Ohio’s governor is in Iowa today, touting himself as a “change agent” and signaling he may jump into the Republican presidential race.
John Kasich ran for president once before, when he was an Ohio congressman, leading the House Budget Committee, but he dropped out of the race in mid-1999. Kasich told reporters in Des Moines today that he won’t run for president in 2016 unless his staff’s analysis of the “metrics” of his fundraising potential and his capacity to organize an effective campaign make sense.
“We are a very disciplined group. Some people try to say I’m not a disciplined guy. Well, you can’t balance federal budgets, change things in the Pentagon and fix Ohio if you don’t have discipline and it’s now reflected in the way we look at the campaign,” Kasich said. “I will not do this if I don’t think I can win.”
Kasich won a seat in Ohio’s legislature when he was 26 years old. Kasich was elected to congress when he was 30 years old.
“(In) my life, I’ve been struck by lightning many, many times,” Kasich said.
He’s now 63 and he’s been Ohio’s governor since 2011. Kasich spoke to about 200 people gathered over the noon-hour in the State Historical Building. He reviewed his work as a chief executive in Ohio, citing things like criminal justice reform and how he has addressed various environmental problems in Ohio.
“One thing about people who run for president, did you ever notice they make a lot of promises and they don’t keep any of them?” Kasich asked the crowd. “That’s because they propose impractical things, so if I were to be a candidate I would really like to stick to the fact that let’s be practical. Let’s not make promises we can’t keep.”
AUDIO of Kasich appearance at Iowa Caucus Consortium, 46:00
Kasich has made a number of trips to the early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, but this was his first visit to Iowa in years.
“Does anybody remember me from being here?” Kasich said and the crowd applauded. “Oh, you do? I’m shocked.”
Kasich joked with reporters that he would have had to break into a store to get the media to cover his previous campaign.
“When I was here, what, 16 years ago I was kind of a kid. I was a congressman and, you know, I mean people, they said, ‘You know, we like you but could you come back, like, when you get a little older’ and so I never really kind of thought I would be back, but it’s possible,” Kasich told reporters. “We’ll let you know.”
AUDIO of Kasich news conference, 17:00
Kasich derided politicians who “put their fingers in the air” and make decisions based on public opinion. In response to an audience question, Kasich said there should be some way for undocumented immigrants who aren’t felons to pay a fine and eventually obtain legal resident status. Kasich said Social Security reform will only happen if there’s a bipartisan deal. Kasich called Edward Snowden a traitor, but he expressed concern about having the government collecting massive amounts of personal data.