the business community and the head of the union comes to see me. They said we need school reform because we’re not having any more levies that the business community is going to support if we don’t have fundamental reform and we want to put this – the superintendent as the CEO and make decisions. We passed that bill.
Are they great? Not yet. Are they getting better? Absolutely.
Now, in Youngstown I had to pass this legislation – Youngstown for the last nine years had one percent of their students college-ready. One percent. They wouldn’t fix anything in Youngstown. The business community wouldn’t do anything, the political people wouldn’t do anything, the school board was ridiculous, and you got one percent of the kids – it’s a disgrace. And you know who’s left? The poorest, the minorities. And they’re like, well, you know, well, it will all work out.
So I passed a bill saying [if] you fail three years in a row, I’m going to appoint a super board over your school board and we’re going to fix this. And they fought me. They sued me. They lost in court. Now we’re going to actually be able to do this.
What we’re – we have 220,000 students in Ohio who now have this backpack. Kids that see jobs that they might want to do and how do you get one? Guidance counselors need to be raised. In higher education, I’ve told the universities when a student walks into your school, they must have an academic adviser that finds out their path to whatever it is they want and if you don’t do it, I’m not giving you another dime of capital dollars. We have to connect education to the jobs. And we don’t do it, kids don’t get the skills.
And that’s why, part of why we have a program in Ohio now on mentoring. I think we ought to have a nationwide program on mentoring where people are in the schools teaching kids about jobs. It’s all about skills. And also we have to figure out a way to provide education–
HIATT: So you’re passionate –
KASICH: – for a lifetime.
HIATT: – about this.
KASICH: I’m passionate about all this stuff.
HIATT: But you understand what the resistance is on the local level and you say as president all you can do is jawbone. Why would we think in eight years places like Youngstown are going to be very different?
KASICH: You know why, because part of the job of a president – and I said it earlier about the spirit of our country rests in us. This is why the negative “Everybody’s ripping you off” is so harmful to our country. Because I would like to think that one more time we can revive the spirit in this country where people can live a life a little bigger than themselves.
And I talk about it at every town hall. Why do you think people come and they’re crying at my town hall meetings? Why do they come and hug each other and – you see the things that happen in these meetings. You know what I tell people? The power is in you. I’ll get the economy going. I’m going to give you more of your power. You want to kill the drug problem in your neighborhood? Go do it. What are you waiting on?
Now I got to tell you, if Americans can’t figure that out, our best days are behind us. If people have given up on the ability to transform their families, their neighborhoods and their communities, what, do you think this place is going to fix it? I mean, come on. It doesn’t work that way. Government has its place, its role. You know, I’m criticized on the right because I say that. But the ultimate strength of our country lies where we live. And I just happen – that’s my view of it.
And that doesn’t mean that – you know, I’ve never understood why the president of the United States doesn’t talk from the Oval Office, right? Because he probably can’t get coverage because we got the Kardashians on somewhere. But I would use the Oval Office as a place to speak and I would travel extensively in this country. Extensively to legislatures. That’s why you have to lead.
And I’m – look, I’m a parent. I got two 16-year-old daughters. If I win this election, great. If I don’t win this election, I’m governor of Ohio for two more years and I’m out. Okay? I don’t have time for politics and I don’t have time for – I’m just telling you the way I see it. And perhaps I’m wrong, but I agree with you. See, I think we need a transformation in our schools. But as the governor there’s even – there’s severe limits as to what I can do to affect a local school board other than driving people to say, “We got to love our kids. Get uncomfortable.” And we’re seeing at places in the state. So let’s start getting things better.
STEPHEN STROMBERG, EDITORIAL WRITER: An issue on which the next – a lot of people believe the next president needs to talk a lot about is climate change. And you’ve said that we don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven, but you’ve also said that you believe we’re affecting the climate and that we need to develop all of the renewables and we need to do it in an orderly way. So does the country need a national climate policy? And if so, what exactly is the orderly way you believe the nation should follow?
KASICH: Well, you know – first of all, you know, I was on some Sunday morning show and I said “theory,” and it was all taken out of context. And I remember exactly where I was and I’m like, come on, you know, this is – Trump can say anything he wants and I say one thing and it’s like, it blows up. It’s unbelievable how it works. But it’s okay.
I do believe that we have climate change and I do believe that human beings affect it. I do. And I’m concerned about it. I mean, I just was reading and – you know, I mean, we know about the coral, you know, and the bleaching. And of course it’s a serious issue.
So what do we do about it? Well, we have a lot of the other parts of the world that’s creating – contributing a lot to this, but what do we do? Talk about Ohio. Our emissions have been reduced I think 30 percent over the last 10 years. I believe that we need to have renewables.
Now, here’s what’s happened in Ohio. The politicians set a renewable standard that couldn’t be met. So it can’t be met, so they got to buy power out of state, which drives up the cost of manufacturing, which I don’t want to do. So I told the legislature, everybody – I said, okay, we could – they wanted to reset it in lame duck. I said we’re not doing it. Then they said, okay – well, okay, then we’ll take it up in a regular session. And I had a big war with them. And they wanted to freeze all the renewables including efficiency. Okay?
Now I don’t know much about this building. I hope there’s a very high efficiency standard in this building. I don’t know whether there is or not.
The reason why we don’t use high efficiency is because it costs $5 more per window, and we just say give me the cheaper one, okay? So we’re all guilty, but I have now said to the legislature, if you do not give me a reasonable reset, I’m going back to the unreasonable goal, because we’re not going to kill renewables in my state.
I think that solar and wind, and you know of course what I’m excited about is the Tesla, only from the standpoint of battery technology. If you’re going to dig coal, you ought to clean it before you burn it. Natural gas is, you know, we’re developing it in our state.
When you get battery technology, it’s going to transform everything, because then when the wind doesn’t blow, you store energy. When the sun doesn’t shine, you store it. And I think we have to be we have to be very sensitive about it, but I think it’s a balance. Most things in life are a balance, you know? It’s like a balance: is it static or is it dynamic? There’s balance. Is it, is it, does the federal government, you know, put its thumb on the schools, or is there a way to get the schools – all this stuff is a balance, okay? Climate change: we know we have to do something about it, but what’s the balance between doing something and throwing a lot of people out of work.
STROMBERG: So again, on the federal level, what is, what is the policy?
KASICH: I think it’s, you know, I haven’t really thought that through, but I think–
STROMBERG: Well you’ve said very negative things about the Clean Power Plan, so you’ve thought a little bit –
KASICH: Oh, well that was, that’s so extreme. We can’t meet those goals. Those are absurd.
STROMBERG: Scientists actually say that those goals are rather lower than what we need to —
KASICH: Well, probably none of them that are in the Midwest. They’d throw everybody out of work, and it’s not doable, and we’d have stuff shutting down, and, you know, it’s not, that’s not going to happen.
HIATT: So what would a national policy be for you?
KASICH: Well I would not, at this point, get rid of the incentives for solar and wind. I think those are fine to be in place. I think we ought to actually have our national laboratories actually become functional. I think they ought to actually be able to produce something. I think that our, that our national laboratories ought to be business friendly.
I think that the research that can be done on that can be very, very productive. I’d like to see the battery, you know, this whole battery technology developed. So you know, you have incentives for wind, you have incentives for solar. I would not take them out. I would keep them in place.
I wouldn’t want to pick winners and losers, but I believe in basic science research, you know. I believe in the National Institutes of Health. I think they need more money. But I don’t think universities should suck the money up and use it to cover their overhead.
So I think that that there are ways in which we can work together on basic science to develop these technologies, and they’re coming. I mean look at the Tesla now. You could almost afford to buy one, right? I mean, I don’t know what they’re going to cost, but it’s like $35,000 now. I mean, I don’t think that is real, is it?
I mean, maybe you get a car, but you don’t have any windows or tires or something. But I mean, seriously, when that comes, think about the transformation of America’s energy system when we have batteries, when we can store energy. I don’t know what happens to utility companies. It changes everything. We now have distributed power.
So I think that the federal government, you know, our great universities, our national laboratories, they’ve got to be a place for fundamental and basic science research. I believe in science.
And the same is true when it comes to the National Institutes of Health. I would dramatically increase funding for the National Institutes of Health. Of course, I did it when I was Budget Chairman.
TOM TOLES, EDITORIAL CARTOONIST: Do you support a market tax on carbon?
KASICH: Probably not, probably not.
TOLES: Because doesn’t that bring the marketplace and a lot of the players into the–
KASICH: I am not big on tax increases, in case you haven’t noticed.
TOLES: I know, but doesn’t it get to the problem in a significant way?
KASICH: No. I think that reasonable regulations around emissions are fine.
STROMBERG: So the economists are wrong on this, then?
KASICH: Well, which economists?
STROMBERG: Essentially all of them.
KASICH: Well no, I can get you an economist out of Ohio University, and he wouldn’t agree with these economists.
STROMBERG: If you had a carbon tax that was fully offset with a tax cut somewhere else —
KASICH: You know, look, I am not going to get into that. I don’t think so, and you know, all economists, is that like all pollsters? Is that like all pundits? I mean who are these people, you know?
RYAN: Let me ask you something–
KASICH: But I am in agreement with you that we got a problem. I agree, and I’m pursuing what I think is a reasonable solution.
I’ll give you another example. We talk about the environment. I had a war with my Republican legislature over water takes out of Lake Erie. Every single Republican voted for the water outtake plan. I vetoed the bill. We’ve spent now $2 or $3 billion on our waterways in Ohio.
We just had a war with the farmers and the environmentalists on getting them together, because I was going to declare it a distressed water area, because we don’t want to put manure on frozen ground. That’s what leads to these problems of algae blooms.
So look, I have been very – if you call the NRDC, I get along with them great. So you know, it’s just an approach that I think represents balance and progress.
But the Clean Power Plan, that whole, you know, that’s like New York, that’s the East Coast and that’s the West Coast against the Midwest. I don’t notice them doing a whole bunch of stuff.
So you know, I just think it’s about bringing the country together realizing we’ve got problems with climate. And let’s look at all the possible things that we can do that make sense that can balance a good environment with economic growth. That’s what I would tell you.
RYAN: Let me ask you –
KASICH: And my mind is open. Somebody comes to me and says, you know, some bunch of economists or scientists that say, “Look, this is a problem” — of course I’d listen to them. I’d listen to them. Let’s figure out what we do. Let me just tell you one other –
RYAN: Can I ask you one thing? We talked about this a lot. You’re talking about balancing interests.
RYAN: One thing you’ve talked about a couple times is this question of encryption, access, keys to encrypted technologies, and obviously there’s balancing interests, right? There’s law enforcement interests and there’s privacy and security.
You’ve described that as a big problem. You’ve also said that creating a backdoor opens up a possibility for criminals to be able to use it. Several months have passed – this was back in December – several months have passed. Both sides have made their cases pretty clearly. This doesn’t seem to be one that people feel that there is a middle ground
KASICH: I think it’s resolved.
RYAN: Well, how would you resolve it?
KASICH: Well, no, I think it is resolved.
HIATT: With that one phone it’s resolved, but they’re fighting others.
KASICH: But look, let me tell you the way I see this. First of all, I don’t think – if I were president, what would I do?
KASICH: I’d lock them in a room and they’d never come out until they had a solution.
RYAN: But isn’t that just kicking the can down the road?
RYAN: I mean, this is not one where there’s this middle path to be found, is there?
KASICH: No, look, here’s the thing, let me tell you. I’ve got friends on the board of In-Q-Tel, he runs Kleiner Perkins, Ted Schlein. Some of you have seen him testify, okay? He’s a software security expert. He is very concerned about the issue of encryption. He and I talk about this.
And I think, as he says, the less we talk about it, the better. Let us work it out. And we don’t have to talk in public about how we work it out. We have to talk about it in such a way – see, the problem is, it’s like when you write a law on this, there is, it’s very difficult according to people I’ve talked to write the law and get it exactly right.
I don’t like the fact, even though I hate these drug dealers, I don’t like the fact that they’re now going to start breaking into the phone on drug cases. I don’t want the government having all this. I don’t want them having a master key to every room in a big hotel. Tell me what you need.
So here is what I would say to you, as the president, you know, and I was in the debate, I said I’d rather not discuss this here, okay? As the president, I believe there is a solution when you bring both the intelligence community and the technology community together and you get the best minds in a room and you fix it, you work it out, and then you can get to the point where perhaps you can have legislation.
It is not useful in, for the security interests of our country to have front page stories and court cases on this subject in my opinion. At some point, you’re going to probably have to have some kind of legislation, but I don’t think it’s now.
I don’t think we, I don’t think we’ve been able to get the best minds together to figure this. Now, when I say this, you might say well where is his specific answer?
We had a problem in Ohio with race and court cases. I put a group of people together to deal with the problem of police and community. I sat them in a room, I told them what their responsibility is, and they have come back with so many unanimous recommendations it’s unbelievable.
If you can get people together – right now, we’re reforming the healthcare system. I got the insurance companies, the doctors, and the hospitals all in a room developing a brand new idea on healthcare. It is possible for leaders to be able to charge people with responsibilities and move the system in a positive way, and I’ve been able to do that.
I think it’s one of, I mean, you wouldn’t expect it from my bombast years in Washington where I was pounding on everybody, right? To a point now where I have figured out how to bring people together in a better way to provide solutions.
RYAN: This is one where the top industry leaders, starting with Tim Cook at Apple, have stated a very firm position, and the top law enforcement, Director of FBI, have stated a position. Someone has to make a choice.
KASICH: You know what?
KASICH: A lot of people say a lot of things for public consumption. It ain’t necessarily how they feel.
RYAN: Do you feel that either of those are insincere in what they’re saying?
KASICH: I think that sometimes they say things for public consumption, and I think they both know that this standoff is not acceptable.
And if I, look, sometimes when you’re a leader, you pound, you don’t want to pound people unless you really have to. If you think, there should be no doubt in this room that I would allow a tech community to just avoid responsibility when it comes to national security, but I don’t need to say that now because I know people in the Silicon Valley that know this needs to be fixed.
I mean, Ted Schlein is one of the great experts on cybersecurity, on this issue of, this issue of being able to, I forget the word, but being able to, you know, hide your stuff, encryption. And he doesn’t think this can just go away.
But what he tells me is, “Let us work this out quietly, and then we’ll come with a solution that maybe we can take to Capitol Hill that provides the clear lines.” Because I don’t want a backdoor, I don’t want the federal government snooping into everything we have, but at the same time, we know that, you know, when we get a crisis here, we’ve got to have some remedy to it.
Everything doesn’t have to be worked out in the public, although I will tell you that I have had a seminal moment: I was in New Hampshire because I’ve always been a little bothered by the issue of where you guys, you know, you want public, what is it, FOIA laws, the Freedom of Information [Act], okay?
See, politicians use freedom of information laws to go after one another. On the other hand, it’s important that the press have freedom of information. And I got kind of an awakening because I was with the people who were involved, a reporter who was involved in the Catholic Church scandal, and he claims that if it wasn’t for the freedom of information law in Florida, they may never have found out the truth. There is a case where the light went on for me, and I’m like, “Whoa whoa whoa: So all this badgering I do, this is a pretty tough issue, pretty tough issue.
See I think what’s happened, in the country, is, “I have my thing, you have your thing, you’re an idiot, you’re wrong, and screw you.” Okay, that’s where I think we’ve gone. And I think we need to get to, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Okay, I got your opinion. I got all these economists’ opinion. Can we just like sit down here? And let me learn a little bit from you, and you learn a little bit from me, and let’s put something together that’s solid.”
LEE HOCKSTADER, EDITORIAL WRITER: You mentioned your bombast years in Washington, and during those bombast years, one of the things you were bombastic about was favoring a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.
HOCKSTADER: You’ve changed on that completely.
KASICH: I don’t know why I signed – and look–
HOCKSTADER: And one thing that you’ve said to the Columbus Dispatch was that you’ve changed because you said you’ve grown up in this job, talking about being governor of Ohio, and that you’re not the man you used to be. What was the
KASICH: No, I am the man I used to be. It’s just like, I mean, birthright citizenship, I probably signed onto some bill. It’s like, who cares? You’re a congressman. Sometimes you sign on, you’ve got all this stuff coming across your desk, let’s not get over serious about this. It never passed. So you know–
HOCKSTADER: But you’ve changed 180 degrees. What made you–?
KASICH: Look, back then, I didn’t understand probably the implications of birthright citizens. Somebody probably walked up to me on the floor and said, “How about putting your name on this?” I said, “Oh, sure, you’ll vote for my budget?” I mean, you know, don’t get all carried —
HOCKSTADER: And more broadly on immigration, you’ve changed completely.
KASICH: No, no I haven’t, I voted for the ’86 Reagan bill. I voted for it. I haven’t had any dramatic change on it. Look, I’ve been saying–
HOCKSTADER: You’ve said you didn’t want to do anything for illegal immigrants, and now you say that you’re in favor of–
KASICH: Where did I say this?
HOCKSTADER: …a path to legalization.
KASICH: Where did I say this?
HOCKSTADER: Columbus Dispatch.
KASICH: Columbus Dispatch when?
HOCKSTADER: 2014, in November.
KASICH: Yeah, but no, when did I change, when was I changing my position on illegals? When did it change? I don’t remember anything changing.
HOCKSTADER: Karen has a specific one where you changed that she’s interested in.
KASICH: I can change. Yes, Karen?
KAREN ATTIAH, DEPUTY DIGITAL OPINIONS EDITOR: Sure, so another issue where you’ve changed is on the issue —
KASICH: Well we haven’t finished this issue yet.
ATTIAH: Well but similar to immigration and people coming into the United States, on the issue of Syrian refugees, you’re part of a large number of governors that–
KASICH: I changed.
ATTIAH: Yes, you changed. Is it still your position that–
KASICH: Yeah, until we can vet them appropriately, and you know, when the FBI Director is saying we can’t figure out who they are, I think that is legitimate. And when I heard it from [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper and all these other people, so take a pause. But I’m not anti-immigration. And by the way, I never–
KASICH: But what?
ATTIAH: Well, but so currently, the way that the refugee resettlement process works, it’s a long process, it’s one of the most extensive processes in the world.
KASICH: No, I have heard all that.
ATTIAH: Sure. So what part of the process from the U.S. taking recommendations from UNHCR to the referrals to the Department of Homeland Security, what point in the process needs to be tweaked in your opinion in order to–
KASICH: I am not an expert. All I know is when I have security people telling me we can’t vet these people, then I think we need to take a breath, period, okay?
ATTIAH: And so you’ve spoken also a lot about values
KASICH: Yes, but can I go back to this?
ATTIAH: I just wanted to know, I just wanted to know how your position on the Syrian refugee issue, which is one of the largest, the worst refugee crises in generations, how that is an example of U.S. leadership when our allies Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon are buckling under the weight of millions of refugees?
KASICH: Yes. Well, I think we have to give them money, support them. I wanted a no fly zone, which we couldn’t get, defended by the Kurds so people didn’t have to leave the country, where people could be secure. We didn’t do that. That was my first answer. And I was for the no fly zone before anybody else even talked about it, okay?
Secondly, you know, we had a red line, and we walked, I mean, the whole thing is messed up, and we’re now paying the price for a very flawed foreign policy.
Now, Jordan, they’re taking people, Lebanon is taking people. I understand exactly what’s happening. I don’t understand exactly what’s happening, but there has been a deal made with Turkey. I think it’s important that Turkey be brought into the Western sphere. I think kicking Turkey around like we have, or the president refusing to meet with the president of Turkey, even though he is not, you know, he is not George Washington, but we can meet with Castro, but we can’t meet with the head of Turkey, [it] was a terrible mistake, just like it was a terrible mistake not to meet with Netanyahu. A lot of flawed foreign policy. Now, we have taken a lot of refugees in this country, okay?
ATTIAH: Ohio has taken 76 since 2011 out of 4.8 million Syrian refugees.
HIATT: I mean, in fairness–
KASICH: We’re not out recruiting, okay? We’re not out recruiting people. We don’t have like some refugee outreach. But the people who we can identify who come into this country, we’d love young people to come to Ohio. I mean, it is good for our demographics, it’s good for our workforce, it’s good for them. Look, I am the one person that stood on the stage and said we’re not going to yank 11.5 million people out of their homes and ship them out of this country, dividing families. We have been reasonable in DAPA, okay? I mean, we’ve made reasonable approaches here. But when I’ve got the intelligence community telling all of us that we can’t tell who these people are, I have a responsibility to the public to keep them safe also. So it’s, again–
ATTIAH: But that’s frankly not true.
KASICH: Well yeah, it is true. When the head of the FBI says we can’t tell who these people are–
HIATT: No, didn’t he say, We have a good vetting process, but if you ask me to guarantee that a single mistake won’t be —
KASICH: That’s not what he — it was broader than that when he said it. It wasn’t if you ask me 100 percent, that’s not what he said. I am sorry. And I want to go back to this [immigration] question.
HOCKSTADER: You don’t want to yank 11 million people out of their homes, but you’ve supported Attorney General DeWine’s decision to join the Texas case, the effect of which would be to block Obama’s policy, which is meant not to divide families and not to remove parents out of their homes.
KASICH: Look, what I said about the Obama policies, he should have gone to the Hill and worked this out. Executive orders that go way beyond, you know, look, as the governor of my state, I have executive order authority. I try to work with my legislature so I can get along with them. I don’t believe that presidents should just flaunt the legislative process and just do everything on their own, and by the way, there is a court case right now that’s kind of coming down on that position.
But let’s go back to what you asked me. You said that I changed my position on illegals. I have not. I may have changed my position on, you know, some on birthright citizenship
HOCKSTADER: Well, you were quoted as saying in 2010, when you ran for governor of Ohio you didn’t want to do anything for the illegals.
KASICH: I didn’t say I wouldn’t do anything for the illegals. What are you talking about?
JAMES DOWNIE, DIGITAL OPINIONS EDITOR: You said, “One thing that I don’t want to reward is illegal immigration.”
KASICH: Well, I don’t want to reward–
HOCKSTADER: Thank you, that’s the exact–
KASICH: …illegal immigration, of course. We don’t, you think I should reward illegal immigration?
DOWNIE: No, but–
KASICH: I don’t think so.
HOCKSTADER: Well, putting–
DOWNIE: But you talk now about a path to citizenship.
KASICH: No, a path to legalization.
DOWNIE: Path to legalization.
KASICH: I don’t want to reward people coming in. Why would I want to reward illegal behavior? You’re not for it.
DOWNIE: But you were asked how you changed your position.
KASICH: But I didn’t change my position. He said you’re not for giving illegals anything. I am not for giving them benefits. But I’m not for shipping them out of the country. I mean, I am not going to be rewarding illegality, but the fact is that the ones that are here illegally now, if they have not committed a crime, I have been the one to say that they ought to have a path to legalization. Paying a fine, some back taxes. I’m not changing any position on that.
And once they get to legalization, when they can acquire benefits? I am not sure. I have not made a determination on that. But what I know is I have to balance that off against the people that go to work every day working two jobs who are struggling, because I go to town hall meetings where people say I was in, where was it, Utica, the other day, no, it was Rochester.
You know, there’s guys like, “You know, I’m working, and they’re all coming in, and they’re all getting these benefits,” and I say, “Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute. Let’s slow down here on all these assumptions.”
See, I don’t, I am not taking the bait on everything. My job is to be a solid leader. My job is to measure the things that I think will benefit my people in my state and the people of this country, and so and when I talked about bombast before, let me tell you what I mean about that.
When I was in Washington, if I had not raised hell about balancing the budget or reforming the Pentagon or stopping the B-2 [stealth bomber], none of it would have happened, because I was a congressman.
As a president, it’s different. As an executive, it’s different than it is when you’re a legislator. But yes, I had to raise Cain when I was here. I had to raise Cain inside my own party to make sure that our children’s hospitals could get more money. I had to raise Cain about, you remember corporate welfare? That made everybody thrilled.
How about my working on the B-2? How do you think that went down with a Republican president, a Republican administration? I had to do those things. If I hadn’t done them, they would not have happened.
So now look, if you want to say to me, John, you’ve changed your mind on something, I’m not above saying you’re right. I can change my mind. Just like I told him, you get the economists in here, whoever these people are, and they prove something to me, I am cool with that. This is not it has to be my way. But I have strong opinions. But I am open to change.
And the birthright citizenship, you know, look, somebody comes up to you let’s talk about that for a second somebody comes up to you and says well you know, somebody should not fly into the country, have a baby, become a citizen, what year was it, 1987 or something? I go, “Yeah, yeah, you’re probably right about that. How about signing onto this bill?”
I remember having one of my colleagues come to me and tell me, “We need to extend the patent for this drug, okay?” It’s a friend of mine from New Jersey. And I’m like, “Oh really? What is it?” He said “Zyrtec.” I said no, okay? I mean, Zyrtec, I could have just signed the thing. It’s Congress, okay? It’s Congress. It works fast. There’s all these papers, okay?
But when it gets right down to it–
ARMAO: Congress works fast?
KASICH: Well, you know what I’m talking about, all these papers, and you sign all these letters, and you’re on this, and you’re on that.
And you know, all I am saying to you is let’s not make more, if I read that some congressman said x, or I read that the guy at Apple says x, do I take that to the bank? No, I really don’t. And I got the scent of it, but you know what, I’m not going to get all worked up about it.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Governor?
HIATT: We’ll make this the last
KASICH: Really? I am enjoying this.
HIATT: All right, we’ll keep going.
CAPEHART: When you, Governor, when you hear the phrase “Black lives matter,” what do you hear?
KASICH: Well, what I hear is that there are people that are in this country who think the system not only not only doesn’t work for them, but it works against them, okay? And what I’ve done is I’ve addressed these race issues in the state.
I mean, I put a team together to do it. So here’s what happened. I had these legislators, and one of them is Nina Turner, who you may know, you see her. She’s an African American. I hope she’s going to be Mayor of Cleveland someday.
She came with a couple other ladies, and they said look, we got a lot of tough decisions coming down, because you know we had the case where the people were shot, they shot into a car 147 times, and they said, “We’ve got to do something about this, and I want to have a commission.”
And I said, “No, no, no, no, we’re not going to have a commission. You have a commission, you study it, and then you put the stuff on the shelf. Why don’t we have a task force, and we’ll announce it tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” they’re like, “really?”
I said, “Yeah. And you’ll be the co-chairperson of it.”
I said, “Yeah. And we’ll get our highway patrol guy, who is public safety, he’ll be the other co-chair. You have a son who is a police officer.”
She says, “Yeah, I do.”
I said, “Okay, great, we’ll have a commission. We’ll get community people. We’ll get, you know, urban experts. We’ll get law enforcement. We’ll get everybody together.”
So we announce it the next day. We assemble this thing. I think, I don’t know, 23, 25 people on it, something like that, ministers, you know, the whole thing. So they came back the second day into the Baltimore riots and they made a unanimous recommendation on the use of deadly force, and also, the hiring and recruiting processes of our police agencies. And we now have accepted all that, and we’re putting that into play, and now we’ve created an ongoing collaborative where the police understand the community, the community begins to understand the problems of the police. I think it is absolutely critical.
And we had two decisions. There was a no bill on that case. There was a no bill on Tamir Rice. We had protests. No violence. I don’t think that just comes from that, but I’m the first governor to actually talk about – “I, I, I,” you know, but let me use “I” one more time – I sort of felt that when we put into place our set aside programs in Ohio, which we did, and I voted for long ago, now that’s one I voted for, okay? I didn’t sign on anything, I voted for it. I said we should do this, we should absolutely meet our goal.
And for the first time in Ohio history in like 30 years, we are. And then I was telling my cabinet we, and in the process of this, I was telling my cabinet we need to meet these numbers because this is about entrepreneurship and opportunity for our friends in the minority community.
So one of our guys was skeptical in the highway department, and then one day on his way to Damascus, he became Paul, and he came with a plan to take this road from downtown Cleveland to the Cleveland Clinic and have a goal. You can’t have a set aside because you get sued by the Civil Rights Commission. I mean, all this stuff is nuts, okay? Have a goal of 20 percent of minority participation. Money into the community to help people that want, you know, help with their businesses a little bit. And also, I’ve made it clear I don’t want to cut them off with a road, I don’t want to isolate part of Cleveland. People are thrilled with that.
We reformed the Cleveland schools. We, our recidivism rate in our prisons is half the national average. We banned “the box” in government. All those things coming together I like to think have been a response to say everybody’s got to feel like they’re part of the system.
CAPEHART: What do you say to people in your party who wouldn’t like what you just said, who don’t think–
CAPEHART: –that there is a problem?
KASICH: What would I say? Tough. I think, look, you know what? You’re hearing a lot of people beginning to talk about we need to deal with poverty, we need to deal with criminal justice and all that. I had just a great team of people who did it, and even my conservative legislators, they’re the ones that rewrote the whole criminal justice thing. All Republicans, conservatives, it’s unbelievable. Banning the box: Can you believe that?
And it’s throughout all of government now. It’s state government, local government. It’s just really great, and I think that the message is real simple. You want to be a conservative? It means an opportunity for everybody. It doesn’t mean just some people win and other people lose. It means everybody gets a chance.
Now, I was saying last night in — where was that, Annapolis – I said look, you see a car in the ditch, you’ve put to pull it, push it out of the ditch. If the car is in the ditch every day, you kind of lose interest in it.
We’re reforming our welfare system now, and what I want on welfare is I want the businesses in the welfare office because when businesses come in the welfare office, when a person gets a check, they get trained for a job that exists, and I want one case worker in the welfare office. I don’t want somebody who is in need to have to get like ten case workers. One person.
Who is fighting me on this? The welfare bureaucracy. But our whole deal is everybody rises, everybody: the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, the developmentally disabled. Biggest increase in my budget, my last budget, was for the developmentally disabled. It passes a Republican legislature. Why? Leadership. And not just from me, but leadership throughout the government.
And that is why it’s working. You see, it’s why we’re back to this “you say this, I say that,” you know, “you are wrong, he’s a, you know, he’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican,” you know, et cetera. Calm down. That’s not the strength of our country. The strength of our country is we can disagree a little bit, but just relax, you know? Stop listening to talk radio and talk television and grow up. Relax.
CHRISTINE EMBA, EDITOR OF THE “IN THEORY” BLOG: Speaking of one thing that most people seem to agree on in our country, three quarters of the American public supports paid family leave. I mean, there’s a bill in the Ohio legislature right now. You’ve said that you are against paid family leave, and one of the things that you’ve said that would be better is teleworking, which is not really the same thing, say, in the first two weeks or two months of a baby’s life. Why do you not support it?
KASICH: Because I don’t – look, I mandated with the help of the legislature, but no one knew it, autism coverage for families in Ohio, which we’d never had.
I heard okay, all the businesses are going to get hurt, this is going to be bad for small business, they’re going to get crushed. I said I don’t believe that, tough, I’ve thought about it, I’ve looked at it, we’re doing it.
Family leave could be a burden that they simply can’t take, and I don’t want people to be out of work. Now–
EMBA: That businesses can’t take?
KASICH: Yeah, they can’t take it.
EMBA: Where would they be fleeing to, like New Guinea? Almost every other democracy has–
KASICH: No, they just would lay people off, because you impose costs on businesses, you know. Businesses have high costs, guess what they have to do? Cut their costs. That is how that works in a profit system.
If you impose too many costs on business, particularly small business, they go under, and then there’s no jobs, okay? So I am willing to look at this subject.
And you know one lady, [Ohio State Sen. Capri] Cafaro, she actually was a supporter of mine, she was a former Democrat leader of the Ohio Senate, of the Democratic Party, she said she has an idea around this that she thinks might work. I am willing to look at it. But I am not going to impose costs that I think are going to be – as with – I was home on Sunday, one of my few visits, and my wife reads in the paper that they’re going to have a $15 minimum wage. She looks at me, and she says — she’s not like into all this politics, she knows it, but she’s not into it — she’s like, how many people are going to lose their job because of a $15 minimum wage? You can’t just mandate stuff without consequences.
Now, maybe there is a way to figure this. I am open to looking at it because families get themselves in a crunch. We don’t want that to happen. But I also don’t want to have people lose their jobs.
ARMAO: I wanted to–
HIATT: No, let Jim, he’s been trying for awhile.
DOWNIE: Sorry. As governor–
KASICH: Are we all right? We need to go?
KASICH STAFFER: We need to go in eight minutes.
KASICH: Okay, good. Could I get a coffee? I think I need a little coffee. Go ahead.
KASICH: Maybe a shot of whiskey while we’re at it. Okay, Jim, go ahead.
DOWNIE: As governor, you’ve signed bills that eliminated the “Golden Week”, the week of same-day registration and absentee ballots, that limited counties to one early voting site regardless of population, and you’ve defended the law by saying that election officials have told you “we need to tighten up a bit”, yet your spokesman has said that “we haven’t had a problem with voter fraud.”
What do you mean then by tightening up a bit, and why–
KASICH: Well who is my spokesman, do you know?
DOWNIE: It was Joe Andrews.
KASICH: I don’t–
DOWNIE: He told National Journal, “We haven’t had any problem with voter fraud.”
KASICH: Well look, I would, first of all, we have more early voting than about any place in America, okay? Hillary comes out and says because of this whole — look, I am not a, I’ve got somebody here who is actually a Board of Elections official, and he can give you, he can opine on his view, because most people the Democrats and the Republicans felt as though the system needed to be tightened. I mean, that’s just the way it is in Ohio, and I can get that confirmed for you.
But we got, how many days of early voting do we have in Ohio?
KASICH STAFFER: 28.
KASICH: Okay, 28. How many do they have in New York?
KASICH: No, how many do they have in–
DOWNIE: Zero, and we’ve–
DOWNIE: …written an editorial criticizing New York, and also
KASICH: Okay. Well we got 28 days. What are we worried about?
DOWNIE: But Governor, getting an 83 is not an A. I mean, like you said…
KASICH: You know what? In this case, it is, because I am grading on the curve.
DOWNIE: Oh, okay.
KASICH: No, I’m just kidding. No, wait, are you trying to tell me that you think that we have somehow disenfranchised people because we have 28 days of early voting? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?
DOWNIE: Well, in 2012–
KASICH: No, I am just asking you a question.
DOWNIE: I am saying in 2012, 90,000 Ohioans used, took advantage of Golden Week to register and vote absentee.
KASICH: Let me ask you a question. Do you think 28 days of early voting is restrictive?
DOWNIE: That is not, that is not what the question was about.
KASICH: Well, but that’s my question to you. What is your answer to that? Is 28 days, how many other states have 28 days of early voting?
DOWNIE: But you’re the governor of Ohio, not the other states.
KASICH: I am comfortable with 28 days. I think that’s very generous, to be honest with you. I do.
HIATT: And so why make it more restrictive, even–
KASICH: Because a lot of the election officials wanted it that way.
DOWNIE: But why not give them the resources to deal with it?
KASICH: Because I think 28 days is fine.
ARMAO: I would ask a quick question that’s important to us.
ARMARO: You voted against statehood for D.C. when you were in Congress.
ARMAO: Is that still your position, and do you have–
KASICH: Yes, I would it say probably is.
ARMAO: What about voting rights in Congress, voting representatives?
KASICH: Probably not. I don’t know. I’d have to, I mean, to me, that’s just, I just don’t see that we really need that, okay? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
ARMAO: But you realize though that people in D.C. pay taxes, go to war and they have no vote in Congress.
ARMAO: How is that–
KASICH: Well look, I am not – I don’t – I am not, because you know what, what it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party. That’s what–
ARMAO: So if there were Republicans in the District, you would have a different position?
KASICH: Yeah, okay, well look, they send me a bill, I’m president of the United States, I’ll read your editorials.
HIATT: Okay! You’ve got our endorsement.
KASICH: Look, here’s what you’ve got to understand. You know what? Do you have children?
ARMAO: Yes I do.
KASICH: Okay. Here’s the thing. Now look. I appreciate, Jim, your question, okay? I am just telling you, I’m being honest with you, not take a whack at you here. I just think 28 days is fine, and you know, did we do something that was some punitive kind of thing? No.
Have people, Republicans and Democrats both at one point, said that Golden Week ought to go away? Yes. Okay? They just didn’t think it was a very effective way to make sure that the vote is secure. Okay? Now when other states get up to 28 days, then maybe we go to 29. Come on. I mean, I got Hillary Clinton whacking us on, and she was the senator from New York, okay, and they have no early voting. I mean, isn’t that a little crazy, criticizing me for 28 days when you’ve got zero?
Now let’s go to this whole thing of D.C. voting rights, okay? I don’t know. I’d have to look at it. I’ll look at your editorials, whatever. Fair is fair. You’ve got a point there.
It’s like with, you know, being a leader, an executive of a big state: Pick your battles, pick your battles. And sometimes, you know what you do as a leader? You go, you call people, and you say, “Don’t pass that. Don’t move that bill. Don’t do that, because I’m going to have to veto it. So don’t do it.”
Or, if I’m going to do an executive order, the dirty little secret on the order is you call up the legislative leaders. You say, look — I’ll give you a perfect example. It was on the issue of autism.
I said, “You guys have been fumbling around with this bill. I can take care of this in one fell swoop. What do you say?”
“Well,” one said, “I don’t know, my caucus…”
I said, “Check your caucus.” Comes back, we do it. Done. Okay?
It’s, you know, and I think the breakdown here probably for longer than the last seven years has been an inability to understand how that place works, an inability to show respect, an inability to include people. I am not telling you I got–
MARCUS: Are there people who should be included, or are citizens of the District of Columbia who do not have, who pay the same taxes as —
KASICH: Yeah, I don’t know. Ruth, I have to see why, maybe I’ll have to flip flop my position, okay? I don’t know. Let me look at it. Let me think about it.
It’s just we’re not I mean, that’s a good point. It’s kind of hard for me to argue against it. I’d have to hear what the argument is. I’ll call my friend [former Virginia congressman] Tom Davis. He’ll tell me the way to think about this.
MARCUS: I think you identified the argument.
ARMAO: He was for voting rights.
KASICH: Was he? I’ll call him, I’ll ask him.
HOCKSTADER: He suggested a[n additional] seat in Utah to balance the–
DAVID HOFFMAN, EDITORIAL WRITER: How about one more on foreign policy? Russian jets are buzzing American ships. You’re president. You get the call from your cabinet. It has happened more than once. What do you do?
KASICH: Well, the first thing you do is take a deep breath.
HOFFMAN: What’s the second?
KASICH: Determine the seriousness of it. You determine, you’ve got to have – look, to me, on foreign policy, because you know, I served on that Armed Services [committee], for 18 years, and one of the things that I’ve learned is you need traditional and untraditional advisors.
If you go with traditional, I wouldn’t do it. You’ve got to know — I’ll give you an example. I called up a former CIA official when we targeted, mis-targeted, I forget where it was, Pakistan. And I said to him, I said, should the CIA be targeting? He said no. They don’t have the capability to do targeting. It should be in the Pentagon. That guy would be an advisor to me because I need to have the unconventional.
See, I remember when we did [the] Goldwater-Nichols [Act], and I sat over in the Pentagon with, with — and I was part of that whole thing, and had all the joint chiefs tell us that Goldwater-Nichols was a disaster for the country, okay? Now I think it swung too far, by the way, but it’s — because everything here is a pendulum.
So you have to have your traditional and your untraditional, and you have to have people you trust. One of the guys I really trust is [retired Marine general and former National Security Adviser] Jim Jones. He used to work in the administration, and then they taunted him out of there. I would ask him, “What does this mean?”
HOFFMAN: So you don’t have any gut feeling about what you would do?
KASICH: Yeah, I tell you, my gut feeling is I would take a deep breath, I would call the military people around me, and then I would probably put in a call to a head of state, or I would have my secretary of state put in a call, or somebody, okay?
But these things are not unusual. These things happen, is my understanding. Now we don’t like it, we don’t like it, and there are ways in which you can communicate your dissatisfaction.
But what I would really want to communicate now is: Putin, you’re not destabilizing the Baltics. And by the way, we’re going to provide the lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainians, and don’t screw around here in Europe. Do not even try to do that.
Now that is a lot more serious to me than a couple goofy pilots flying over a ship, although it may be very serious, and I think I received some sort of a memo on it which I haven’t been able to read yet, but I think you just have to be cool in these situations.
HOFFMAN: Well, isn’t there a risk if you provide lethal weapons to the Ukrainians that Putin then can essentially escalate you with more lethal weapons?
KASICH: No, I am for doing it, period, end of story. I am giving them lethal defensive weapons if I’m president. I can get it through Congress. Yes. That is just the way it goes. I am not worried about him getting aggravated with us after he invaded the goddarned place, okay? No, I am not worried about that.
I am pleased to see that the administration is moving more heavy equipment over into Central Europe, and I’m also pleased to see that they’re doing some things in the South China Sea. I give them a compliment for doing those things.
But, you know, when it comes to that, I mean, you just you’ve got to get you’ve got to know what you can’t read a headline and try to figure it out. You’ve got to say, okay, what does this mean? How important is it? And so I’d be on the phone, or I’d have people running in the office telling me.
But when it comes to military action, you want both types. You want, you know, when I say military, you have your traditional military, you have your special forces.
Let me give you an example, let me tell you one thing that I do feel strongly about. I don’t think we ought to have an everlasting stay in Afghanistan. I think we ought to give the Afghans the airplanes that they want to provide air cover for their folks. I would use special forces or drones. I would never announce a date, but I would tell you, I don’t think we should be staying a whole lot longer in Afghanistan. Okay?
ISIS, I believe we do have to have a coalition similar to what we had in the first Gulf War. Once they’re gone, we should come home and let the parties in the Middle East draw the map.
HIATT: Well let me ask you then because a lot of people say we got in trouble because President Obama brought people home too quickly, so you defeat ISIS, as you say, you call the–
KASICH: Stabilize it, stabilize it, and then come home, yes, and let the parties in the Middle East, they’re going to redraw the map. I mean, Syria is not going to look anything like it looks now in my opinion. I don’t think Iraq will look like it looks.
I mean, the problem we have over there is you got the problem with the Kurds. Here’s what’s so amazing, right? We love the Kurds, we gave them the no fly zone to save them, which is why they love us. We have declared the PKK in Turkey as a terrorist group.
And then you have the Kurds in the northern part of Syria trying to create a federated state. This is why it is so important that we get along with Turkey.
And that is probably going to — you’re not going to have a Shia Crescent. There’s going to be something that will block Iran over there.
I mean, this is where these people in the Middle East are going to have to decide what this is going to look like. I would not want to be there. The Westerners drew the map the first time. How did it work out? Not well. So I would let them draw the map.
But anyway, back to the whole military thing. You just have to — you have to have multiple kinds of advice, and it’s up to the decision leader to decide, you know, the executive, to decide which thing we do, and that’s a matter of judgment, but only after you get a lot of advice, and diverse advice.
HIATT: Governor, the video team is hoping to get two minutes with you, so –
HIATT: Thank you so much.