Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is pushing back on reports that he'd said Obamacare was here to stay, saying Monday night that he opposes the federal health-care law and believes it could be repealed and replaced under a Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress.
"I don't back Obamacare. I never have. I want it to be repealed," he told The Washington Post in a telephone interview.
Kasich added, "If the House and the Senate [are Republican-controlled] and we have a Republican president, Obamacare will be repealed flat out. Flat out. And it will be replaced."
The Republican's remarks came after the Associated Press reported earlier Monday that the governor said he did not think the health-care law could be repealed. Kasich and his spokesman denied that the governor was referring to the Affordable Care Act. He was talking about Medicaid expansion, they said.
The AP published an updated story that said "Kasich called The Associated Press Monday night to clarify that he was speaking specifically about a repeal of Medicaid expansion and not of the entire Affordable Care Act -- although opponents in Washington don't usually draw such distinctions." It had initially reported that Kasich said of repealing the health-care law, "that's not gonna happen."
Kasich, who is heavily favored to win a second term next month, opted to expand Medicaid in Ohio under Obamacare last year. He argued Monday that doesn't mean he supports the larger health-care law.
"I support covering a population of people who are drug-addicted and mentally ill. I support eliminating preexisting conditions," said Kasich. "But that doesn't have anything to do with my feeling and support to the ACA. I have been opposed to it from Day One -- on the record, off the record, any way you want to do it."
Polls show Kasich leading Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald by a wide margin. The Republican governor is also viewed as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. Many of the conservative activists he would be expected to pursue in national campaign continue to strongly oppose the health-care law.
Kasich said any attempt to suggest he does not oppose Obamacare amounts to a distortion.
"This is like a Kafka novel," said Kasich. "Somebody was trying say that I had changed my position on Obamacare. And then people were trying to say -- and we went through out here, too -- which is, 'well, because you support Medicaid expansion, you support Obamacare.' Well, you think Chris Christie supports Obamacare? You think Jan Brewer supports [it]? Of course we don't."