Ohio Governor John Kasich in Des Moines on 6/24/15.Photo credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com
Ohio Governor John Kasich in Des Moines on 6/24/15.
Photo credit: Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Ohio Governor John Kasich visited Iowa for the first time in 16 years on Wednesday. The last time he was in the Hawkeye State he was a member of Congress running for President.  Prior to giving a speech at a Greater Des Moines Partnership Luncheon he joked with reporters that last time he was in Iowa he would have had to rob a bank in order to get the media attention he received this time around.

Kasich is considering running for President and he won’t make up his mind until July, but a date has not been set yet according to his spokesperson Chris Schrimpf.  Kasich made three stops in Des Moines on Wednesday.  He is Council Bluffs today.

Half of Kasich’s speech was devoted to giving a biography.  After serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kasich said he spent 10 years in the private sector, but felt called back into service when he ran for Governor.  “I came in at just the right time,” Kasich said.  “Things couldn’t have gotten any worse.  I couldn’t screw it up.  There was no where to go, but up.”

He said Ohio was “almost dead” as they had lost 350,000 jobs, their credit was going down the drain, and their budget was 20% in the hole.  He said he applied what he learned in Washington in Ohio.  “When you see a problem go and fix it.  Don’t go checking with your friends, and don’t go doing polls and focus groups just go fix the problem,” he said.

Kasich said he’s a change agent even though he doesn’t always get the change he wants.  He said in his first term as Governor of Ohio the state’s budget went from $8 Billion in the hole to $2 Billion in the black, cut taxes by $3 Billion which he stated was the largest tax cut in America, he said they killed the death tax, he said they have helped small businesses and reduced income taxes.

Kasich went from a 28% approval rating in his first year, the worst in the nation at the time, to winning a landslide reelection campaign.

Watch his remarks here or below:

Kasich was not asked about or mentioned his support for the controversial Common Core State Standards, and his decision to expand Medicaid in his state.  During his meeting with reporters he was asked about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and the federal health care exchanges in Obamacare.

“I am a believer in traditional marriage and if the Supreme Court rules another way, they’re the court and it is the law of the land and we’ll abide by it,” Kasich st.  He said stated he supports Ohio’s marriage amendment, but pointed out the Supreme Court has not yet ruled.

Regarding Obamacare, he said he didn’t want to speculate on what his state would do if the federal exchanges were ruled unconstitutional.  He did say that his administration is working on contingency plans.

During a Q&A session after his speech, he was asked about Social Security reform.  He said that those on it or close to the eligibility age would be grandfathered in, but he noted baby boomers would have to sacrifice some.  He also noted that this can’t be accomplished without bipartisan buy-in and support.

Kasich highlighted his pragmatic approach to governance.  “You know one thing about people who run for President, did you ever notice that they make a lot of promises and they don’t keep any of them?  That’s because they propose impractical things.  So if I were to be a candidate, I’d like to stick to the fact – let’s be practical.  Let’s not make promises we can’t keep.”

Kasich said the issues he would focus on would be the Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the national debt.  Kasich called Edward Snowden a traitor, but praised U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) for the work he did on the NSA spying issue.  “He did some good things, but sometimes you don’t know if you are winning, and he was winning,” Kasich said.

Kasich was asked a question about immigration.  “Look we are not going to ship all of these people out, but they broke, they ditched the line and they are going to have to pay a penalty. And we are going to have to make sure they haven’t engaged in illegal activity, and we are going to have to protect our border.  I mean the idea that we are not protecting our border would be like me coming into your house tonight right?  You ought to control your own home, we ought to control our country.  At the same time we are not going to just take 12 million people and just say ‘you’re out of here,'” Kasich answered.  “So I think we need the Congress to work together to resolve this immigration thing, and they have got to stop fighting all the time and get something done here.  The problem when you fight all of the time nothing gets resolved.  My view is should they become citizens?  I wouldn’t favor that, but I said I wouldn’t take it off the board because if you are going to solve this problem you are going to have to get both parties involved.  You understand that one political party, in most cases, can not solve major problems. It just doesn’t work that way.”

He said on all major issues it takes bipartisanship and people need to realize people can’t be pure ideologues and partisans, they need to realize they are Americans.  “I like to say that the Republican Party is my vehicle, and not my master.  They aren’t going to tell me what to do.”

On the issue of immigration he said, “We have got to get things moving on this and we have to get it done soon.”  He outlined his steps for immigration reform – protect the border, find out who the illegal immigrants are and make them register, if they are law abiding they can stay and probably pay a penalty.

He said after all of those things we’ll be in a much better position with immigration.

Kasich received loud applause after that answer which illustrates perhaps a shift, even if it is slight, among Republicans on immigration reform.

Watch his Q&A session here or below:

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