Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in New Hampshire exploring a run for President, said a factor in his consideration is whether he can be a true contender this time.
He likened his run in 2000 to running into a wall and not making a dent. The Republican said the ideal nominee in 2016 will be someone who “isn’t going to play hard-core, partisan politics” and can unite the country in the “same way we’ve done it in Ohio.”
Kasich, in an interview Tuesday with the New Hampshire Union Leader, confronted two issues with sharp partisan edges for some in his party: Common Core and immigration reform.
He stood by his support for the curriculum standards, and local control.
“The states first of all set the standards,” Kasich said of Common Core. “It wasn’t Obama, or anybody else. They set the standards. The local school boards develop the curriculum to meet the standards and then they’re going to be tested as to how they’re doing. I’ve asked everybody: tell me where I’m wrong and they haven’t told me.”
Discussion on immigration reform should not begin by taking things off the table, according to Kasich.
If leaders can reach agreement to protect borders and address illegal immigration, including a path to citizenship for some in 10 years, Kasich said it is not necessarily a deal-breaker.
He spoke of the need to consider problems and practical solutions. Rounding up illegal immigrants, putting them on a bus and driving them all to the border is impractical, he said.
“Look, you just look at my career,” Kasich said. “Throughout the whole course of my career. I know how to compromise, I know how to negotiate, but I also know not how to abandon my principles in the middle of it. And we’ve got too many non-starters to solve very difficult problems in this country.”
“Being a governor, just like the mayor of Manchester, you know what, you have got to fill the potholes, you got to turn the lights on, you got to educate the kids, and ideology doesn’t do it. That doesn’t mean we abandon ideology, it doesn’t mean you abandon principle. But come on, you know. Our whole lives are steeped in reaching agreement with people we love and some who we don’t love. That’s all I’m trying to say on immigration. Put your head in the sand? Where’s that going to get you?”
Kasich, 62, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years before being elected governor of Ohio in 2011.
He spoke of plugging an $8 billion budget shortfall and reducing taxes by $3 billion in Ohio.
Kasich began Tuesday by speaking to the “Politics & Eggs” event hosted by the New England Council and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester.
“You do your job,” Kasich said about how elected leaders should focus on getting things done, and not worry about polls or the next election.
Former U.S. Sens. Judd Gregg, R-NH, and John E. Sununu, R-NH, sat at the head table as Kasich spoke. Former U.S. Reps. Dick Swett, D-NH, and Chris Shays, R-Conn., were also in the audience. He met Monday evening with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.
Kasich later Tuesday met with businesspeople in Nashua. He was also set to speak at a “Politics & Pie” event at the Snowshoe Club in Concord, sponsored by the Concord GOP and hosted by RNC members Juliana Bergeron and Steve Duprey.
The Democratic National Committee took a shot at Kasich during his visit, calling him a “Republican obstructionist before it was cool to be a Republican obstructionist.”
In the interview, and at stops Tuesday, Kasich talked about the importance of putting politics aside to get things done.
To a degree, Kasich says, some conservative Republicans may miss the point that job growth is not an end to itself. “I believe it is conservative to help the mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the working poor,” he said.
He also touted the importance of a balanced budget amendment, and a convention of states to amend the Constitution to achieve it.
“I am shocked that there are Republicans who just somehow think that this discipline is going to be imposed on Congress. It’s mind-boggling to me,” he said.