Exclusive: John Kasich on why he should be the next president

GOP candidate wants to make sure no one gets left behind on 'Hannity'


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 21, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity," and we are broadcasting from the Ohio State University...


HANNITY: ... where earlier today, Governor John Kasich became the latest Republican candidate to announce he is, in fact, running for president. The governor will be our guest for the entire hour.

But first, here is how things went down earlier today.


GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are a lot of people in America today who are not sure that that American dream is possible, that that American dream is alive.

It's the challenges that make you better. I have lived through them, and I have become stronger for them, and America has become stronger for them.

And here's how we've done it, by staying together, not by dividing each other, but by staying together with our eyes on the horizon, with our eyes on the horizon, about the future!


KASICH: Policy is far more important than politics, ideology or any of the other nonsense we see!


KASICH: I have decided to run for president of the United States!



HANNITY: And joining us now for a cable exclusive interview is the new 2016 Republican presidential candidate, the great governor of the great state of Ohio, John Kasich.

How are you, sir?



KASICH: Well, Sean, you know what I've found here over the last couple months and the last month and the last few weeks is that people seem to be proud of their guy. You know, they're happy. They're, like, You got to do this. And I mean, I -- it's really been in many ways overwhelming.

But you know what? My feet are firmly on the ground, and it's really a -- it's humbling. It's really a remarkable thing.

HANNITY: We're going to get into the story of the things you've done here in Ohio, but I know it's a simple, almost cliched question, but an important one. Why do you want to be the president? Why -- you've thought about it a lot. Why?

KASICH: Well, we're here to serve, and I mean, if we're not here to serve, I don't know what we're doing here. And you know, I've got the skills, Sean. I mean, I was chairman of the Budget Committee when we balanced the budget. I was on the Armed Services Committee. I have National Security ...


HANNITY: Was that the 1800s? No, I'm kidding.


KASICH: I know, it seems like -- it seems like it's almost, you know, some sort of a fantasy movie. But when I left Washington, we were -- were running surpluses in the trillions. You know, it's amazing!

And then I was out for 10 years, got a lot of good experience, and then running Ohio -- I mean, this is a big-time state. And this state was falling apart, loss of jobs, rising taxes, people just given up. And now, like, we're back and we're strong and we are -- if I could -- we are really starting to roll here in Ohio. And I think the momentum is just...


HANNITY: I want to talk more about the economy...

KASICH: Look, and let me just tell you that...


KASICH: ... the country needs to be united again. We need to lift people. It's one of the things that, you know, I've always kind of done, but done more explicitly here in the state.

Of course, we need economic growth. Without economic growth, we got nothing. But once you have it, it's just -- it's not an end unto itself, it's a means to an end.

So I think in Ohio, there's been two things that allowed me to be successful. First, I mean, a great team, it goes without saying. But economic growth, and the sense that everybody's included. I mean, no matter who you are, if you're poor, if you're disabled, if you're drug- addicted, we want everyone to rise.

And Sean, that's where this country needs to go, and it'll make us great again.

HANNITY: Let me -- let's go over the numbers because you do have a good record -- $5 billion in tax cuts. You eliminated the estate tax.

KASICH: The death tax.

HANNITY: The death tax...

KASICH: And we're working on getting rid of death now, but we haven't figured out...

HANNITY: You know what my accountant said to me recently? He said, Whatever you do, don't die in New York. I said, I'll try.



HANNITY: You cut the state income tax by more than 16 percent, cutting it more in this latest budget. Unemployment when you took office was 9.2 percent. It's 5.2 percent, 360,000 new jobs. That's a pretty significant record. Can you -- here's the question...

KASICH: Well, in a diversified state. You know, we -- people think of us as just steel and agriculture, but now we're so much. You know, we just -- we're able to get Amazon's cloud computing here. We've got energy.  We've got medical devices, logistics, financial services.

So we've diversified Ohio, so that if one part goes down, the other parts can pick us up. And that's a big, big deal here.

HANNITY: The next president of the United States -- and I know you did work to balance the budget. You became the youngest head of the Budget Committee at 42. You did bring us to a balanced budget. You used to do your own budgets, which nobody paid attention to.

KASICH: Yes, that's right.

HANNITY: But here, you would inherit $20 trillion in debt, $128 trillion in unfunded liabilities, 93 -- listen to these numbers -- 93 million Americans out of the labor force, 50 million Americans in poverty, 46 million Americans on food stamps for 40 months or longer. That seems to me to be beyond daunting.

KASICH: No, you know, Sean...

HANNITY: You don't think those numbers are daunting?

KASICH: Well, I mean, you have to deal with them. But no, I -- they don't intimidate me. I mean, this state in some ways was in a kind of a bad financial situation. You know, I ran for governor, I figure if I get elected, I mean, there's nowhere to go but up. And the same is true of America.

But look, what you do is you reengineer things. You make things work better. And the minute you start getting on a real road to a balanced budget, you're going to see economic growth take off.

And of course, we've got to make sure that our businesses are investing in plant equipment so workers can have more productivity so they can have higher wages.

HANNITY: You really believe you could balance the budget again?

KASICH: I have no doubt!

HANNITY: No doubt. You really believe...

KASICH: No doubt.

HANNITY: ... you can get 50 million Americans out of poverty and 93 million Americans back in the labor force.

KASICH: Well, look ...

HANNITY: And how do you do it?

KASICH: Well, again, it's economic growth, and it's also making sure that education is a lifetime experience so that workers continue to get trained. I mean, that's one of the things that we are doing and need to improve in our state, which is to give people the skills.

And Sean, how about another thing? How about having an education system that allows people to focus on their passions, to get them excited about learning? We don't do that. We've got these -- this agrarian model, where we just stuff them in a classroom. We need to change all that -- flexible -- it's the 21st century, you know?

So I mean, it's daunting. The job is daunting. But I'm not overwhelmed by it. Look, I've been there. I was there when I was 30 years old, dealing with the Pentagon. I was there, you know, at 36 years old, fighting to balance the budget all alone. And we got there.

Think about this. When I left Washington, we had a $5 trillion surplus. The economy was booming. And we cut the taxes on risk-taking and investment. Same thing you got to do, you do there.

And the experience here -- remember, in my speech today, I talked about experience. I talked about the record. But I'll tell you what else they talked about, testing. You have to be tested. And when you're governor of a place like Ohio, you're tested all the time and you get the mettle to take things on.

HANNITY: Let me ask you, in the lead-up to this, a lot of articles were written, Is John Kasich conservative enough? Now, you were quoted in The New York Times as saying about your party, the Republican Party, that it's waging a war on the poor. When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you know, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the pearly gates, He's not going to ask me if I decreased the size of government but whether I helped the poor.

Do you really believe Republicans are waging war on...

KASICH: No. No, but look, you know, I don't know where that came from. But here's what I will tell you ...

HANNITY: The New York Times.

KASICH: Yes, but I -- OK.


KASICH: OK. But here's the thing ...

HANNITY: How dare I quote a New York paper?

KASICH: Sean, you are a man of faith.


KASICH: If you pick up, like, Psalm 41, you know what the first couple of lines are? It's all about, You'll be remembered for what you do for the poor.


KASICH: Now, that doesn't mean you just throw things at people and then that's the end of it. You try to help them get out of the ditch, but then you hold them accountable. And that's what we're doing in this state.  We've got a massive welfare reform program going on.

And by the way, did you know that I was involved in welfare reform in Washington the first time?

HANNITY: The era -- the end of welfare as we know it.

KASICH: I was there...


HANNITY: ... era of big government...

KASICH: I was very involved in it all, you know? And so here -- what I try to say, though, is you can't allow people to be stuck in the ditch.  You've got to help them to get out.

Now, how can somebody ask whether I'm conservative or not? I've got the biggest amount of tax cuts in the country. I never voted for a tax increase. I was involved in balancing the federal budget. We fixed the Pentagon in many different ways to make it more efficient and more effective.

And then I come into office here, we're creating jobs, we're cutting taxes, our credit is strong. But you know, at the same time, we can help people. Now our Medicaid program, by the way ...


KASICH: ... growing at less than 4 percent. It's, like, the best growth rate in the country.

HANNITY: What's your surplus versus what your deficit was when you came in?

KASICH: Well, we were -- we were -- we were $8 billion in the hole, and now we're a $2 billion surplus.

HANNITY: Rainy day fund.

KASICH: Rainy day fund. And we're up 350,000 jobs. Now, where is the -- you know what I try to say, Sean ...

HANNITY: Let me ask about this because you were ...

KASICH: People want to believe that they're part of things. They want to believe that, as Americans, they and their children can rise and have a better day. Now, if all we're going to talk about are narrow things, and we're not going to connect with the mailman, the milkman, the policeman, the fireman -- I think your dad was a policeman.

HANNITY: Well, he was a -- he was a probation officer. Close.

KASICH: OK, close. You need to connect with him.

HANNITY: He was my policeman...


KASICH: Remember I said that I met Reagan.

HANNITY: Yes, I remember.

KASICH: You know what? The caricature of Reagan we have today is not the Reagan who was there. He was a big tent guy. He was for including people. So was Jack Kemp, another great guy. So it's economic growth and then help people to lift, to be lifted, but hold them accountable.

HANNITY: When you went with Medicaid expansion because you did say you're against "Obama care"...


HANNITY: ... but you did expand Medicare (sic) and accept the federal money for Medicaid in your state.

KASICH: Right.

HANNITY: You got a lot of heat for that. And one of the reasons was, it was when you said the line about Peter, pearly gates, et cetera, people were saying, Oh, does that mean that anybody that disagreed with you maybe isn't acting Christian?

KASICH: Well, maybe they -- maybe they shouldn't have gotten all worked up about that. But I'm not trying to question anybody else's motivations, frankly.


KASICH: But here's what I do believe, Sean. First of all, we brought our money back to Ohio, $14 billion. And secondly, you know, when you treat the drug-addicted and get them on their feet, you save $22,500 a year because they're in prison. I'd rather them be working, which is -- we're having great success with that.

The mentally ill -- it's disgraceful what we've done with the mentally ill. We lock -- if you're bipolar, schizophrenic, we put you in prison?  No, we're not going to do that at a cost of $22,500. Or if you're the working poor and you don't have health insurance, guess where you go? The emergency room. And then everybody here pays.

You know that Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid, somebody told me, two or three times? Did you know that? And he didn't need "Obama care" to do it.

HANNITY: But "Obama care" mentions Medicaid some nearly 400 times in its legislation, and a lot of other Republican governors didn't accept it.

KASICH: Well...


HANNITY: ... repeal "Obama care"...

KASICH: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Listen, Sean, you know that many of them now are tiptoeing into the water.



KASICH: ... so many of them. They're trying to get in there and ...

HANNITY: But do you still want to repeal it, is what I'm asking?

KASICH: Oh, I want to repeal "Obama care." Absolutely...


KASICH: No, no, no. With Medicaid...


KASICH: Medicaid, frankly, has to be sent back to the states and empower the states to deal with their poor. And I can tell you, all the governors would tell you that if you give me my money back with fewer strings and let me be creative, I'll take that deal.

And I think that's what we need to do. We need to empower people at the local level not just with Medicaid but with education, so many different things.

HANNITY: Can we reduce the size of government and reduce government's impact into everybody's daily life? In other words, I don't think there's anybody in this crowd that doesn't feel that they are overtaxed, that their hard work is being punished, almost, rather than rewarded by government, that government doesn't take care in spending their hard-earned dollars.

Is there a way to -- I mean, do you have a plan? Would you reduce the size of government? Would you reduce the amount of money we spend?

KASICH: Well, Sean, you got to look at Ohio again. We have -- I don't think -- we've got almost -- we have, like, $4.9 billion worth of tax cuts. I don't think there's another governor that comes close to that.  And we're balanced and we're running a surplus, and we're up with job creation...

HANNITY: And people are working.

KASICH: ... and people are working.

HANNITY: And you can...

KASICH: I mean, so what -- you know, look, if you were ...

HANNITY: I'm not a liberal here.


KASICH: Let's say -- no. No, Sean, let's say this. Let's say that you are a Martian, OK? And the fearless leader says, Go take a snapshot of America. You know where you'd fly? Right over Ohio because what happens here happens...


KASICH: ... around America.

HANNITY: And you can apply Ohio's success nationally.

KASICH: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: In other words -- on a much bigger scale.

KASICH: But Sean, I was chairman of the Budget Committee in Washington, and we balanced the budget, OK?

HANNITY: All right. We got to take a break.


HANNITY: We are just getting things started with Governor John Kasich as we continue from the Ohio State University...


HANNITY: (INAUDIBLE) sending in questions on Facebook and Twitter.  We'll get to those questions as we continue.


KASICH: I'm going to take what we've learned here in the heartland, that band of brothers and sisters that I work with every day, and we are going to take the lessons of the heartland and straighten out Washington, D.C., and fix our country.






KASICH: You want job creation, you balance the books. And if I'm president, or maybe I should say when I am president...


KASICH: ... OK, I will promise you that my top priority will get this country on a path to fiscal independence, strength. And we will rebuild the economy of this country because creating jobs is our highest moral purpose, and we will move to get that done!



HANNITY: All right, that was Ohio state governor John Kasich. That was earlier today, when he announced, in fact, he is now running for president of the United States. He's with us for a cable exclusive (INAUDIBLE)


HANNITY: All right, I don't want to spend a lot more time on it, but I just want to go back. So you have a great model, a paradigm, you've created of success in Ohio. Does it include spending cuts? Does it include means-testing Social Security? Does it include the penny plan?  Does it include -- you know, tell me, you know...

KASICH: Sean, first of all...

HANNITY: ... what you envision.

KASICH:  First of all, there's this sense -- there's a lot of dead wood in Washington. We know that. So there are programs that can go. You know, I used to say the Commerce Department, some of its functions are valuable, but it ought to be closed down, and I'll tell you why, because it's an attic for political junkies. Somebody works on the campaign, their kid goes to work in the Commerce Department.

But here's -- here's -- the beauty of all this is you don't have to slash. You have to innovate. You know, you have to make things work better at a lower price. And frankly, a lot of those programs need to be shipped out of that town.

And I'll give you a good example. K through 12 education, there's 100 separate programs that come out of Washington. Think about all the bureaucracy that is connected to 100 separate programs. Just send the programs, empower the states to run their own education system.

HANNITY: Let me slow you down. Would that mean writing a check to the states, and the federal government getting out of the education business?

KASICH: Yes. it means that we should run K through 12 education here.

HANNITY: So we really don't need an Education Department...


KASICH: Well, I'm saying to you, let's just...


HANNITY: That's not a trick question.

KASICH: First things first. Let's block grant a bunch of those programs. Let's send it back to the states and hold them accountable for what they do with them because all the strings and everything -- it just drives up the cost of everything.

I'll give you another example. We send -- we tax ourselves at the gas pump. Everybody wants better infrastructure. I had a plan in '98 to do this. We then send our money to Washington. They scrape a bunch off the top and then send it back with less dollars and more strings.

So why don't we just send a few pennies to maintain the interstate and let the states keep their money and build their own infrastructure?

HANNITY: Makes sense.

KASICH: You know, I mean...


KASICH: (INAUDIBLE) Here's what you got to realize. When we did the balanced budget, Senator Domenici and I, we know what got done and we know what didn't get done. So we have a pretty interesting road map as to how you move forward on this.

And it's not a theory. Look, everybody runs for president, they make promises. You ever notice nobody ever keeps them? That's because they make promises they don't know what they're talking about. So if you know what you're talking about...

HANNITY: Let me ask this -- I'm a conservative, registered conservative. I'm angry at Republicans! They don't seem to have a backbone in Washington. Do you agree or disagree?

KASICH: Well, look...

HANNITY: Fair or not fair?

KASICH: Oh, well, they blew the surplus. Republicans blew the surplus, OK?

HANNITY: They blew the surplus. They didn't keep their promise...

KASICH: No, they did. They did.

HANNITY: ... or use their constitutional authority on "Obama care."

KASICH: Well, that's...

HANNITY: They funded...

KASICH: I'm talking about when I left...


KASICH: There was a $5 trillion surplus...

HANNITY: They squandered it.

KASICH: They just blew it all, and we could have used that. We could have used that surplus, for example, to fix Social Security. We could have helped create private accounts for young people so they would believe they're going to see a Social Security check. Right now, they think they'll see a UFO more than a Social Security check.

HANNITY: Shouldn't they have used the power of the purse, which is their constitutional authority, to defund "Obama care"? And didn't it show a little bit of timidity on their part that they didn't?

KASICH: Sean, you know, look, people -- I was there when politicians went (ph), and they didn't care about reelection. We're in a time now where we don't have the kind of leaders to get people to rise to a higher level.

HANNITY: But you're not like that.



KASICH: But you know what? I will tell you, as governor, I -- I -- I told my legislators, OK, we're not going to go backwards on our financial condition here. And if you send me a bunch of stuff that's going to put us back in the hole, I'm going to veto every bit of it. I'm not going to do it.

And guess what? The leaders came through, and we had more tax cuts, we're balanced, we had to dunk more money into our surplus account. I mean, a leader has to stand strong and try to be -- you know, try to be fair about it all.

HANNITY: Let me ask you a question about you, the person. You like that? OK.


KASICH: Sean, you got to understand something...


KASICH: I want to say this one thing.

HANNITY: You notice, he's the host -- he takes over the show.


KASICH: Listen, Sean.

HANNITY: I love it.

KASICH: I have never been in this business of politics just to get elected.

HANNITY: I understand that.

KASICH: I'm in this business of politics to bring change.

HANNITY: That's what I want to ask you. I want to talk about...


HANNITY: You often -- I remember when I first met you, you told me -- we were talking about our parents and civil servants. Both my parents were civil servants. Your dad was a mailman. You lost both your parents in a car accident by a drunk driver.


HANNITY: How did that change you? How does that impact your thinking?

KASICH: Well, I mean, the biggest change, Sean, was -- when I was a little boy, I kind of always felt the presence of God. I mean, I kind of felt him when I would go to church. And then, like most other kids, you know, I kind of -- God became a rabbit's foot. Just press it, you know, shake it when I want a good grade and...


KASICH: I'm going to get elected.  I (INAUDIBLE) my rabbit's foot.  Come on, God. You know, come on through...

HANNITY: Can I borrow yours?



KASICH: But when my parents died, it was the hardest time in my life for our whole family. And a man came to me and he said, Where are you, vis-a-vis the Lord? And I didn't answer the question very well. He said, Well, you have a window of opportunity through your pain to discover it.

So I've been -- I spent 28 years of my life figuring out, Does God exist? Does he care about me? Can I talk to him? Will he listen? And faith for me is about the do's. It's about -- look, he's given us a road map...

HANNITY: Can you use the rabbit's foot to make sure Hillary doesn't get elected?


KASICH: But you know, some people have...


HANNITY:  But it changed you.


HANNITY: It changed you.

KASICH: It's -- it was...


HANNITY: ... in your speeches, you talk a lot about the pearly gates, you talk about Matthew, you talk about Peter.

KASICH: But Sean, over time, it's -- but look, when you talk about that -- you know, I kind of like the pope. I -- kind of? I do like the pope. But I think he's wrong on economics, OK? I mean, who am I to tell the pope he's wrong? But it is the free market system, free enterprise, that has saved more people from poverty than any other system in the world, and that's what we have -- that's what we have to support.

HANNITY: And no Republican has ever won the presidency without the Buckeye State.



KASICH: If you come to this state as a divider, you will lose. You know, I won...

HANNITY:  It's unbelievable, 86 out of 88 counties.

KASICH: ... 86 out of 88 counties. You know, I got 26 percent...

HANNITY: Including Cuyahoga County, which is not...

KASICH: Yes. Cuyahoga went, like, 40 points for Obama. I was able to win that. I didn't have the strongest opponent, but they couldn't find anybody, really. And so, you know...


KASICH: ... the idea of...

HANNITY: That was his one Donald Trump moment. All right.


KASICH: But Sean -- hey, Sean -- one of the great men from Cuyahoga County, Albert Ratner, he's a lifelong Democrat, did fundraisers for me.  And you know what he told people? We raised a lot of money one night, and he said the good news is we raised a lot of money, the bad news is Kasich will never do a thing for it or for you. So just...

HANNITY: Really?

KASICH: Well, yes, because you were in this -- what I tell people is I want to be a CEO. And if you elect me, I'm the CEO and I just got to do my job.

HANNITY: All right, I got to take a break. We'll pick it up from there. When we come back, we'll ask Governor Kasich what he thinks about Hillary Clinton and his Republican rivals.

Then later, Governor Kasich will answer some of the questions you've been sending us on social media, Twitter and Facebook, as we continue from the Ohio State, straight ahead.



KASICH: There are some that are going to try to divide us. We see it all the time. You know (inaudible) forget it. I don't pay any attention to that kind of nonsense. At the end of the day, it's about being together because, you know, it says "We the people."





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... ready for Hillary...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... say China...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... with these new asymmetric...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... fundamental...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... failed tax policy...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... my candidacy for president...

KASICH: What are we going to do about America? And how did we end up with 20 people running for president? And I think about who is it that has the experience that balanced the federal budget? It's very hard to do.  Who is it that's had the experience in turning a major state from big deficits and high unemployment to prosperity?


HANNITY: And still with us for the entire hour -- 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ohio governor John Kasich is with us.

Let me ask -- you said something that surprised me about Hillary Clinton. You said -- about the IRS abuse, targeting conservatives -- you said, I'm more worried about what we're going to do to fix America than Hillary's e-mail server. And you said, I don't believe you'd beat her talking about Benghazi or e-mails.

KASICH: No, I don't.

HANNITY: You have to believe those things are important.

KASICH: Oh, yes, they're going to -- they would come up in a campaign. But Sean, my opinion, the Republican who can best articulate a big message -- because look, I've known Hillary a long time. When I got engaged to be married, she came to the party, OK? I mean, I don't hate people because I don't -- you know, I don't agree with them.

HANNITY: Can you call her and ask her to come on my show?


KASICH: I'm not sure she's going to take my call these days, but sure.

But here's the thing. I believe she does things in very small ways...


KASICH: ... you know, very segmented ways, appeal to this group, that group, this group. I think it's a big message. You know, I think it's an overwhelming message that overwhelms the little kind of little cutouts that she has.

Now, if people want to get into with her, you know, on all these little issues, I think she'll beat them.

HANNITY: Why do you think -- well, let me give you a poll. Fifty- seven percent of Americans find her dishonest and untrustworthy. Do you find her dishonest and untrustworthy? Well, first, let's ask the audience.


HANNITY: Well, what are you?

KASICH: I'm not going to start questioning people's honesty or -- I just don't do that, Sean. I mean, where does that get us?  I want the county to be unified. Can I win by pointing out Benghazi, the e-mails, the Clinton Foundation, but having a much larger message about bringing this country back like we did in this state and like we did when I was in Washington? We don't have to spend all --


KASICH: Bill -- think about this. Bill Clinton was president, OK? I -- I was never very close to Bill Clinton, OK? And here's what happened.  He's in the middle of all those troubles. I didn't like all the troubles that he was in. And at the same time all that was going on, we were able to balance to the budget.

Let's put the country first and the personal attacks second. We can all have opinions, but I don't want to be a voice of negativity in America.  I want to be a voice of positivity in America.

HANNITY: What people ask me what I'm looking for --


HANNITY: I haven't made up my mind yet.

KASICH: About what?

HANNITY: About who I'm voting for, for president.

KASICH: He said he's hasn't made up his mind.

HANNITY: But I'll tell you what I'm looking for.

KASICH: An old buddy like me? Come on.

HANNITY: You're definitely on the top five.



KASICH: And you know what? You're one of my top -- you're in my top 10 of favorite people to talk --

HANNITY: Top 10, gee.


HANNITY: I'm looking for the most conservative person, because I because I believe conservatism works --

KASICH: Yes, so do I.

HANNITY: -- with an inspiring vision that can articulate that vision, and can win.

KASICH: Yes, but, Sean, but Sean, there's something else. You know, I was on Hugh Hewitt's show the other day and he goes, well, electability.  I said who cares about electability? How about capability? And within the definition --


KASICH: Within the definition of capability, of course, there's electability. But what if we elect somebody and they don't change anything? I mean, what's that's going to do? So, we've got to have somebody ready to go. And you know what, we can all talk. We're politicians. We're talkers. But it's not about talkers, it's about doers, the record.


HANNITY: Let's take a break. Coming up, we'll ask Governor Kasich what his foreign policy agenda will be if he's elected president. Later we'll also answer some of your questions you've been sending on social media as we continue from the Ohio state. Be right back.



KASICH: I learned, how do we get the Pentagon to work together, the services to work together. I'll never forget my experience before the Gulf War meeting with soldiers out in the desert and understand the concerns that they had about carrying out their mission.



KASICH: Our military must be improved. We need to cut the bureaucracy, and we need to strengthen our services. I'm the person that doesn't like to spend a lot of money, but in this case, national security, climbs to the very top of the heap because we must be strong and we must assume our roles as leaders of the world.



HANNITY: And still with us for a cable exclusive is 2016 Republican presidential candidate Governor John Kasich is with us.


HANNITY: We haven't talked about foreign policy yet, maybe what we'd call the Kasich Doctrine. We have ISIS. We have Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, radical Islam, a president that won't acknowledge it. You've got China, they're expansionist. You've got Russia, Putin. And you've got a horrible Iran deal. Piece of cake, right?

KASICH: Well, Sean, look. First of all, I've had a lot of experience. I don't need to like go places to learn, OK? I sat on the Defense Committee.

HANNITY: I said --

KASICH: No, I sat on the Defense Committee for 18 years. If I take a trip, it's going to be to discuss America, not to go over there and to learn about all these countries.

Look, the people I work with, John Tower, Barry Goldwater, Gary Hart, some of the smartest people on Defense ever. And the fact is, is that you spend that time and you learn a whole lot. So I've traveled world in terms of, you know, the first Gulf War. I was in the desert with soldiers. I said what do you think? I didn't want to talk to the general. I wanted to talk to the soldier. So I'm sitting out here in the sand, I can't call my wife, I can't have a drink. I'm cold and they're telling me they're going to come and I don't know when they're going to come. I can't sit here forever. I got back on the plane and I told all the people I went with, we have no choice, we've got to go. We've got to go.

HANNITY:  How do we deal with radical Islam, in particular ISIS?

KASICH: Well, I said months ago, Sean, that -- first of all, about a year ago, I called McCain, Senator McCain, and John Boehner, and said we need to support the opposition in Syria because Assad has to go. I also a couple of months ago said we need to get a coalition, because we have to rebuild our alliances. We need a coalition. We need to go and we need to defeat ISIS. We need to degrade them and destroy them now, because pay me something, or pay me a lot more later.


HANNITY: But wait a minute, does that mean maybe boots on the ground?

KASICH: Oh, yeah. I said that. Of course it might -- but let's get, not just us, but a group together, including some people that share our views in the Middle East, the Jordanians, the -

HANNITY: Egyptians, the Saudis.

KASICH: Yeah. Absolutely.

HANNITY: Obviously, the Israelis.

KASICH: Absolutely, and the Israelis. And then, you know, when it comes to Putin, I don't understand why we are not giving the opposition in Ukraine the weapons they need to defend themselves. I mean, you know the history of Ukraine has been terrible. We need to allow them to fight for themselves. I don't understand why we're not doing it.

And the deal with Iran, you know, they're not only to get a nuclear weapon, but now they're going to have all this cash to support the Hamases and the Hezbollahs. It's a very bad agreement. And so -- and over in Asia --

HANNITY: You'd repeal it from day one?

KASICH: Well, look, my sense on that is -- I mean, I don't know where we're going to be. I hope the Senate is going to have such a profound impact --

HANNITY: I don't think so.

KASICH: Well, we will see. And if it's a bad deal, we absolutely will have to do what's in the best interests of the United States of America, not in the best interest of the United Nations.

HANNITY: Iran cannot, under a Kasich presidency, ever get a bomb and you would do whatever is necessary to prevent it?

KASICH: Well, I can't promise that, Sean. People who come on and say they can promise that, I mean, what are we going to do? Go to war? We have to see what it's all about, because -- let me ask you this. What if -

HANNITY: All right, you be the host. Go ahead.

KASICH: No -- what if we don't have the capability to wipe it all out? But what I would do is I would reassert the sanctions and I would drive them as far down as I could until they change their behavior. You don't take anything off the table, though. I'm not going to take anything off the table. But I'm also not going to come on a show, try to say the right thing and get everybody cheering. I want to do the right thing.

HANNITY: I'm not asking -- I want your opinion. That's why I'm asking.

KASICH: No, no. My opinion is this is a very bad deal, I hope it falls apart. I think they fell in love with this deal.


KASICH: Secondly, I would have kept the sanctions on. And if I became the President of the United States, which I think I have a very good chance of doing, if their behavior has not dramatically changed, I'd try to slap the sanctions back on.

Now, we're going to have to rebuild our relationships with our allies, because they're in tatters.

HANNITY: How do you analyze a president that can't acknowledge radical Islamic terrorism?

KASICH: Well, look, they also said in that administration we should lead from behind. I don't know how you lead from behind. We need to lead in the world because our allies, as much as they'll crab about the United States, they need us and they all know it.

Now China, for a second. You know, I don't know why we didn't put a carrier group through the South China Sea and deliver a clear message to the Chinese that you don't own this. What, are you kidding me? I mean, there is so much we can do to be strong.

And we need to rebuild our military. You know, we've got almost a million bureaucrats inside the Pentagon, bureaucrats. We -- we have significantly increased the amount of money for defense spending since Reagan, but we got half of the capability now, because it's been bureaucrats that have slowed every process down and we need accountability and a strong defense.

HANNITY: We got to take a break. More with Governor John Kasich.


HANNITY: He'll answer some of your media questions and we'll get his take on the other candidates in this race, as we continue from beautiful Columbus, Ohio, straight ahead.


KASICH: And folks, as it has been said many times, the light on the on the hill cannot be hidden. America is that city and you are that light.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." We're broadcasting tonight from the Ohio State University.


HANNITY: We're here with Governor John Kasich. All right, you're number 16 in this race. I'm going to ask you -- one word answers, whatever comes to your mind. This is the lightning round.

KASICH: Oh, that's not going to happen.

HANNITY: Oh, yes -


KASICH: That's the definition of fat chance.

HANNITY: Thank you for cooperating. We really appreciate it.

Barack Obama.

KASICH: Not been a good president at all. It's very disappointing.

HANNITY: Hillary Clinton.

KASICH: Nice lady. Should never be president.

HANNITY: Bill Clinton.

KASICH: Not my cup of tea.


HANNITY: Donald Trump.

KASICH: I'll take a pass.


HANNITY: I didn't say pass --

KASICH: OK, I'll tell you what. A couple nice golf courses.



HANNITY: Ted Cruz.

KASICH: Don't know him.

HANNITY: Rand Paul.

KASICH: Did a good job of talking about our civil liberties.

HANNITY: Marco Rubio.

KASICH: Young and exciting.

HANNITY: Scott Walker.

KASICH: Good guy, has been a good governor.

HANNITY: OK. That's about the main list that we have here.

Let's go to some Facebook questions.

KASICH: How about Sean Hannity?

HANNITY: No, that's all right.


HANNITY: I'm not important.

All right, Lisa is writing on Facebook, "We have so many people on welfare, 46 million, and government assistance, some who are multigenerational. Do you have any plans with welfare reform with more accountability for those who are receiving assistance?"

These are quick answers, lightning.

KASICH: Well, first of all, what we want is for people, when they go to the welfare office, to have one person that manages them so they can get the skills to go out and get a job. And we want businesses in the welfare office so that we can train people for jobs that exist.

HANNITY: Facebook. Karen writes, "Would you agree to revoking passports of those visiting countries known to support terrorism or those people who have terrorist ties?"

KASICH: Yeah, I would think that's probably a very, very good idea.  And I can't understand it when they come back from these places where they become radicalized, how do they get back in? It's part of this whole federal government that's not working.

HANNITY: I haven't asked you a lot about some social issues, and immigration is a huge issue. You supported, at one point, a pathway to citizenship.

KASICH: No, what I said is I wouldn't take it off the table. Here's my answer in this. First of all, finish the fence, use modern technologies, drones, the sensors and all these things.

HANNITY: Do that first.

KASICH: Yes. Then have a guest worker program so people can come in, work and then leave. Our program is too narrow now.

The 12 million that are here, I think we ought to find out who they are. Obviously, they're going to have to pay a penalty for having jumped the fence. But at the same time, you know, if they've committed crimes, the got to be deported, put in jail. If anybody's been sneaking in recently, they should be sent back. And we need to look at our whole immigration system.

But we got to fix this. In all the political debate and the polls and all that other's nonsense. Just get it fixed. And you know what Reagan did? Reagan did amnesty.

HANNITY: But he regretted it.

KASICH: Did he tell you that?

HANNITY: Yeah, he did.

KASICH: OK, good.

HANNITY: No, but he did. He --

KASICH: But look, I don't like this, but we got to control the border and we got to have reasonable programs.

HANNITY: All right, a couple of other quick ones. You're pro-life.

KASICH: Yes, I am.

HANNITY: You're against marijuana legalization.

KASICH: Oh, yes. Drugs are a scourge in this country.

HANNITY: You did support the assault weapons ban.

KASICH: Yeah, but I'm a Second Amendment guy. You know --

HANNITY: You got an F rating that year from the NRA.

KASICH: What did I get the last year?

HANNITY: You got an A.

KASICH: Yes, thank you.

HANNITY: OK. But do you regret the assault weapons ban?

KASICH: I don't regret that I learned something, and I learned that you can put that kind of a law in but it isn't going to have any impact, so why pass laws that aren't going to have an effect?

HANNITY: No, no, that, it's really, because I'm a Second Amendment guy, too, that the gun's basically cosmetic. It's got a bad name for it.

KASICH: Look, it's the Second Amendment, people, you know, believe in it, it's about freedom, it's about independence. It's about a lot of things.

HANNITY: Law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry a weapon, concealed -

KASICH: Oh, yes. I've signed bills like that.

HANNITY: OK. All right, we're going to take a break. When we come back, more with Governor John Kasich as we continue from Columbus, Ohio, and the Ohio State straight ahead.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." All right, we like to give the candidates now the final 60 seconds uninterrupted to explain to you, the American people, why they think you should elect them to be the next Commander in Chief of the United States.

Governor Kasich?

KASICH: Well, it's record, it's experience, and it's the testing, and, you know, serving on the Defense Committee for 18 years, being Budget Committee Chairman, and being one of the chief architects of balancing the budget and restoring prosperity in the country, private sector experience, and then being governor of a state, that was in deep trouble that we've been able to rescue, and the knowledge to be able to lift people.

And, Sean, I think that's what it is. It's to have a stronger economy, create more jobs and make sure that no one gets left behind, no one. And that's what we've done here. That's always been my lifetime dreams and motivations. And I'm going to leave it right there.

HANNITY: You're going to leave -- that's your pitch for president.  Where do you go after this? You're headed to --

KASICH: I'm going to New Hampshire. Have you heard of that place?  That's where I'm headed.

HANNITY: I've been there quite a bit. New Hampshire, Iowa --

KASICH: Yes, and then South Carolina and Michigan. And you know, I was up in Michigan --


KASICH: When I was in Michigan, I --


KASICH: I said I know there's an elephant in the room, but I'll tell you what, for the rest of this election, let's just leave those differences behind.

HANNITY: Is there -- by the way, Ohio had a great year last year.

KASICH: Yes, we did.


HANNITY: Governor, it's always good to see you. Thank you so much.  Governor John Kasich.


HANNITY: Thank you for being with us, and we hope you have a great night.

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