Nathan Congleton for MSNBC
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich participated in an MSNBC Town Hall moderated by Chuck Todd in Queens today to discuss his campaign efforts, Trump’s campaign manager’s arrest, the potential of Trump as the party nominee, criminal justice reform and more.
Watch the full town hall tonight on MSNBC tonight at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a town hall with Donald Trump and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
See below for the full rush transcript, and please note mandatory credit.
Chuck Todd is the NBC News political director, moderator of “Meet the Press,” and host of MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.”
STORY & VIDEO: Kasich Says He Would Fire Trump Campaign Manager http://goo.gl/v8eAcv
MANDATORY CREDIT: MSNBC // CHUCK TODD
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FULL RUSH TRANSCRIPT
TODD: Well good evening and welcome to another MSNBC town hall, this one with Ohio Governor John Kasich. We're here in Queens, NY at St. Helen Catholic Church. It's not far, actually, from where Donald Trump grew up. But just a single primary win so far in his home state of Ohio, Governor Kasich is playing the long game. He's looking toward a floor fight at the convention in his home state, which just happens to also be in Cleveland. But there are a lot of contests to get through. First, you got a few more months before the July convention. New York votes in less than 3 weeks. It matters. The New York primary. And the next big primary is even soon, it's Wisconsin this coming Tuesday. So, let's get started and welcome Governor John Kasich, Republican from Ohio.
TODD: Welcome to Queens. You know you're in Donald Trump's home town, home borough.
KASICH: I didn't know that. [crosstalk] If I’d known I'd studied it. I know I'm going to get some good pizza when this is over, that's what I know. That's more important.
TODD: That's the pandering we wanted to hear
KASICH: Maybe a little hot sausage while I'm at it. What do you think?
TODD: You don't use a knife and fork for your pizza right? You're gonna fold it and eat it like a, eat it like a New Yorker right?
KASICH: Come on Chuck. I grew up in Mackey’s Rocks. We didn't even have silverware.
TODD: Let me just start with a question that actually is almost the most common one I get. I bet you you get it to in private settings. What the heck is happening in the Republican Party?
KASICH: Well, look, a lot of these people that are here today, they, they think the system is ripping them off. I mean they're worried about their jobs, Chuck. They're worried about getting a wage increase. They put their money in the bank and remember you used to get interest, remember that. And now they don't give you anything. And they're worried about their kids. We got a lot of kids here today I'm told and they're worried are their kids gonna have a good America. And they're worked up about it. And then I think on top of it, there have been politicians that have promised things that they could never deliver and then of course the talk show hosts and the television pundits and all that, they drive this as well. And people are stirred up.
TODD: What's the organizing principle of the Republican Party now? Now I thought I knew what it was. I think I thought, you know, low taxes, small government, strong national defense. It doesn't feel like the organizing principle that we're seeing right now in the party.
KASICH: Well, you're seeing it out of me, I have a right to lead the party and define the party as much as anybody else. Because, what I believe... TODD: ... (INAUDIBLE) to it yet. KASICH: Yes, sure they are when they know me they do. Absolutely. But, here's the thing, I think it's really a couple of things. First of all, it's all about jobs. I mean, the only thing that matters -- the three things that matter are jobs, jobs and jobs. We don't have jobs, we don't have anything else. But, once we have economic growth, once we have jobs, then we can't leave anybody behind. The mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, the developmentally disabled, our friends in the minority community, everybody has to have a sense that they can rise. And, there's one other thing that I think is really important, especially being in a place like Queens. I mean, I don't know Queens that well, but I can sit here for two seconds and I can look in your eyes and the spirit of our country doesn't rest in Washington. The spirit of our country rests in your neighborhood. And, you -- I don't know as much as I would like to about what happened here during the flood. My understanding is this church served as a beacon for people who lost... TODD: ... Part of it was flooded as well, though. KASICH: Oh, I know. There was 10 feet of water in here according to the father that runs the school. But, everybody pulled together, right? Shoulder to the wheel. We were all connected. That's what needs to be reborn in America again. We don't need the words (ph) -- wait for some politician to fix our problems. The politicians ought to do their job, provide economic growth, protect us from, you know, these crazy people that want to kill us. But, then when we -- our schools, the poverty programs, the programs that affect people who are lonely. We're the ones that have to heal that right where we live, and we need to give people the confidence to know that they need to change the world in which they live, Chuck. You know, we're all -- it's, you know, Easter season still. I believe the Lord's given us all certain gifts, and I think we need to use those gifts to live a life bigger than ourselves and heal that part of the world in which we live. That's what I think is important. Top (ph), you know, the big wigs taking care of their jobs, and then in the neighborhoods, revitalizing and reenergizing the spirit of our country. TODD: (INAUDIBLE) campaign hasn't been defined by an issue, it's been defined by a sentiment, a culture, however you want to describe it. The issue with his campaign manager, and the charges that were filed, Ted Cruz called it -- he said, blame Trump himself, and said that, you know, he is creating an abusive culture in the campaign. You were pretty critical too saying you would have at least suspended Mr. Lewandowski... KASICH: ... Well, now I heard there's a video, I would have gotten rid of him. Period. TODD: Do you hold Trump responsible for the culture he's created at these rallies? KASICH: Here's what I know, Chuck. I've done more over 200 town hall meetings. I can walk into a room, and I can tell people about how we're going to solve problems. Recognize the frustration, but tell you how we can work our way out of it. I've done it all of my career. Or, I can walk into a room and just depress people, and make them angry, and divide them, and become bitter. It's your choice as a leader. I choose to give people hope. I think, in some cases, he's spent on -- he's driven people farther and farther into gloom and doom, and I don't think that's what a good leader does. This whole thing that we always lose? I think we're doing pretty well in America. I mean, yeah, we have our problems, but look how much longer people live. Look at the improvements in education. Look at the improvements in transportation.... TODD: ... Do you think America's already great... KASICH: ... and so many things. TODD: So, you're saying America's already great. KASICH: I think America is great. I think we have our challenges and our problems, clearly, brought about by politicians that haven't done their job, and with some people in the business world who've been greedy. I mean, there's a lot of things that are floating around out there, but does anybody deny the greatness of our country? Where would you like to live if you didn't live here? This is a great place, and we can be -- and the key though is to convince the people here that if they can live a life bigger than themselves, and I can go, and I can get the jobs going, and take care of the national security, we're going to be fantastic, and our kids are going to have a great life. I mean, what are we thinking about here? TODD: You, shall we say, have evolved when it comes to Donald Trump. And, this is the one piece of tape I have that I want to play, a compilation of what you have said about Mr. Trump, and the potential of you supporting him. Here is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Why are you comfortable with him as the -- why would you be comfortable supporting him as the nominee? KASICH: Because, we got a long way to go to the nomination. I don't believe he'll be the nominee, so if he ends up as the nominee sometimes you make it a little bit hard, but you know? I will support whoever is the Republican nominee for President. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KASICH: Well, it's tough, I mean, but he's not going to be the nominee. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KASICH: We're going to look at it every single day and we'll see what happens. We've got a long way to go, and I don't want to project that he's going to be the nominee. I don't think he will be, and if he is they'll be -- have to, I'll review it every day. TODD: I was just going to say, it sounds like it's more hesitance every day. KASICH: I said what I said, Chuck, and I'm done talking about this subject. (END VIDEO CLIP) (CROSSTALK) KASICH: This is getting very boring. TODD: Well, guess what? Forty-eight -- Sunday you said one thing, 48 hours later you said -- you called his campaign -- his foreign policy ridiculous, his rhetoric incendiary. I can't imagine you ever supporting somebody you thought was incendiary, or ridiculous. (CROSSTALK) TODD: hold out that you might support him. KASICH: Here's the thing, I am Republican. We are all in the arena. There's only three of us left, but anybody who got in the -- I mean, it's not easy running for president. I can tell you. I mean, it's great, my Dad was a mailman, I'm sitting here with Chuck Todd in Queens. It's fantastic, OK? But, I mean, Trump's in the arena with me, and sometimes it's a roller coaster is the way I see him. Sometimes he calms down. In the last debate we had he was very calm. And, then these crazy things start happening, and it's not just him, but you know? Look at Cruz. He says we should patrol Muslim neighborhoods. I mean, this is very disturbing to me because it pulls the country apart, but here's what -- I Was thinking about this today, actually, driving over here. So, I have two 16-year-old twin daughters. And, whatever I say -- if you happen to be the nominee, I would have to tell them why I would endorse him if I did. So, I said (oh) my two daughters... TODD: ... You haven't figured that out yet, have you? KASICH: I haven't. I haven't. TODD: You don't know what to tell them? KASICH: Well, I don't know what I'm going to do yet, and honestly, I don't think he's going to be the nominee and I'm going to tell you why. Because nobody's going to have enough delegates to go to the convention. And, when we get to the convention people are going to think about two things, who can win in the fall, because he can't. And, secondly, who could actually be a good president. I mean, that's a crazy thing to think about, who could actually run the country? TODD: The fact that you can actually... KASICH: ... You can laugh. What do they tell you not to say anything? (LAUGHTER) TODD: The fact that you said you can't -- you don't know what to tell your daughters yet, do you think he's sexist? Misogynist... KASICH: ... Look, I'm not going there. TODD: ... Or, do you just think it's his bad rap (ph)? KASICH: I'm just not going there. TODD: Then why did you say daughters? Why does it say to you two daughters because (INAUDIBLE)... KASICH: ... Because if they were my two sons, it wouldn't have been -- I have daughters. (LAUGHTER) TODD: No, and I just asked you because a lot of people believe he's more anti (INAUDIBLE)... (APPLAUSE) KASICH: Chuck, we're not in a psychologistâ€™s office here. I've said what I have to say. You figure -- they pay you all this money to figure these things out. TODD: The last thing you want me to do... KASICH: ... All I want to do is tell these people... TODD: ... (INAUDIBLE) read between the lines.... KASICH: ... All I want to do is tell these people whom we can get this thing fixed, that's what I want to do. And what my record is. You know, a lot of people say, why do you always talk about your record? I'll tell you why, in this day, if a politician's lips are moving we assume they're lying. So, if I can tell you what I have done in various places, and then I tell you what I can do, you're going to have a better chance of believing me, won't you? Than, if I just tell you, hey, I'm going to give you a 10 percent flat tax, or I'm going to do this and do that, and all these other things. I can tell you what I think can be accomplished. TODD: You just brought up what Ted Cruz said about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods. And, as you know, Bill Bratton, the Commissioner of the NYPD wrote an Op-ed and he criticized what Cruz said. And, Cruz has argued he saw it was a mistake that the NYPD stopped surveying Muslims, that they were doing after 9/11. But Bratton called his quote... KASICH: ... (INAUDIBLE)... TODD: ... Well, let me tell you what Bratton said. Bratton, quote, said this, Short-sighted capitulation -- first of all, Cruz it was Short-sighted capitulation to his liberal allies at the expense of the safety and security of the people of New York. Bratton said that ending the program was a positive and necessary step. Who do you side with? KASICH: I'm a Bratton fan. Let me just tell you. Bill Bratton started in Boston. He had a hard time in Boston, right? I mean, they kicked him around, and he came up with this policing business, and he did -- he graduated from Boston, really. Did great there. Then he came to New York, and he was Giuliani's Commissioner. Then, he goes to Los Angeles. He's out there dealing with the gangs. When I was first governor I called him. He didn't know me, I said, Sir, I'm an elected governor of Ohio, and tell me who's the best -- who would be the best person to run my prison system because you're the best in policing. And, he said, well, we don't have anybody great. Well, we do now, Garry Moore, my guy, but Bratton is a very, very smart man. Now, he's back here again, and I believe him. Look, here's the thing, Chuck, and these people can all get it. I've no question about it. If I want to find out about radicalization in the Muslim community, I don't send you. As smart a guy as you are, you aren't going to be able to find it out. TODD: You're going to call a mosque (ph)? KASICH: I've got to go somebody in the community. If I want to know about radicalization in a mosque, I got to talk to somebody who goes to the mosque. And, if I try to send you there you'd be three blocks away, and they'd say, here comes that guy from television, OK? It wouldn't work. We have the entire civilized world fighting against a small group of murderers. Our key, the key for America, and the president is to unite the civilized world, to get over the egos, the turf protection, and fight this. And, stop it now. Both killing ISIS in the Middle East, and the good intelligence that we need, and the policing that we need worldwide so we can be safe. Now, if you're going to polarize one group on a basis of religious tests, how are you going to get the information? What do you think? Am I right or wrong about that, folks? I mean I don't think there's any other way to do it. (APPLAUSE) TODD: Speaking of these folks, let's go to... KASICH: ... And, there's one other thing about this... TODD: ... All right, go ahead, and then we want to get down to the question (ph)... KASICH: ... Doubling down -- look, the easiest (ph) people attacking the world today are the Muslims, right? Attack them. I mean, then I can be popular. I mean, that's not what a leader does. Sometimes a leader has to say, hey, folks, let's calm down. Let's be smart about this because it's our families, our neighborhoods, our civilization that's at stake. See, you know the greatest thing about my running for president is? I am free. People say, what does that mean? I'm having the time of my life, and I get to say what I really believe based on all the experience I've had throughout my lifetime to be a good leader. So, if I don't get your vote -- I want it, but if I don't get it, that's cool because you don't want me telling you something that isn't true, so why get your vote, and suck you into the process. Then, when I don't deliver you get bitter. I'm not going to do that. It's hard, hard to do it that way, but that's the only way I can see to be a public official. (APPLAUSE) TODD: All right, let's take some questions from them, and not me. Edwin (ph) Sullivan (ph) has the first question. Where's Mr. Sullivan here? He is right here, sorry. (CROSSTALK) UNKNOWN MALE: No, no we want to make it so you don't have that. TODD: He's a retired New York City firefighter. Mr. Sullivan, the floor is yours. QUESTION: Welcome, Governor. Best slice of pizza right down the block on your way out. (LAUGHTER) QUESTION: I'm a retired New York City firefighter, and I firmly believe that elected officials have ignored New York City for decades, unless it's been for a tragedy, or for a political fund-raiser. For example, we were a political football for the drug (ph) act, as we were for Sandy. Two issues that should have been a no-brainer. Why should we believe that you have our best interests in mind now, and not simply clamoring for votes? KASICH: Well, I'm not doing a lot of clamoring here today, but look, I mean, we're all connected. That's what I try to tell people. Things happen -- when Sandy happened here, and people lost their homes, or when we see a police officer that gets, you know, assassinated? We all die a little bit, you know? We all lose a little something. And, you know what? Not only here, but even around the world. When we see innocent people get blown up on Easter Sunday we all die a little bit, don't we? When a fireman goes into a building and loses their life, we all look at it, and we all die a little bit. So, we can all die a little bit, but we can all rise a little bit, sir. There's no way that -- I love New York. This is an incredible place. Just coming here, it's like -- it's like having a transfusion into life when you come here. This is a precious place, a precious city. It's, frankly, the apple of the world, not just of the United States. But, that's the way I feel, not just to the big towns, but to small towns as well. I mean, this is America, and we are strongest when we pull together. I think I heard the little soundbite, we should be Americans before we're Republicans and Democrats, absolutely. And, we can't have a system where we're driving people, you know? I'm a Democrat, and I hate you, and I'm a Republican, and I think you're nuts. Look, I'm a conservative, but I don't have to dislike the people that don't agree with me. So, when you talk about New York, or anywhere else, it's got to always be in the minds of a leader of this country. But, you know who it's most important in the minds of? You, as a fireman, as a policeman, as a teacher, as a nurse. Again, I want to go back. The strength of our country rests in the neighborhoods, and we can't ignore neighborhoods when they're in distress, OK? TODD: Let me ask you though, the Republican party scapegoats New York City every once in a while when they want to make a point. I think that's sort of where he was headed there... KASICH: ... No, no, who did that? TODD: Ted Cruz talked about New York Values. KASICH: OK, who else did it? KASICH: And, you have -- a lot of people, when they run in their small conservative towns... KASICH: ... I love that song by Rihanna. I mean, I wish the played it all the time. I mean, I love New York. (CROSSTALK) TODD: When you hear the phrase, "New York Values", is that a positive, or a negative... KASICH: I am the party too -- for me? I love it. My wife, I can't keep her from coming here all the time. She'll come and campaign in New York. She doesn't like to campaign -- well, she does, but when I say, "Sweetie, would you go to New York and help?" She'll be here in -- you won't be able to get rid of her. But, the fact is is that for me, it's an exciting place. I mean, think of the arts, and the music, and all the things that -- you know? Literature. I'm not pandering either, it's an incredible place. So is Columbus Ohio, come. (LAUGHTER) By the way, you know where you really want to come this summer? You want to go to Cleveland. TODD: Apparently a lot of people want to go to Cleveland. KASICH: (LAUGHING) TODD: I'm going to get a quick commercial break here, and on that note, (INAUDIBLE), we'll be right back... (APPLAUSE) TODD: And we are back. MSNBC Town Hall with Ohio Governor John Kasich. We're in St. Helen's Church here in Queens, Howard Beach neighborhood. Let's go to the questions. Governor, it's (ph) Nina de Blasio. Any relation? No relation. Well, there you go. I think we know the approval rating of Mayor de Blasio in this room. Anyway, Nina de Blasio, you go ahead.
NINA DE BLASIO: Governor Kasich, thank you very much for coming to Howard Beach and putting us on the map in a positive perspective. My question is, at this time, I am a Donald Trump supporter. I feel he has a strong vision in keeping our great country safe. I also believe he will defend Christianity in a world where others want to defeat it. Yes, at times, he does speak rough around the edge, but he brings to the table a non-political correct point of view in which most of us can relate to. Having said this and wanting a Republican desperately in the White House, how or what can you say to me to make me get off the Trump train?
KASICH: Well, first of all, you know, I'm really the only candidate that wins against Hillary. Last poll, I was up by 11. I mean, the last five or six, I've been able to beat her decisively. But let me tell you, you can get frustrated with the system and you can knock all the pieces off the chess board, but I think you want solutions, don't you? So let me tell you a little bit about me. When I was in congress, I was one of the people that helped to reform the welfare system to eliminate the entitlement. I operate under the philosophy that it's a sin not to help people who need help, but it's equally a sin to continue to help people who need to learn how to help themselves. That's my philosophy on welfare. Number two, I was chairman of the budget committee. We balanced the budget, we had four years of a balanced budget, we cut taxes, and we paid down a half a trillion dollars of the national debt, and at the time that was happening, the jobs were growing so fast, there was no discussion of wages, no discussions of income inequality, we were doing great, and when I left Washington, we had a projected $5 trillion surplus, which they blew once my friends and I had left. I became governor. We had lost 350,000 jobs. Now we're up 417,000 jobs. I've cut taxes more than any governor in America. We are continuing to reform welfare, plus, because we're doing better, we've been able to help all these people who find themselves living in the shadows, to get them on their feet. We don't want the mentally ill sleeping under a bridge or living in prison. We have programs to rehab the drug addicted in our prisons with an 80 percent success rate. We are funding more money into K-12 education, created vocational education, more school choice, I mean I could go on and on. Given everybody a chance.
The key to the future, economically, are common sense regulation so we're not killing small business. If you over regulate them, you kill them, and that's where are kids need to work and you need to work. Number two, you have to lower taxes for individuals and businesses, and number three, you've got to have a plan to balance the budget, and you can't do it by visiting the waste, fraud, and abuse office because there is no such place. So, what that will do is allow us to grow again and to leave no one behind and to unite us, because that's what I've been all of my lifetime. Even though I don't agree with the liberals, I get along with them, and being able to bring us together, to remind us that we're all Americans, and finally, I spent 18 years on the Armed Services Committee, so I actually have foreign policy experience and the knowledge of how to defeat ISIS, how to bring the world together, how to unite people, not divide the world. So here's the problem. You send somebody down there that doesn't understand how it works, then you're going to have more drifting, and the only thing I can tell you is, we won't drift if I'm there because I know how to move the system and I want you to know one other thing. My dad carried mail on his back. His father died of black lung, was a coal miner. My mother's mother could barely speak English. All of my lifetime, I have been a reformer for people who have no voice.
Chuck will tell you, I upset the apple cart all the time, but I don't hate the establishment, but I know how to move the establishment for the good of the folks, and that's what I want you to know. I can't do any better than that other than, I think the more you get to know me, the more you'll like me, so keep watching. All right, thank you.
TODD: Well before you go, you still on the train? Are you still on the Trump train?
DE BLASIO: I am on the Trump train but I do like a lot of your views and I do like the way --
KASICH: You know what happened to me? I'm going to tell you, this is true, and Chuck has been very fair to me, but I received no attention for months and months and months. You like Rocky, you like the underdog? I have been ignored for about five months, but you know why? Because I wouldn't name call. And everybody pronounced me dead all the time, and we're the little engine. We keep climbing. And our challenge now is for people to really get to know who I am. Now they're beginning to know I exist but they need to hear more about who I am before they can decide, and that's why things like this is so important, because what I love about this, it's not sound bites, it's not wrestling in the mud, you get to listen to me, you get to look into my head and my heart, and then you get to decide who's going to fight for you.
DE BLASIO: Thank you very much.
TODD: "The New York Times" did an interesting little profile of you. You probably saw it, that some of your old friends in congress, they don't recognize soft and cuddly John Kasich. They remember scolding confrontations, and that's the John Kasich -- I'm old enough to remember when you were the maverick, when you were the guy that was politically incorrect sometimes, in what you said, the blunt talker. But you have been the prince of light, and is it by comparison or have you moderated yourself demeanor-wise?
KASICH: Well first of all, no, let me tell you, if you want to get into a fight with me, let's get it on. Down in Washington, I fought for ten years to balance the budget. I couldn't even get my own party to support it. Now, what am I supposed to do, just smile? I had to fight for what I believed in. And guess what? I got it. I won. And some of them are very bitter about the fact that I got this budget balanced, and you know what they're really bitter about? I left Washington, we had a $5 trillion surplus, and guess what? The Republicans controlled the house, the senate, the White House, and they spent it all. So I say, there's no difference, really, Democrats love to spend, so do Republicans, it's just that Republicans feel guilty. The point is, Chuck --
TODD: Good thing we're in a church.
KASICH: The point is, Chuck, I'm going to fight. Look, I'm in a big battle with the legislature over taxing the fracking industry and using it to reduce income tax. Yes, I mean I will push as hard as I can respectfully, but I'm going to push, because if we don't push, we get nowhere. You go to Washington, this guy's running for congress, Mr. O'Reilly over here, OK? You owe me now. But here's the thing, you go down there and you're a mouse, you know what you'll get? Nothing. And if you want a friend and you live in Washington, buy a dog. But I've got a lot of my old pals, (ph) Chris Shay, guy's been living out on the campaign trail for me. So, got a lot of loyal people too.
TODD: All right. Let's go to (ph) Carrie Roman who's got the next question.
CARRIE ROMAN: Hello, governor. Thank you for coming to Howard Beach. My question to you is, what plan do you have to keep New York City safe and America from preventing another terrorist attack from happening?
KASICH: OK, I'm going to go very quickly. We should have a coalition of the Arab Muslims who supported us in the First Gulf War, along with the Europeans. We need to go to the Middle East and destroy ISIS both in the air and on the ground. Destroy them. Then, when it settles down, come home. Let them figure it out over there. Let's not stay over there for 100 years. Let them figure it out. Then, we need to take this NATO organization, Chuck and I talked about it on Sunday, which he gave me a lot of time to talk about it, fundamentally a military organization. It needs to be transformed into both an intelligence organization and a policing organization, and the President of the United States has got to make it clear that we're all going to work together to make sure we know where the bad guys are so we can disrupt them and destroy them and imprison them, OK?
Here at home, we have the Joint Terrorism Task Force. This is made up of FBI, Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement. They need to have the resources, which they currently have, and if they don't, I'd get it to them, and secondly, the tools, which is why I'm glad to say that the encryption issue appears to be behind us so we can hear, and then there's another thing. You as neighbors. You see something crazy, you've got to tell somebody. San Bernardino, the neighbor knew, didn't say much. The father knew the son was radicalized, didn't say anything. I know that's tough for a dad but the point is, we need to be able to tell people what we see and that is why (ph) Bratton is saying, policing these Muslim neighborhoods is not a long term solution. The solution is, all of us who believe in peace and civilization and the lives of our children need to be together.
TODD: You said, quickly, about get in, destroy ISIS, and then get out and let them work it out, basically, you don't think America should be --
KASICH: They're going to redraw the map.
TODD: Right. We don't have to get involved in the -- but you are in favor of regime change in North Korea. Is it simply because of the nuclear issue?
KASICH: Yes, I mean, this guy -- yes, I'm in favor of --
TODD: But how do you do it?
KASICH: You've asked that question, a lot of people have. You look for all the means. But first of all, what I'd rather do is prevent them from proliferating their weapons. If they put a ship or a plane out of there, we ought to stop it. Secondly, we ought to put sanctions on them where they can't change all this money. We still don't have tough enough sanctions on North Korea, although U.N. just put additional sanctions on. In addition, the Japanese and the Koreans need to have a missile defense if the Chinese cannot --
TODD: Should they have their own, though, or should we do it for them?
KASICH: Well, I think we can work together and figure -- I mean, I think they can have it, or we can help them to build it just like the Israelis have the iron dome. I mean, we helped with it but we didn't actually do it.
TODD: How hard would you prevent Japan and South Korea from developing their own nuclear weapons?
KASICH: I don't think we want them to have nuclear weapons. We don't need to have anybody else developing nuclear weapons, including Iran. If we find that, I'm for suspending that agreement. If we find out they're developing, we're going to have to act. No more nuclear weapons. We need to control this. These are the weapons of mass destruction. This is so bad, and that's the thing I worry about for our children and for my daughters.
TODD: All right. We're going to sneak in another break. This is a town hall with John Kasich right here at Howard Beach neighborhood, here in New York City. We'll be right back.
TODD: We are back. Welcome to St. Helen's Church here in Queens, New York, at the Howard Beach Neighborhood. We are with our town hall with Governor Kasich.
Governor, let's go right. This is Sharine Murray (ph). She's got the next question. Sharine, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Todd.
TODD: And I believe you are running for office, or you have run for office as a Republican a few times.
QUESTION: Yes, I have. State committee woman of the 29th assembly district. Thank you so much for coming here to Queens County. For me, Governor Kasich, your narrative for president mirrors that of Lincoln. So my question to you is, as president of the United States --
TODD: Not bad. Lincoln.
QUESTION: Yeah. That's pretty good.
TODD: That's a good one to get compared to.
QUESTION: As president of the United States, what specifically would you do to build trust and what specifically would you do to reform social and economic injustices in African-American communities across the country?
KASICH: Well, you know, it's -- one of the things that happened that was really great is Nina Turner, who is a Democrat state -- was a former state senator, may some day be mayor -- she came to me with a couple other ladies in the legislature, African-Americans saying, we have a problem, we need a commission. I say well, you know, some sort of a study. I said you know, Nina, we're not going to do that, we're going to move quicker. And we created a task force on community and police and what we did is we staffed this with community leaders, law enforcement people, she's one of the co-chair persons, along with our head of public safety, who used to run the highway patrol. And they sat down for a period of time and tried to figure out how we could bring police and community together.
What does that mean? The community can understand the police and the challenges they have and that their family doesn't want them to be killed and taken out here when they’re on duty, or even off duty. And secondly, that there are people in the community who feel that the country doesn’t just work for them, but works against them. And two days into the Baltimore riot, it was just really amazing. They released a report. And the report created a statewide policy on the use of deadly force. Secondly, not only that, but now a whole policy on recruiting and hiring so that the community -- the police force looks like the community and in addition to that now, we're moving now to ways in which we can fully integrate police and communities so that trust can exist in both communities. And then finally, we also have a grand jury study going on by our chief justice.
The point is -- a couple more quick things, Chuck.
TODD: Yeah -- No, no, no. It's fine.
KASICH: We give criminal justice reform, we give people a chance to get out of the prisons if, in fact, you know, they're nonviolent felons, they want to improve their lives, our recidivism rate is about -- is almost less than half the national average. We give nonviolent felons a chance to wipe the record clean and to be able to get employment, because many of them can not. And I'm a person -- and look, if you're a gang banger, if you want to cause violence in the prison -- We just had a guy escape. He'll never get out. We caught him and he's never going to get out. You're a gang banger, you're never getting out. We’re going to lock you up for 1,000 years.
But if you want a chance to better your life, we're going to give you a chance. And in addition, with nonviolent felons, Chuck, we don't want to just throw them in the prison. We want to give them a chance to get their lives back because it's going to keep repeating itself and I do believe that people can have a second chance.
TODD: Now very quickly, this is more than just criminal justice reform, though, and you have reached out to the African-American community in a way that other Republicans have, but Ohio -- what is it -- the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Ohio the sixth worst state to raise a black child in, median income, a $20,000 gap between blacks and whites in Ohio. Cleveland is considered one of the ten most segregated cities in the country. Why?
KASICH: Well first of all --
TODD: And what does it take to fix these stats? Do you not believe them?
KASICH: No. I'm not sure I do believe --
TODD: You don't believe these guys? (ph)
KASICH: No, everybody has a political angle when they do stats. Look, I received 26 percent of the African-American vote, which is unbelievable. And you know why? Because the community says basically we trust them, we know that he is doing his best to help us. I don't know what all these statistics are, but I'm going to give you one great statistic. We are building a road from downtown Cleveland to the Cleveland Clinic and we not have a goal of 20 percent of the construction is going to be done by minorities. In addition to that, we are the first administration that actually enforces the set-aside (ph) where the black community has the chance to receive, you know, 15 percent of all of the contracts that go on and they can get even more than that.
But look, we've reformed the Cleveland public schools. I did it with the entire community. Look, I will tell you that the urban challenges we have are real. But you've got to have a growing economy, you've got to do workforce, you got to improve your schools and we’re doing all of that. So I don't know about all that study. I will tell you this. The issue of instant mortality is a tough one. We have taken that on and one of the toughest areas to take on is in the minority community. And the community itself is going to have to have a better partnership with all of us to begin to solve that problem with infant mortality in the minority community because we're making gains in the majority community. We don't ignore any of this, Chuck. These are serious issues and they need to be addressed and I don't put my head in the sand and if I got to get people upset doing it, that's life.
TODD: Right. Craig (inaudible). Got the next question.
QUESTION: Welcome, Governor. Governor, average middle class income has been stagnant for nearly four decades now. The average middle class worker making $60,000 in 1980 can expect to make $72,000 today. All this while wealthy corporations are growing at an amazing rate. Some will say this is due to tax breaks, lax corporate laws. The poor have also seen an increase in handouts and less of an incentive to better their position. All at the expense of us, the middle class. What do you think you can do to fix? You or any other candidate. What would you put in place day one?
KASICH: Well our rate (ph) is in Ohio are growing faster than the national average and that's because we've diversified the kind of businesses and we're very business friendly, which is what this country ought to be. Frankly, we got to lower the corporate tax rate because it's the highest -- one of the highest in the world among industrialized country and secondly, if you pay your taxes in Europe, you get double taxed when you bring your money here. That's got to stop because we want business investing here in the United States, not investing over in Europe because they feel that their money is trapped over there.
But in addition to that, sir, look, there isn’t any question. When we have the zero interest rates, you put your money in the bank, you got nothing. The wealthy people -- you know, what companies did is they bought back stock, they raised the price of their -- of the stock. The risk people bought it. They got richer and you got stuck with a bad policy over time. Now you want to get out of this mess, you got to get skills. Our schools have got to be transformed into schools that take -- give people training for what their purpose is, connected to a job that really exists, that's real. And we got to get with it.
I think sometimes K-12 is still training for jobs of the past. We need to train for jobs of the future. Not only that, but you ought to have an opportunity to get out and work as part of the education credits you get, not only through K-12, but the community college and the four-year school. Finally, when you go to the community college or the four-year school, you ought to have a guide that says what do you want to be. I will tell you the jobs that are available, this is what it pays and this is what you have to do to get one. But there is no question that the issue of the struggling middle class is real. And we have to address it. We have to work on it.
I'll tell you another thing. A faster economy -- this economy is growing terribly. A faster economy will lift all boats. It will. And give companies and incentive to invest so that you have the tools to become more productive so you get better wages. This is not just some Kasich theory here. I have seen these things happen. Remember I mentioned, when we balanced the budget in our state, up 400 -- over 400,000 jobs, wages growing faster. We're not out of the woods, but we're doing better because we're business friendly. We don't give away the store, but we want people to create jobs because that's what matters in our country. Okay?
TODD: All right. Great. Thanks very much for the question. We got to sneak in another break.
TODD: (Inaudible) We're here in Queens. Governor John Kasich. The town hall madness begins with him right now. We'll be right back.
TK And we are back here -- John Kasich's town hall. We are here in Queens, New York, the Howard Beach Neighborhood. And Mr. Marty Ingraham (ph) has the next question.
QUESTION: Welcome, Governor, to Queens. This summer if you get a chance, come out to Rockaway (ph) for the beach. I need to commend you about --
KASICH: How much time do you think I'm going to be spending at the beach?
QUESTION: I hope you don't have too much time.
TODD: But if he had time for the beach, that's bad news --
QUESTION: We -- many people in this room are victims or survivors of Hurricane Sandy and our neighborhoods, our homes were destroyed and we’re coming back, we're doing a great job in that, but it's widely talked about that the National Flood Insurance Program, the premiums are going to skyrocket. What would you do as president managing the National Flood Insurance Program?
KASICH: You know, I -- Look, I haven't really studied all of this, but I would tell you, there's two ways to look at it. If you live in an area where it's guaranteed to be a flood, then you're going to have to have flood insurance. But if you have a natural disaster where something just kind of wipes in here, then the government has an obligation, in my opinion, to help people to whatever degree that's going to be reasonable and get them on their feet again.
We have natural disasters in my state, of course we do. And I think we have to be there, we have to help people and look, here in this -- in Howard Beach -- you're people that play by the rules. I mean, you go to work, you're God-fearing people, you got common sense, and then you get wiped out and in that case, we got to help you. And in terms of flood insurance, I think you got to look at it in two ways. I mean, if you're living somewhere where you're likely to be flooded, you're probably going to pay more. But you know, in a place like this where it's not to be expected, I think we -- could be maybe two -- you know, two formulas as to how we do it. I'll have to check it out, okay? But are you doing all right?
QUESTION: Yeah, we’re doing fine.
TODD: Are we letting too much development close to the coast line where it sort of -- almost too much of it and there's not -- and then it --
KASICH: Maybe, perhaps. I mean, I -- I don't want to just go off the top of my head on this. I mean -- one thing you got to do is be careful. But clearly, in areas where --
TODD: Presidential politics. There's no careful this year.
KASICH: Well, you're right. There's some. But with me, you know, I mean, I want to be a mature leader here. I mean, you just don't pop off. Well, I guess popping off works. Not for me.
KASICH: Chuck, I don't know. But I think you have to be careful with this because there's a lot of people that have invested a lot of their money in this. You have to think about it.
TODD: All right. Think about it. Patrick Cook, you got the next question.
QUESTION: First of all, thank you for coming to New York. Secondly, I'd like to ask you. --
KASICH: Are you from New York? That sounded like you were from Maine.
QUESTION: No --
KASICH: No, I'm sorry.
QUESTION: I am from New York. I'd like to personally say that I think you're the best candidate -- unfortunately the best candidate --
TODD: Don't blow it now.
QUESTION: Unfortunately, the best candidate doesn't always get the nomination. So my question is, if you weren't to receive the nomination, why wouldn't you accept the VP nomination?
KASICH: Because I'm Governor of Ohio and it's the second best job in America. And secondly, I'm running for president and I'm going to finish my job as governor. People find it hard to believe, but there's also another world out there that is not connected to the government and I have an obligation to my family we'll see, though. You see, I think what's going to happen is -- Let me tell you -- We've had ten Republican contested conventions and the person who had the most delegates going into the convention only won three times. Seven times they picked somebody else.
So who goes to a convention? Somebody like you, sir. I mean, you could sign up as a delegate for somebody, but if they don’t get enough of the votes in the first or the second ballot, you’re free. Then you start thinking OK, two things: who can beat Hillary, right? Who can beat her? And secondly, who can be president?
Because then it gets to be serious on your shoulder. See, then it gets to be serious issue about what you want this country to look like and who can really run it. So that’s kind of my view about this.
And you’d be a good candidate maybe.
TODD: Do you think that you could do more in the White House than you could as the Governor of Ohio? As Vice President?
TODD: Vice President, sitting in the West Wing --
KASICH: No, I would be the worst Vice President anybody ever had. OK? Trust me.
TODD: How have you been able to govern Ohio while campaigning ful l time?
KASICH: There’s these things, Chuck, it’s really amazing, they’re called cell phones.
TODD: No, I understand.
TODD: But I mean, no, I got it -- where has it been difficult though? Something you cannot do -- what’s a -- is there an initiative you haven’t gone after?
KASICH: (INAUDIBLE). No, not really. We’re, you know, we’re preparing a whole series of things right now. I’d meet with my staff when I’m at home. I’m on the phone with them constantly. No, my number one job is to make sure Ohio’s taken care of. Running for president is second. But I can do them both.
You know, one time when I was out of government, I had five jobs. You know, so it’s -- the Lord’s been good to me, given me the capacity to do this, and so that’s how it goes (ph).
TODD: Two days in February you were in Ohio total. Understandable. You’re campaigning full time for president --
KASICH: Yes, but you know, I’m on the phone constantly. And I have a -- we built a great team of people, and every time I look at the things that they’re doing, I’m like you folks are so great. Because they’re creative, they’re innovative, and I’m getting ready for a State of the State address, by the way, in Marietta, Ohio. It comes next week. You should come out and cover it.
TODD: I have a feeling we will --
KASICH: It’s going to be a humdinger.
TODD: I have a feeling we will be. Let’s take another break here. More with Governor John Kasich, Republican from Ohio, right after this. The MSNBC town hall from Queens, New York.
TODD: And we are back at our final moments with Governor John Kasich. Governor, you’ve made no bones about it: your strategy is to go win this nomination at the convention. Your buddy, former House Speaker John Boehner in Ohio, said this: “If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above. They all had a chance to win. None of them won.”
He obviously is saying, hey, bring more people into the nominating process if it doesn’t happen on the first ballot.
Do you believe somebody other than somebody that ran for president should be placed in the nomination (ph)?
KASICH: Well, you know, it’ll be up to the delegates. But since I’m one of the three still in, I think it ought to be one of us.
No, I’m just kidding.
TODD: -- and he wasn’t going to (INAUDIBLE). Ohioans (INAUDIBLE).
KASICH: Whatever the delegates want to do, I think Boehner’s retracted that since they caught him at a weak moment or something, but look, I think its’ going to be a decision about who can win, who’s tested and who has the record. So, you know, I don’t know how somebody just pops in, but look, we’ll see how it goes.
TODD: You criticized Donald Trump for saying there could be riots in Cleveland.
TODD: You’re going to be governor -- you’re going to be governor of Ohio regardless of your standing at the convention. How concerned are you about the Cleveland convention?
KASICH: We talk about it. You’re asking how do I take care of Ohio and do this? We’ve had a lot of discussions about this.
TODD: Meaning you are concerned that this is going to be (INAUDIBLE).
KASICH: We’ll be -- we’ll be prepared. We work with the Secret Service, the Cleveland police, our National -- the National Guard maybe to some degree. And the Ohio Highway Patrol. Yes, we -- look, it wouldn’t matter what he said; we’d have to be prepared for this. But this is not -- that kind of language is not good.
TODD: Where are you going to win next? And I say this because if -- you’ve won in Ohio --
TODD: Your home state. And your next best showing, Washington, D.C.
KASICH: Well, we were close there.
TODD: It was almost 36 percent.
KASICH: And -- look, it’s about accumulating delegates.
TODD: Where do you win next? Are you going to win a state before the --
KASICH: You know, the minute I start predicting, I’m like -- I’m not Muhammad Ali, so I’m not predicting. But I will tell you is it’s accumulating delegates. We feel very good about Pennsylvania. We think we’re going to be aggressively getting support here in New York. And then we head east, you know, then at that point, frankly, a vote for Cruz will be a vote for Trump, because he can’t compete over in these (INAUDIBLE).
TODD: Well, right now in Wisconsin --
TODD: -- new poll out, has Cruz ahead of 40, Trump at 30, you’re at 21. Cruz has argued that a vote for you is a vote for Trump in Wisconsin. Do you buy that?
KASICH: I think, well, you know --
KASICH: It’s funny, interesting, that “The Milwaukee Sentinel”, the largest newspaper in Wisconsin, endorsed me yesterday, saying he’s a pragmatic conservative that can fix the country and can win in the fall. But, you know, look, Chuck, this isn’t, as I’ve told you before, it’s not a parlor game. None of these -- these other guys cannot beat Hillary Clinton in the fall.
So, look, as the calendar moves along and people get to know me more, and we do more town halls and all that, we’re going to continue to do well. And the calendar’s now beginning to favor us.
And, look, we just have to keep accumulating delegates and gather momentum.
TODD: Well, I’m going to pause it there. Governor Kasich, appreciate you joining us here.
KASICH: (INAUDIBLE). This was great.
TODD: This was great.
KASICH: I enjoyed it.
TODD: Stay safe on the trail.