WHEN: Today, Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is expected to formally enter the Presidential race next week, will bring one of the most distinctive profiles to the contest, having expanded Medicaid under provisions of President Barack Obama's health-care law while prodding the Republican party to do more for the poor. Before winning the governorship, Kasich represented Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives. After a brief and unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, Kasich hosted a TV program for Fox News and worked as a Lehman Brothers executive. He sat down with John Harwood at the Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen in Westerville, Ohio, where he participates in a regular Bible study group.
A transcript of Speakeasy with John Harwood featuring Ohio Governor John Kasich follows. All references must be sourced to CNBC.com:
JOHN HARWOOD: When you see the Republican party, do you like what you see?
JOHN KASICH: I have my own definition of what I think we should be doing.
HARWOOD: Your line, though when you go have the conversation with Saint Peter-- he's not gonna ask you what you did to shrink government. But he is gonna ask you what you did to help the poor. That stands out in your party.
KASICH: When I look at the Old and the New Testament, there's one thing that is clear in there. It does depend on how we help people who are downtrodden, down on their luck.
HARWOOD: Well, let's talk about one specific in relation to this Saint Peter thing that you said. And that's what you did on Medicaid. People look at this and say, "Hey, he's implementing Obama's Medicaid program."
KASICH: There is no money in Washington. It's money we send from our state of Ohio to Washington that I was able to bring back to help the mentally ill get on their feet. Eighty percent of the people in our prisons in Ohio have some sort of substance abuse. As we treat the drug addicted in our prisons, when they come out, the recidivism rate is 10%. Look, there are more and more Republican governors who are getting their toes in the water, and some of 'em sneaking into the water to do exactly what we're doing here. So I just was an early mover. But the fact is, is that overall, we have a healthier society. We've been able to reform and manage our costs just about as well as anybody. But the--
HARWOOD: And you think you can defend that position when Scott Walker in a debate--
KASICH: John, I-- I-- I don't--
HARWOOD: --with Ted Cruz or somebody else--
KASICH: I-- yeah, I'm not worried about defending anything. This is what I'm for.
HARWOOD: A bunch of your colleagues have, as you have, embraced the Common Core Educational Standards. But now that some of them are in the race for president, they've flipped, and they have disavowed those.
KASICH: Well, I can't tell ya why they've done what they've done, but what I can tell you here is that we did not have the kinda high standards that I thought we needed in Ohio. We are driving high standards and then the curriculum to achieve those high standards is being driven by local school boards with parental advisory.
HARWOOD: And you're not backin' off that?
KASICH: No, I'm not backin' off. Why would I back off high standards and local control? I-- I-- what else would I be for?
HARWOOD: On a national basis which party do you think right now has more of a reputation as a problem-solving party?
KASICH: I would say that Republicans have just got control. And they're beginning to move some things forward.
HARWOOD: The reason I ask was I thought one of the points you were trying to make was that you wanted it to change. I've seen you-- say, you know, "The party's my vehicle, it's not the master"--
KASICH: Yeah, right, that's why these questions--
HARWOOD: And that you've said-- you've sort of
HARWOOD: --are I want to-- I want to-- have an opportunity to define what conservativism is.
KASICH: You know, sometimes people say, "Well, you know, Kasich's not a conservative." Okay? Well, balanced budgets, cut taxes by more than anybody in the country, have a history of doing that. But yet, you know, I also think that we have to reach out to people who live in the shadows. Sometimes I don't know that-- I don't know that everybody gets it. Change is difficult. It always is. But I think the most exhilarating part of life is the ability to have a vision for change, and then carry it out and let the chips fall where they may.
HARWOOD: Governor, thanks for talking. It was fun.
KASICH: Enjoyed being with you. Thank you. It was very good.
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