HARWOOD: What you did on Medicaid—a lot of people in your party say, "That's growing government. That's growing entitlements."
KASICH: It's money we send from our state of Ohio to Washington that I was able to bring back. And we take that money and we use it to help the mentally ill get on their feet. Why are we putting people who have mental illness and locking them up in prison?
There are more people in the country who are sitting in jails and prisons than in psychiatric hospitals. And these are people that, you know, on the proper medication, can get their lives back. So if they're in jail, they cost us $22,500. If they get their lives back, they can do remarkable things to benefit society. I would prefer that.
If you're drug addicted—80 percent of the people in our prisons in Ohio have some sort of substance abuse. You can put them in prison, and then not treat them, and let them get out, meet the drug dealer on the corner, and end up back in prison at $22,500 a year. Or you can try to rehab them. We have found that as we treat the drug addicted in our prisons, when they come out, the recidivism rate is 10 percent, which is stunning and remarkable. Overall, we have a healthier society.
Read More10 questions for Nancy Pelosi
HARWOOD: And you think you can defend that position with Scott Walker in a debate, Ted Cruz or somebody else.
KASICH: I'm not worried about defending anything. This is what I'm for. We don't want the working poor spending all their time getting health treatment when they're sick or in the emergency room of hospitals. Because guess who pays for that? We all do. So if we can get them care and help them to stop being the working poor and to keep working, but not be poor, then we're solving a big problem. This is what I believe. It's worked in Ohio. It's pulled us together.
Republicans and Democrats, I think, fundamentally, overwhelmingly believe that we shouldn't put the mentally ill in prison. They don't think we should put the drug addicted in prison without treating them so they can get their lives back, so they don't come out and break into our homes. They don't think that we should send all the working poor into an emergency room.
So when you talk about Republicans, you've got to figure out who you're talking about. Don't define what Republicans think by just the handful of elected officials. The Republican Party is people who call themselves Republicans. There are more and more Republican governors, even when you're talking about that, who are getting their toes in the water—and some of them sneaking into the water—to do exactly what we're doing here.