FULL TRANSCRIPT: MSNBC Town Hall with Gov. John Kasich Moderated By Chris Matthews
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews moderated an hour-long town hall with Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) today for Long Islanders in Jericho, New York. The event also featured questions from the audience. The full Kasich Town Hall will air tonight on MSNBC at 7 p.m. ET followed by the Cruz Town Hall moderated by Chuck Todd at 8 p.m. ET.
Photos will be available here. Below is a rush transcript of the town hall.
NBCNews.com write up: http://nbcnews.to/1qskR0e
Photo credit: Brian Ach for MSNBC
MANDATORY CREDIT: MSNBC
ANNOUNCER: Donald Trump's biggest rival is Ted Cruz.
CRUZ: There's only one campaign that has beaten Donald Trump over and over again.
ANNOUNCER: But John Kasich may be Trump's biggest problem.
KASICH: Nobody is going to have enough delegates to go to the convention and win on the first ballot.
TRUMP: Kasich shouldn't be allowed to continue, and the RNC shouldn't allow him to continue.
KASICH: Donald Trump has created a toxic environment.
ANNOUNCER: Could a strong finish in New York give Kasich real momentum?
KASICH: These people think I'm going to drop out. What are they, nuts?
ANNOUNCER: Can he be more than just a spoiler at the convention?
KASICH: Great leaders don't divide people. Great leaders respect the differences that exist in one another.
ANNOUNCER: This is an MSNBC exclusive town hall with Governor John Kasich from the (ph) Milleri Gym in Jericho, New York, here now is Chris Matthews.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Good evening, and welcome to an MSNBC exclusive town hall. Please welcome tonight, for the full hour, Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate, John Kasich. (applause) Thank you, governor. Two days ago in New York, with the Republican Women's Club, you talked about fear and anger out there and how certain candidates opposing you have been exploiting it for their own fame and to gain attention. What were you talking about and who were you talking about?
KASICH: Well, I was talking about Trump and Cruz, primarily. (laughter)
MATTHEWS: You didn't say that then. Now you're saying it.
KASICH: Well, look, here's some of the menu that they've offered. We're going to have surveillance over some neighborhoods. We're going to ban people based on a religious test. We're going to use nuclear weapons in Europe, and we're going to get rid of NATO, we're going to let Russia kind of run Europe -- here's the problem, Chris, this is what bothers me. Do we have problems? Yes. Of course we do. People are worried about their jobs, they're worried they don't have good wages, they put their money in the bank, they get no interest, and what they're really worried about is their kid went to school and is still living with them, can't find a job. I mean seriously can't find a job.
Now, are those as serious problem as the Depression? As the Second World War? As the attacks on 9/11? I don't think so. They're serious, but you can either get people and drive them into a ditch and feed on their anxiety, gnashing of teeth -- this person did this to me, or you can walk into a room and you can acknowledge the problem and you can try to give people an answer. Have a little hope. Tell them they can be solved, because these things can be fixed, and they're not even that difficult to fix. It's just that people have to remember, they're Americans before they're Republicans and Democrats and we've got to fix the country. That's all.
MATTHEWS: So, the fear is real, the anger is real. Why are they all voting -- 15 million people, if you count up all the votes in the primaries, voting for Trump and Cruz, the guys you say are exploiting it? Why are they getting the votes?
KASICH: Well, look. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood, as you know. I understand these fears, and frankly, people think, if a politician's lips are moving, they're lying. So it's been incumbent on me -- people say, why does he keep talking about his record? I talk about my record because I think if you can show you did it a couple of times, you actually fixed things, then you have credibility for doing it the third time. But I think people have just kind of had it. Here's another thing they say -- I hate political correctness. OK, I get that, but we don't want to get rude. That's not where the country should head. And I tell you, they got all the publicity, too. I mean, Trump, are you kidding me? He's like up there all the time and he just caught a wave, and I think it was the first debate, I said, don't dismiss what this guy says, it's serious. But, I think now that people are beginning to hear a little bit of a message that we have, we continue to do better.
Here's the way it kind of looks right now in the three man race. There's Coke, there's Pepsi, and there's Kasich, OK? (applause) You're not supposed to clap for that, you're supposed to cry when I say that, OK? And then there's the other part of it. Now, it's kind of like, Coke, Pepsi, Kasich, and you're shopping with your spouse and you're looking at what you're going to buy and people are beginning to realize there is this un-cola called Kasich but they still don't know enough about me. And so I've been playing from behind the whole time, but you know what's amazing? I'm still standing. There were 17 of us and now we're down to 3. (applause)
MATTHEWS: Let's talk about -- we're not going to get rid of fear and we're not going to get rid of anger because it's justified, so how does John Kasich, that third brand, deal with -- let's talk about a couple things. Is illegal immigration, mainly from Latin America -- is that a real problem or not?
KASICH: No, I think it is, I mean it is for --
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you going to do about it?
KASICH: Well, we need to make sure -- in '86, Reagan had a plan --
MATTHEWS: I know. It was never enforced.
KASICH: It wasn't enforced, so we've got to enforce it, and we've got to say, you can't just walk into this country willy nilly. I mean, we lock our doors at night so people just don't walk into our homes. They shouldn't be able to walk into our country. So it is an issue of laws. It's also becoming more and more a national security issue. So let's control the border, and then we can have a guest worker program where people come in, work, and go back, and for the 11.5 million that are here, we're not going to go yanking them out of their home and deporting them.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but let's talk about (INAUDIBLE) who's coming here illegally. We have people here, we're probably not going to deport 12 million people or 11 million people. But there's probably a fellow down in Mexico now or in Salvador somewhere, hears there's a job open because his cousin tells him about it, he calls him up and says, I've got a job and a kitchen up here in Chicago. You get up here, you've got a job. It's all below the counter, it's off the books. As long as people hire people illegally in this country, people are going to come to this country illegally. No matter how many walls you've got or no matter what, they'll get here. You'd get here and I'd get here. So what are we going to do about the business man who hires to get cheap labor? What are we going to do about that guy? Are we going to put him in jail?
KASICH: We're going to have to hold him accountable --
MATTHEWS: How do we do that? How do we make him fear hiring a guy illegally?
KASICH: Well no, I'll tell you what you do, you fine them.
MATTHEWS: You really think that would stop them?
KASICH: Let me tell you something. Small businesses, whether it's construction industry or whether it's the service industry -- there's not big margins. They work on small margins, and we just have to have a system that says --
MATTHEWS: Do you like (ph) e-verify? Do you like it?
KASICH: From what I know about it. But let me just tell you this -- we pay our taxes. We're going to pay our taxes. I already paid mine last week, OK? So we're going to pay our taxes. Why do people pay their taxes? Because they have a sense that if they don't, they might get caught, and beyond that -- well, I'm saying, what we're driving at is, what would keep people -- why would you have compliance? Well, because there is a certain sense, like, I don't want the IRS coming after me, and that's not -- people feel they've got to pay their taxes. Most employers don't want to hire illegals, but if you put a consequence --
MATTHEWS: They don't want to hire illegals, even though they get the most work out of them and it's the cheapest money?
KASICH: I'm saying they -- most don't, come on?
MATTHEWS: Then why do they do it?
KASICH: OK, MSNBC, you guys hire illegals?
MATTHEWS: No, I'm talking about --
KASICH: No, I'm talking to you. (applause)
MATTHEWS: And you think we do? Is that a charge?
KASICH: Yes, it's a charge.
MATTHEWS: And what's your basis for making that charge?
KASICH: Well, because I've talked to people and they tell me this is what's going on.
MATTHEWS: Let's get back to serious.
KASICH: What I'm saying is -- let me finish. I'm saying most employers wouldn't want to do that, some do. And compliance, where they know there's a fine --
MATTHEWS: OK, why'd your party not pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill? It's got e-verify in it and a whole good stuff, 12 Republican senators backed it, and the house speaker wouldn't bring it up. He wouldn't even let it come to a vote. Why don't you bring it to a vote?
KASICH: Can I give you an answer? I'm serious. Because I'm not president. If I was president, they'd bring it up.
MATTHEWS: If you were speaker, would you have brought it up?
KASICH: Would I have brought it up? I don't know --
MATTHEWS: Would you bring out votes if most people wanted to vote for it?
KASICH: I would say -- look, I'm not speaker, Chris, but I was budget chairman. You want to talk about --
MATTHEWS: I just want to know why we can't get stuff done.
KASICH: Well you know why? Because everybody's polarized. We know that.
MATTHEWS: I know that. Including your party.
KASICH: Look, I said that there's two things that have been happening lately. One is, so the President does these executive orders, bypasses congress, bad idea --
MATTHEWS: Maybe because he can't get a vote in congress.
KASICH: Can I just finish this train of thought?
MATTHEWS: It's all part of this argument you're in. Blame the other party when in fact your party won't bring these matters to a vote.
KASICH: You didn't let me finish.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. I think I did, but go ahead.
KASICH: No, you didn't! Here's what I was saying. The President did these things, but then we had a Republican who went to the State of the Union, and when the President of the United States was talking, he shouted, you lie. OK? It's pops on both houses. First of all, I said we're Americans before Republicans and Democrats. You know what one of my 16-year-old daughters said the other night, she said, we live in the United States of America, not in the Divided States of America. And the fact is, it's leadership, Chris! It's leadership.
MATTHEWS: Just so you get the sequence right, I'm not here to defend Obama on this because I don't like these executive orders, but he did it after the Republican speaker wouldn't bring up a comprehensive immigration bill, so we get this thing behind us.
KASICH: Chris, look, I've just got to tell you, for a long time, now, they have not been able to communicate.
MATTHEWS: I agree with that. What happened? Why did it stop?
KASICH: Let me tell you a story. I'm going to tell you a really good story. It's never been told before. I got a call from Boehner. He said, I want you to come play golf with the President, the Vice President. So we go out, we get there, Biden's like been out there for two hours practicing, and he's all lathered up and everything, and Boehner takes Obama, I take Biden -- after the first ball, I never saw Joe, he's in the woods the whole time. But --
MATTHEWS: See what you're --
KASICH: I love Biden, OK? He's a good guy. I don't agree with him but I like him and look, say this about him -- that guy has been through some hell with the loss of his son, with the accident where he lost his wife, and I think a child -- I mean, and he's been a great public servant. I don't agree with him, but I like him, OK? So we get done playing and we're supposedly having a soft drink, but we were drinking beer, let's be clear about it, OK? And I looked at John Boehner, I said, Boehner, can you believe it, that you're the speaker of the house? I mean, your dad owned a bar, you had like I don't know how many brothers and sisters, and you're the speaker. I said, give me a break. And I said, Joe, you, vice president? Are you kidding me? And then I looked at them, I said, and me, I'm the Governor of Ohio. Me, the Governor, and you, you, Mr. President? You? Come on. I said, clearly the Lord wanted us to be here, so we better do something while we're here. And the President looked at Boehner and he said, you come down to the White House and we'll start talking about the budget. And right after that, they started talking. Now the thing fell apart. I don't know why it fell apart, but there was a moment there where there was a connection. And you know what, Chris? You know this from the experience you had -- where there's a will, there's a way, and we have to get people to ride their performance to a level where they want to help America. They want to fix Social Security. They want to create economic growth. They want to --
MATTHEWS: I'll tell you, you've been very clear in the last two days, especially with the Republican Women's Group the other day about, there are two paths that your party could take, and one is the dark path and one is your path. But it reminded me of Robert Frost. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, we all learned that in school. But the problem is, you're taking the road less traveled by, that's the problem. You're taking a road of openness and agreement and negotiation and most of the voters out there in your party, 15 million I said, 3 million voted for you so far, how do you come out ahead in this at the convention? How do you get out and become the nominee between now and July?
KASICH: Well, I'm studying how Lincoln got there. He was like fourth or whatever and he got picked, but -- (applause)
MATTHEWS: I knew Lincoln.
KASICH: I almost pulled that on Ted but I stopped. I knew Reagan -- but Chris, look. We keep talking about the primary. Now, you win a primary, you lose a general, what's the point? What, do you hang a certificate on your wall? I'm the only one that consistently beats Hillary and then yesterday, did you see that little thing they did, 40,000 people they surveyed, and they did the electoral college? Hillary decisively beats Cruz and Trump and I decisively beat her. And there's a reason. Look, the reason is, I can appeal to the blue collar workers and I can appeal to the independents, or my team can, and we have a proven record of success of solving problems. I don't want to operate in the negative.
MATTHEWS: OK, look, you go into Cleveland, it's in your state, and everybody knows Republicans don't win presidential elections without Ohio. It never happened. It's the one state your party needs. Obviously -- but you get to the convention, suppose Trump doesn't get even 1,100, he's nowhere near. He doesn't get the gimme. He doesn't get to 1,237.
KASICH: Well he's not going to, we know that.
MATTHEWS: OK, but that doesn't happen. That's the first step to you getting the nomination. You get there and all the sudden, Trump starts making speeches, which he's already begun to make. If I don't get this thing, it's been fixed, and I'm walking. Or running third party, we don't know what he's going to do, but he will blow his stack, and he will say one word to you and you've got to respond to it, so I'll say it to you now -- democracy. He got the most votes. Shouldn't he be the nominee over somebody who got 1/5 the number of votes or 1/3 the number of votes?
KASICH: Great point. There's only one problem with that. We know that to get an A, you need to make a 90. So somebody makes an 83 and says, you know what, I did better than everybody else, I should get an A -- no, no, no, you didn't get to 90. Now let me say another thing about conventions.
MATTHEWS: Why do you apply that rule when in every sport we fight in this country, the team that gets the most points in basketball, wins? The baseball team that gets the most runs wins.
KASICH: Right, once you finish the fourth quarter. And once you finish nine innings. We're not done yet. So there's -- because -- (applause) because --
MATTHEWS: Every election that's ever been held in this country, they don't say, you didn't hit 33 million. All you have to do is get one more vote than the other guy.
KASICH: Not true. You ever heard of this thing called the electoral college? OK, so I can throw that argument right back on you.
MATTHEWS: So you think you can beat the word democracy?
KASICH: You want to abolish the electoral college? Well, now this is Al Gore's argument. He wasn't president. Bush did, he won the electoral college.
MATTHEWS: Somehow I think the Democrats are more docile than the people for Trump. I don't see the people for Trump saying, oh, I guess we lost. We're going home. I don't think they're going to be like that.
KASICH: Let me tell you something. There are people who are for Trump who are really not for Trump. You know that. Here in New York --
MATTHEWS: I don't know that.
KASICH: Yes you do.
MATTHEWS: What is this big conversion? You get to Cleveland, and all the delegates that got there because of Trump or got there because of Cruz, they're going to say, something's just come over me. Kasich, Kasich, I'm going to vote for Kasich. How's that going to happen?
KASICH: I'm going to tell you how it's going to happen. Because first of all, the Trump voters are comfortable with me, and the more they know me, the more they like me. You know why? Because I grew up more like them than Trump did, OK?
MATTHEWS: That's an argument? But you haven't convinced them.
KASICH: They don't know me yet, Chris!
MATTHEWS: When are they going to know you?
KASICH: When you keep putting me on TV.
MATTHEWS: It's April. We're getting close.
KASICH: Yes, but here's the thing -- remember the Coke, Pepsi, and Kasich? Now, it's starting -- people are beginning to say -- a lady came up to me in New York the last Saturday, she said, I need to take a picture with you. I said, why's that? She says, well, because I was for Kasich before it was cool to be for Kasich. And that's starting to turn. Now, let me tell you what happens up there. When people become delegates, they assume -- there's a gravity that sets in. They realize they're picking somebody who can be president and somebody who has to win. And I think, at the end of the day, when they're there, they take on a different role, and who are the delegates going to be? A lot of them are going to be people who worked in the party vineyards for 40 years, and so I think it's very possible. Now it'll be up to me to convince the delegation to --
MATTHEWS: To overrule the voters.
KASICH: We're not overruling anybody. You've got to get the magic number. I mean, what are you, kidding me? You know this!
MATTHEWS: I made my point and you've answered the question.
KASICH: You didn't make a very good point. I made a good point. (applause)
MATTHEWS: I'm letting you do this. Let's go to the first question. Let's go, from the audience, the people here.
STEVE YOUNG: Hi, my name is Steve Young, and welcome to Jericho. I am a local resident and it's a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to you. Chris Matthew has trumped -- I don't want to say Trump, but he has trumped my -- what I was going to ask, because you're talking a lot about the number of votes -- and all of that, and I hate to say it, but a lot of us Coke drinkers are not going to switch to the un-cola and that's why Coke is so popular. Don't you feel at some point that you have a responsibility to voters to recognize the fact that they're not voting for you? I know, you keep saying, and I'm listening to you say, well, people are jumping on your bandwagon. Well what if they don't jump on your bandwagon? Are you just going to be comfortable going into a convention -- it looks like it's going to be chaotic and really a problem, and you're going to be comfortable --
KASICH: Who told you that?
YOUNG: The media.
KASICH: They haven't been right about one single thing they've said. (applause) But anyway, let me answer the question.
YOUNG: I'm watching the primaries. I'm watching primary results, and I will tell you, I was very interested in your campaign from day one. You're not new to this, and it just hasn't resonated, and at some point, I mean, who told you that you're all that popular now when the vote -- we're looking at the New York polls, and your vote is really not where it needs to be, and at some point, are you going to recognize that? Because I do think that there is some responsibility to democracy.
KASICH: Yes, let me tell you what the responsibility is. The responsibility is to run for an office and give people solutions and lift them. The responsibility is not to talk about dividing people, gnashing teeth, turning them against one another. I will not participate in that, OK, sir? Now, now -- (applause) Now let me tell you this. If I don't win, I'll be a gentleman. I'm not going to say that my people are going to walk out. I'm not going to say any of the things that I've heard said either by him or by other people. You see, it's important that people hear the message that they matter, that they have a God given purpose, that they need to solve problems in their neighborhood -- come to the town halls and see what happens there. It's important. It is important for people to hear a different message than the message of negativity. I want to give them a message of hope, and you know what? We're in New York, and there was this guy, he once said, one time, it ain't over until it's over, and this may happen to be Yogi Bear, but thank you.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. I think you made your point.
YOUNG: I just want to tell you, I really appreciate the way you're approaching this, however, we often need to look at the vote. So thank you for --
KASICH: God bless you. I appreciate you. See you in Cleveland.
MATTHEWS: OK, how'd you like that? Much more ahead including questions from our audience here to (INAUDIBLE) in a town hall with Governor Kasich (INAUDIBLE) MSNBC. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: We're back here from (INAUDIBLE) New York on Long Island, with Governor Kasich. (INAUDIBLE) here.
I don't know where to start but I want to ask you a question for (INAUDIBLE) but I have to do a couple of these things.
First of all, I'm trying to think about your party. You sound like your path, some of the other paths being a dark path and you've got the right path.
(INAUDIBLE) years ago, your party had this autopsy. It sounds pretty grim but the idea was how do we bring in more -- how do we bring in more people in a way Republicans?
How do we bring in people Hispanic and gay people and African Americans and how's that going and gay people, how's that going, honestly?
Is that working?
KASICH: Well, it's working in Ohio.
KASICH: -- because to be a -- you know, I have a right to define what it means to be a conservative and to be a Republican. So you know -- and my reelection, I received 60 percent of women, 51 percent of union households. Pretty amazing -- and 26 percent of the African American --
MATTHEWS: -- opposition from the Democrats?
KASICH: Well, and the thing is is that when you bring people together and you can lift them -- I was in Baltimore yesterday and we were -- I'm very worried about Baltimore from the standpoint of those riots we saw.
So I asked -- we were talking about it and some guy says you know how you solve a lot of these problems?
MATTHEWS: I agree.
KASICH: And that's exactly right. And that's what we've tried to do in the state. And we have. And that's --
KASICH: -- everybody gets lifted.
I got one other thing to tell you. For 30 years, I worked on balancing the budget. And I always had problems trying to explain to people exactly why it matters, OK? So now I can tell you. I figured it out.
We have a $19 trillion debt. When the debt goes up, your job opportunities go down. And when the debt comes down, your job opportunities --
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE). How's it work that way?
KASICH: Well, because what you do is you make job creators very nervous. When they think the debt is out of control, they just don't invest. And they don't create jobs. And it's particularly through small business.
So it's -- it is debt. It's also higher taxes. Look at Connecticut. And it's also regulations.
So there are three things you need to do to create jobs. And that's precisely what we did in the state, what I did in Washington, what I'll do again.
But when you have jobs, then you have a chance to reach out to people who often feel neglected. The mentally ill: they shouldn't be living under a bridge or in prison. The drug addicted: you can then have the resources to treat them, to get them on their feet.
So that is a Republican Party that I believe in, one that is all about opportunity.
But, Chris, as my mother used to say about the poor, it's a sin not to help somebody who needs help. But it's equally (INAUDIBLE) to continue to help somebody who needs to learn how to help themselves. That's a good philosophy.
Most -- I mean, (INAUDIBLE) politics to talk about it. I think that -- just love talking politics. Women more so every year. But there are more women voters than there are men. And 75 percent of American women voters right now say they will not vote -- they do not trust and do not like Donald Trump.
KASICH: And that's pretty unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: Well, it is -- what do you do --
KASICH: You got to work to get that --
MATTHEWS: Well, he has.
KASICH: He has.
MATTHEWS: And he fights with Carly Fiorina --
KASICH: -- why he's still in the race?
I mean, why would I not be in the race?
This is a guy that has a 75 percent negative among married women?
Are you kidding me?
We got to write -- when we going to get our menu?
Pick the menu that he would present. You can't -- nobody's going to order anything off the menu. OK? And we're not only going to lose the -- we're not going to lose the White House and the court is gone and then the courthouse to the statehouse, I mean, we just take a dropping. But that's why he's not going to win.
Why he's not going to get --
MATTHEWS: But a lot of women may be --
MATTHEWS: -- they may be worried about (INAUDIBLE) like you. And they're conservative. Except on these social issues. They are pro-choice in many cases because they --
KASICH: That's divided, OK.
MATTHEWS: That's divided because --
MATTHEWS: -- pro-choice in this state, I can tell you.
And a lot of women who say, you know, I'm straight; I'm married to my husband. I'm happy to (INAUDIBLE) still married. But the fact that two guys and (INAUDIBLE) doesn't affect me any.
What's your view on those subjects?
KASICH: Well, you know, I support traditional marriage --
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
KASICH: Between a man and a woman.
MATTHEWS: Well, yes, I know that.
KASICH: No, I said the court has ruled and we're not going to pass any laws now. It's in place.
See, there's a -- there's an issue here, though, that I keep wading into. People ask me, look, Chris, we have -- there is a -- there is a conflict to some degree between people practicing their deeply held religious beliefs, which they have a right to do and the issue of discrimination against somebody that they think is doing something inappropriate.
That has to be balanced. And what I'm trying to argue is everybody just take a breath and let's just try to understand one another a little bit better and be more tolerant because once you write a law, then they keep -- you keep rewriting the laws because you never --
MATTHEWS: -- tolerate same-sex marriage?
KASICH: Yes. I mean, I'm not going to -- yes --
MATTHEWS: You tolerate it?
KASICH: -- I went to one.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know you did.
KASICH: Yes. So I mean --
KASICH: -- I don't think it's right and the wedding that I went to, they know that I don't agree with them.
MATTHEWS: What should gay people do if they love each other?
KASICH: What should they do?
MATTHEWS: If they love each other, what should they do?
KASICH: Well, they should love one another.
MATTHEWS: -- but not get married?
KASICH: I've given you the answer. I believe in traditional marriage --
KASICH: No, wait. Here's the thing. There could be an effort to pass a constitutional amendment. I'm not for doing it. I'm for moving on.
And you know what?
I'm also -- I'm also a believer that if I don't like what somebody is doing, I got a couple things I can do. I can tolerate it. I can say something or I can have another thing I could do. I can pray for a person. That's another thing I can do.
So you're not -- you're not driving me into some ditch here, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, I'm not trying to.
KASICH: You're not going to. OK?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the (INAUDIBLE) --
MATTHEWS: -- because I think it was interesting, you would go to a gay -- this is in my special field of interest but the fact that you would go to a gay wedding and you would help celebrate it with people and you would say I believe a traditional marriage, I don't -- I still don't get the -- your exact position.
Would you like to change the law?
KASICH: But it's -- exactly where it is now, I'm fine with it.
KASICH: I just don't want anybody kind of on either end trying to drive controversy because it has to --
MATTHEWS: Oh, I know.
KASICH: -- it has to do with respecting people's deeply held religious beliefs versus something that could be discriminatory. And it has to be --
MATTHEWS: See, you're taking it -- it just sounds very different to a person here, what you're saying, than what a Ted Cruz says.
KASICH: But I'm running.
MATTHEWS: I'm trying to bring out the differences in what the candidates stand for.
Cruz is, you know, evangelical and he runs on this kind of thing.
MATTHEWS: All right. Let's get a question.
QUESTION: Governor Kasich, thank you and welcome to beautiful Long Island.
KASICH: Strong Island (ph), some of us call it.
KASICH: I've eaten my way across the entire state of New York and I've had the best time. And you know, they talk about New York values. I bring my -- I have twin daughters, you know, and a wife and my wife and I come here and I take my -- one of them each to New York. And you know what, there's not a greater place in the world than (INAUDIBLE).
KASICH: And that's not -- and that's not pandering. I really love it. I think it's -- I mean, look, you're alive, you're youth --
KASICH: -- I've been in and out of here for 10 years.
KASICH: No. No. Here's why I want to live here.
Well, first of all, I love where I live and I love Ohio. But the thing that would be a challenge for me -- you know, I've traffic and things like that. But that's why I don't want to live here. But I love coming here. OK? So but I want to invite you all to come to Ohio. It's great. I'm telling you.
QUESTION: Allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Dr. Cynthia Colus (ph). I'm a proud veteran. I've served this country for four years as Lt. Commander in the United States (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) medical school of the United States Public Health Service and I work with the Native Americans in Oklahoma. And afterward, I said way down to Texas.
I've had a unique experience for almost 20 years, I worked the border towns in Texas. I worked Brownsville, Harlingen, Laredo, McAllen. I worked all those towns that we affectionately refer to as the Knife and Gun Club. I worked the night shift there.
You talk about building bridges. I literally got to see what that wall was like, which is like Swiss cheese or doesn't exist.
QUESTION: The question is have you done your homework?
I mean, I'm going to go into that voting booth next week.
You're one of the few candidates -- well, the only person that's really gone down to see the border with Donald Trump. He gets it. He talked to the border patrol. He talked to the people.
MATTHEWS: What policy would you push?
QUESTION: I feel that those borders need to be secured. And I do.
QUESTION: No, and I'll tell you why because the crime is rampant. I mean, it's one thing, when you're talking the talk and I do like you. But I'm concerned that why have you not gone down to the border?
Why have you not talked to the people there?
And see what these people are --
MATTHEWS: -- get an answer.
KASICH: I've talked to people who were there. I haven't actually been there to look at those --
QUESTION: But why not?
KASICH: -- well, because there's so many hours in the day. I mean, would I -- do I think it'd be great to go there?
Yes, there's a lot of places I would like to go all over the country. But there's only so much time.
But I don't -- I didn't know that you didn't know that I absolutely believe we have to secure the border. I know we have to secure the border.
We were just talking here about what -- you know, in '86, Reagan and the Republicans and Democrats passed a plan on immigration. But we talked about it. We didn't -- we didn't enforce it. And we need to enforce it. And we have to protect our border.
And I'll tell you, it's not just because of that. I worry about ISIS or people who are part of that coming into our country.
So it's a given. It's a given we do that. But we ought -- we shouldn't just do that and then wait to -- do it all at one time. And the other thing is, if somebody comes across that border, we got to send them back now. No more coming in. And you got to do it legally, OK?
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you very much for that description.
But stay with us. Much more of our MSNBC town hall with Ohio Governor John Kasich still ahead. We'll be right back.
(OFF MIKE COMMENTS)
MATTHEWS: We're back with Governor John Kasich. Let's go to the next question.
QUESTION: I'm -- my name is Nathan Jackson. I'm a publicist and I want to thank you, Governor, for coming to one of our Long Island landmarks, the (INAUDIBLE). And a quick question --
QUESTION: -- what are your plans for national health care? I know everybody's talking about repealing ObamaCare but most of the world -- most of the country wants it.
KASICH: Well, look, the problem with ObamaCare is three things. What -- the first problem is is that health care costs continue to rise. They haven't dealt with that problem.
Secondly, insurance costs have skyrocketed.
And thirdly, small businesses don't want to expand because they don't want to get caught in it.
So is there an alternative?
There better be. First of all, I would take some of the federal resources, combine it with Medicaid, which I would send back to the states, let the states create their own -- their own way of coverage the working poor so millions of Americans don't lose health insurance. But that's first step.
The longer step would be we're driving in our state, which can be taken nationally towards total transparency, we want to know the quality of a hospital; we want to know the cost of a hospital. We want to know the quality of a physician. We want to know the cost of a physician. And we are creating a system working with the insurance industry and with the hospital system and with the physicians to reward people who provide high quality below the average. If you are -- if you're providing high quality and your costs are low, we're going to give you a financial reward.
This will work in driving down -- putting downward pressure on health care costs, because we keep going the way we're going, look at our deductibles. We might as well -- you know, we just might as well have catastrophic policies now.
So, I believe -- look, we're going to -- we're actually doing this in our state, not just in government, but also the private sector, and we want to take this nationally. So, we believe in the work.
MATTHEWS: Then you would repeal Obamacare?
MATTHEWS: First, before we got something new or -- ?
KASICH: Well, I would have the whole --
KASICH: -- I'd just switch it all out, yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. This next question, sir?
JOSEPH DEANGELO (ph), EDUCATOR: Hello, Governor. My name is Joseph Deangelo, I'm an educator. My question involves an incident yesterday where a war ship in the Baltics, an American war ship, was buzzed by two Russian fighters and a helicopter.
And this is part -- I'm assuming, an attempt to incite an incident. This is part of a continuing problem that's occurred in China and also, for instance, the defense in Iran, the taking of one of our patrol boats. I was -- I'm curious what you might do about such an international affair.
KASICH: Well, look, I mean, I served on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years, and I saw everything from the buildup of our military, to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, to pushing Saddam out of Kuwait. And I was in the Pentagon after 9/11 at the request of Secretary Rumsfeld.
The one thing you have to do is you have to be strong, sir. You can't -- you can't say one thing and do another. And you also have to stay cool. We don't need to have an international -- an incident or a war. But we need to make it clear to people we're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior.
For example, I would tell the -- I would tell Putin we are going to arm the Ukrainians so they can fight for their freedom. And by the way, if you try to --
KASICH: If you think you can invade NATO and not be attacking us, you're wrong, OK? And with the Chinese, you don't own the South China Sea. And the fact is, if you cyber attack us, we're -- we're not only going to defend ourselves, but we're going to take your systems out.
See a lot of it is being --
KASICH: -- saying what you mean and meaning what you say. But we don't want to get all worked up about something that can take us down the path where we may not be able to get back.
Now, this world needs to unify. And we have to destroy ISIS. The same coalition we used in the first Gulf War, we have to go and get them, with the Arab Muslim nations, along with Europe and ourselves in the air, on the ground.
When we beat it, the settle it -- to beat them, we settle it down, we come home. Let them redraw the map, because they will redraw the map of the Middle East.
And then finally, honestly, the civilized world has to beat the barbarians. And so, we've got to take lemons and turn them into lemonade, and we've got to bring the whole civilized world together, not only on the military issues, but also intelligence and policing so that we can all be aware of where these people are so we can destroy them before they destroy any of the people that we love. OK?
MATTHEWS: Can I -- ?
MATTHEWS: I want to follow up on how hawkish to dovish you are, where you are in that spectrum. By the way, I think Hillary Clinton's much more hawkish than people think. Bernie's not.
KASICH: He is. He screwed up Libya.
MATTHEWS: Well -- I want to talk about your politics.
MATTHEWS: You talk about having a significant component of ground troops in going after ISIS. You also supported the Iraq War. In 2003, you voted for it, like Hillary did.
KASICH: Wait, no -- in 2002, I wasn't in Congress.
MATTHEWS: Well, you supported it.
KASICH: Well, because we thought --
MATTHEWS: At Ohio State, "We should go to war with Iraq," it's a direct quote.
KASICH: Let me -- let me explain.
MATTHEWS: Well, you said that.
KASICH: OK, can I explain why?
KASICH: Because we had intelligence that indicated that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. If he did not, I wouldn't have wanted to go. And let's talk --
MATTHEWS: Who told you he did?
KASICH: Colin Powell. The world. The United States.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you were told the truth?
KASICH: Well, I don't think somebody was lying, from what I know, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, I talked to the top brief from the CIA in May of 2015, last -- just last May --
MATTHEWS: -- who said that Saddam Hussein -- no one ever said to the administration, meaning Cheney or W, that Saddam had --
KASICH: Well, I --
MATTHEWS: -- any kind of nuclear weapons.
KASICH: -- I think --
MATTHEWS: So, all this talk about nuclear weapons in Saddam's hands was not true --
KASICH: What did Powell say?
MATTHEWS: -- and they knew it -- Well, do you just believe people like that?
KASICH: Colin Powell?
MATTHEWS: Yes, you just believe him?
KASICH: Oh, well, I --
KASICH: Chris, the whole world --
MATTHEWS: Did he actually say he had nuclear weapons?
KASICH: Yes. Why, sure he did.
MATTHEWS: Or did they use the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" instead of -- confused a little bit.
KASICH: Look -- OK, look. Here's what I would tell you. When Reagan had troops in Lebanon --
KASICH: -- I voted against having them there.
KASICH: I said, you don't get in civil wars. I now believe we need to get out of Afghanistan. I -- if I were president, I wouldn't be announcing the timeline, but I would give the aircraft that the Afghans need, and I'd get out of there.
And then, if we saw people acting up in there, we'd use special forces to take them out. Let me go on. I've never been for being in the middle of civil wars. I'm not in favor of using US forces on the ground against Assad.
MATTHEWS: Why were we in Iraq?
KASICH: Because we thought he was -- he posed a danger to us and the world.
MATTHEWS: What was the danger exactly?
KASICH: Nuclear weapons.
MATTHEWS: And who told you he had nuclear weapons.
MATTHEWS: I just wonder who told you?
KASICH: We -- yes, I did answer that. But look, I heard Colin Powell, I heard Cheney, I heard the president of the United States, and so did Tony Blair.
KASICH: And now he's being castigated for bad intelligence. It is critical that we have good intelligence. If I'm president, let me tell you the way you do it. You sit in a room with your traditional intelligence person and you have your non-traditional intelligence person.
KASICH: You have your traditional military advisor and you have your non-traditional military advisor. Because you need -- you cannot have group think.
KASICH: If we'd have had group think, Kennedy would have bombed Cuba. You've got to have a diversity of opinion --
KASICH: -- and it's up to --
MATTHEWS: And you believe W had that in the White House?
KASICH: Look, I'm not going into what W --
MATTHEWS: Why would you trust W and Cheney on an issue of war and peace when you know they're hawks. In their core, they wanted that war, and you knew it. Why would you trust their intelligence?
KASICH: Well I -- first of all, I didn't know that they wanted that war just to go to war.
MATTHEWS: They sure as hell did.
KASICH: Well, that's your opinion. You should write a book about it.
MATTHEWS: No, it's the record. It's on the record.
KASICH: Look, Chris. I'm just going to tell you clearly -- I'm going to tell you clearly, now, if Saddam had not had -- if that intelligence information that got Tony Blair, even, to go, and then they called him Bush's poodle --
MATTHEWS: OK, well, I --
KASICH: If we didn't have that, I would never have gone.
MATTHEW: You know what? I just have one question.
KASICH: Just like I think we --
MATTHEWS: If the CIA didn't believe they had nuclear weapons --
KASICH: Well, they --
MATTHEWS: -- why did everybody else in the administration?
KASICH: Because we -- I don't -- I think you're now recreating history.
MATTHEWS: No, no.
KASICH: Yes, I think you are.
KASICH: I think you are. I think you are. I think you're now -- what you're doing is you're Monday morning quarterbacking and say this and this and this and this wasn't true. And by the way, Bush was a warmonger.
MATTHEWS: That's how we learn, though. We learn when we make mistakes.
KASICH: OK -- well, that's right. And I wouldn't do them again. I would make sure that the intelligence was accurate. And if it wasn't accurate, I wouldn't go.
MATTHEWS: Just for the record --
MATTHEWS: Just for the record, I asked all those questions to the top CIA briefer to find out what the actual objective truth was, not the political BS and the arguments back and forth and the ideology involved in going into that war.
And the top briefer who briefed the administration, Mike Morell, told me on my show -- we've got the tape, we'll show it -- what he said -- they never had any testimony, they never gave testimony to the administration that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons.
MATTHEWS: So, however they spun this to get us into that war, it was spin.
KASICH: OK, let me say this about --
MATTHEWS: It was spin.
KASICH: -- about -- let me say this about -- let me say this. First of all, just because one guy said something --
MATTHEWS: He's the chief briefer. He's the guy that that briefed the White House.
KASICH: Look, I'm going to give you my opinion. Just because one guy says something and gets a nice headline doesn't make it so.
MATTHEWS: He didn't get a headline.
KASICH: Doesn't make it so.
KASICH: But let me tell you this. If I thought --
KASICH: Wait a minute, folks. Wait a minute. If I thought they manipulated this to get us in a war like that --
KASICH: I would be -- you think I would defend them? Are you kidding me? I've never been -- I'm -- the Republican Party's my vehicle, it has never been my master.
MATTHEWS: So you'd take --
KASICH: I've never shied away from critics in my own party.
MATTHEWS: You'd take Dick Cheney on good faith?
KASICH: No, I'm -- I --
MATTHEWS: Dick Cheney.
KASICH: No, I took Colin Powell and his presentation --
MATTHEWS: Who was told what to say by Cheney.
KASICH: -- as the United States -- do you know Colin Powell?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know him.
KASICH: OK, how many times are people --
MATTHEWS: Do you think he's happy about what he did?
KASICH: No -- well, sure he's not now, because we found out it wasn't true. But you're not implying that he was some sort of a fool or got manipulated..
MATTHEWS: I think he was used.
KASICH: OK. Shame on all of them.
MATTHEWS: You know why they did? Because people like you and me trust him. That's why they used him. Because we would believe him.
KASICH: Well, here's what I would tell you going forward.
KASICH: We're not going to just go willy-nilly into the -- into war anywhere. I'm -- I don't -- first of all --
MATTHEWS: That's what's surprising. Why do you want to bring ground troops in to fight ISIS when we've been through the experience of ground troops in the Middle East --
KASICH: Well, you know what? Because --
MATTHEWS: -- and it hasn't worked.
KASICH: Are you kidding?
MATTHEWS: It hasn't worked.
KASICH: The first Gulf War worked great. The first Gulf War was a united world. We could --
MATTHEWS: Because we didn't occupy a country.
KASICH: Exactly. You know why? Because Bush the father --
MATTHEWS: You were --
KASICH: Yes, but he -- we achieved our objectives.
MATTHEWS: So, why do you want to put ground troops in the fight against ISIS?
KASICH: Because we have to destroy them before they destroy us --
MATTHEWS: With ground troops?
MATTHEWS: With ground troops?
KASICH: Yes. Wait a minute, Chris. Wait a minute. Do you actually think that you could destroy them without people on the ground? Are you kidding me?
MATTHEWS: Well, what happens when one of our guys gets picked up and they say they're going to behead him in two days? What are you going to do about that?
KASICH: Hey, look. Look.
MATTHEWS: Doesn't that escalate it further?
KASICH: No. What we need to do is --
MATTHEWS: Wouldn't it?
KASICH: No. I don't --
MATTHEWS: It sure would.
KASICH: Look, it's -- all I'm going to say to you is this: ISIS is spreading. It needs to be destroyed. The caliphate needs to be destroyed. It will take all the air -- a lot of the air out of the radicals.
Number two, if you're not on the ground, it won't work. You can't just do it from the air. We learned that -- how many wars did we learn that in?
KASICH: So -- but -- but -- let me tell you this. Once they're gone -- once they're gone, I'm for getting out of there. I am not for the United States being an occupier.
MATTHEWS: Look, Mr. Governor, I -- look, we went into Afghanistan. We went into Iraq twice. We went into Libya. We're in there now against Syria.
KASICH: I wouldn't have gone to Libya.
MATTHEWS: When are we going to stop this regime change?
KASICH: Well, I'm going to tell you. First of all, I'm not at work --
MATTHEWS: When are we going to stop this business? It's not working.
KASICH: -- and this is great. This is --
MATTHEWS; It's not working.
KASICH: This is perfect. Because none of these either people can talk about this, because they have no experience in this. So, it gives me a chance to talk about -- let's talk about Libya.
Hillary Clinton went and put the pressure on the administration to get rid of Gaddafi. We should never have done that.
KASICH: Gaddafi was working with us, OK? It was a terrible, terrible mistake.
KASICH: Did you say that at the time?
MATTHEWS: We'll check it out.
KASICH: Check it out. And then, let me talk about Afghanistan. I would have never added the extra troops. I would have used special forces. And when we see Al Qaeda somewhere, take them out with drones. Take them out with special forces.
KASICH: I want to get out of there.
MATTHEWS: But you want to put troops into fighting ISIS.
KASICH: Yes, because ISIS is different.
MATTHEWS: How is that getting out of there?
KASICH: Chris, I am not for using troops to get rid of Assad, but I'm for troops for destroying ISIS, because the longer we wait, the more complicated it will become --
KASICH: And the more at risk we will be.
KASICH: And we need to defend America.
MATTHEWS: We're going to have more questions from the voters here when we come back.
MATTHEWS: We're back here in Jericho, New York, the center of all support for John Kasich. Our MSNBC Town Hall continues now. Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, good afternoon, Governor. I want to know, what is your position about the -- North Carolina bathroom law.
KASICH: Well, I think governor now is trying to go and somehow improve that or fix that, and I wish him the best on that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you haven't had -- you haven't had --
KASICH: We're not passing anything like that in my state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
MATTHEWS: Next question please.
MATTHEWS: Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Democrat, a liberal Democrat, actually, but you seem like a really authentic --
KASICH: Well, you can't cross over, now, so you have to vote for me in the fall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You seem like an authentic --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- really like you have deeply-held religious beliefs, so I've always wanted to ask this question of somebody who wasn't pro-choice. I don't understand the exception part. I don't understand if abortion is deemed murder why you would make any exceptions at all.
KASICH: Because I think they're appropriate. And I just think they make sense to me, and that's why I'm for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's not --
KASICH: And by the way -- by the way, you've brought up the issue of faith. There's a lot of people who say, OK, well, if you have faith, how does that affect the way you do things?
You know, I don't feel I consult the Bible when I try to decide what to do. I would say that the single biggest thing that faith has done for me is to slow me down and make sure that we do pay attention to people who traditionally get run over.
And those are -- whether they're the disabled, whether they're the poor. It just forces me -- it doesn't force me, it just makes me more aware. And so, that's how it's really -- it's really served me well.
MATTHEWS: OK. We'll be right back. Great question. We'll be right back with more questions for John Kasich.
MATTHEWS: OK (INAUDIBLE) to Ohio governor John Kasich. By the way, Governor, I'm going to wave the "New York Daily News" in your face. This is the best -- you've been endorsed --
MATTHEWS: -- by the "Daily News."
KASICH: I got endorsed by about everybody, you know?
KASICH: And I appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: And I believe that some day will come that you will join Colin Powell in agreeing that you made a mistake in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, they're really in here at Jericho --
KASICH: Hey, you know what? I want --
KASICH: I want to say one last thing.
MATTHEWS: Just to get the record straight --
MATTHEWS: Everybody here is for you. OK? This is not an objective focus group. This is not a focus group.
KASICH: I want to say just one thing. You know, when you do shows like this, you're only as good as the person who asks the question, and I tell you, every time Chris and I get together, I think it's really cool and there's some magic in it. And I've loved -- I love doing stuff like this.
MATTHEWS: Governor. I knew him when he was a nobody.
MATTHEWS: I'll be right back at 11:00 tonight Eastern for a special post-debate edition "Hardball" as the Democrats face off in Brooklyn, that's Bernie and Hillary. But stay tuned right now as Chuck Todd picks up things next in his exclusive Town Hall with Senator Ted Cruz.
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