Ohio’s Governor John Kasich (R-OH) is a darkhorse candidate for the GOP nomination to the White House. He is popular in his purple home state and he has extensive credibility as a capable politician. He’s also well-liked in establishment circles and hasn’t completely alienated himself from conservatives (though he’s pushed them to the brink). However, Kasich simply does not have the gravitas to conquer this GOP field, especially with other capable and experienced candidates (like Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker) in the race.
But don’t tell any of that to Kasich who thinks it would be a mistake for people to underestimate him.
KASICH: I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. I’ve been very pleased with what I found out on the ground in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan. I’m in the process of accumulating resources. I hope people will help me, if they like my — sort of my unique voice in this whole thing.
And we look at organization. And so within a period of time, I will make a decision and if we meet our metrics, I’m going to move forward. I have to tell you that I’m increasingly optimistic about all of this.
And you know, Jon, I’m the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland; at the same time being in Congress, balance the budget. I was the chairman and also serving on the Defense Committee for 18 years.
So I’m pretty qualified for this kind of a job.
KARL: But there’s no question, if you got into this right now, you would be an underdog. I mean, right now, if you got in this race, you wouldn’t even qualify to be on the debate stage in your own state, that first FOX debate.
KASICH: Well, Jon, you know the way this system works. You know, you go to New Hampshire and you do well and you’re on a rocket ship. I don’t worry about process. What I’m concerned is about is can I win. And will I have the resources. And the organization. And we’re in the process of determining that. And let me tell you again that I’m very optimistic about where we’re headed.
And I don’t worry about whether they know me in Oklahoma or somewhere right now. I love Oklahoma but I love all the states. But at the end of the day, you know how the process works. It’s the early primaries that matter and that’s why I’ll be in people’s homes in New Hampshire, i hope.
KARL: Over the weekend, we saw this article in the New York Times saying that the Hillary Clinton folks fear that Marco Rubio would be their toughest competition, because it will represent a generational clash: the past and the future. You battled, you were there in the 90s. If that’s the case, don’t you kind of represent the past here?
KASICH: Well, Jon, you know what we need as a — for a president is somebody that has deep experience, both knowledge of foreign affairs and the ability to be an executive, you know, to have made decisions and to have a bottom line.
I don’t — look, I love Rubio, terrific guy. You know, they’re all out there plugging away and they’re all doing a good job. But at the end of the day we need somebody who has deep experience, executive experience who has made decisions where there is a bottom line who has a deep knowledge of foreign affairs, because it’s pretty clear that America’s position in the world is being questioned and it leaves us less secure at home. And I think that’s what we need.
And all this business about young or old — remember Ronald Reagan, he was an older dude, you remember at the time? And I think he did pretty well, because he had the experience. And that’s what really matters when you’re talking about president of the United States.
KARL: Let me ask you, we’re really out of time, but very quickly, you know, you’re from Ohio. You won big there. If you’re not the nominee, you’re going to be looked at as a possible vice presidential…
KASICH: Forget it.
KARL: Would you do it?
KASICH: Forget it.
KARL: No way?
KASICH: Forget it, Jon. I don’t play for second. If I’m in this…
KARL: I’m going to save this tape, Governor Kasich. And we’ll be back when it all happens.
Thank you very much.
KASICH: Don’t count me out, Jon.