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OTR Interviews

Gov. Kasich: Why Ohio opposes taking in Syrian refugees

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 17, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, 'ON THE RECORD' GUEST HOST: So the number of U.S. states that are now opposed to taking in Syrian refugees and you know the president has said that we should take in about 10,000, that list is getting longer. Now 33 states have joined that chorus saying not here.

And today speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, says that he plans to bring legislation to create a pause, just a pause for now in this U.S. Refugee Program. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves.

CARLY FIORINA, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Islamic terrorism believes they are at war with us and so we must wage a war against them and win.

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Refugees are pouring into our great country from Syria. We don't even know who they are.

OBAMA: Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.

FIORINA: Stop the flow of Syrian refugees into this country.

TRUMP: They could be ISIS. They could be anybody. What's our president doing? Is he insane?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Remarkable. One of those 33 states is Ohio. Ohio governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate, governor John Kasich, goes ON THE RECORD for us tonight from Boston.

Governor, good evening. Good to have you here.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Hi, there.

Talk to us about your decision and why you believe that there should be at least a pause that you don't want to let any of these Syrian refugees you're your state?

KASICH: Well, Martha, you know, one of my daughters said to me last night why, daddy, why have you decided not to let them in?

And I said, Reese, the reason why I have decide is because we don't know who they are. We don't know where they come from. We can't really trace them. And the last thing we want to do is bring them into Ohio, or bring them into the neighborhood right where we live or in our friend's neighborhoods and then bad things happen. So we need to take a pause on this.

And, Martha, you know, in some quarters have been criticized for having a big heart. I do have a big heart. But also have a pretty good brain and it seems to me as though it makes all the sense in the world to take a pause on this so we can determine who these people are. And until our intelligence officials tell us clearly that we are in a position, where we can determine who they are.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, I'm curious what you thought when you watched the president or, you know, watched it after the fact -- perhaps yesterday when he spoke in Turkey.

And he talked about the fact that this is just, you know, it's a handful of radicals. He said these are just, you know, a group of people who are seeking glory and they are very adept at social media.

What did you think about the way he characterized this group?

KASICH: Well, Martha, look. I really believe we need a coalition made up not only of NATO forces, but also the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, the gulf states and we cannot wait. I believe we need to go and move with air power and that boots on the ground to destroy ISIS where they exist, particularly in Iraq and Syria. And in the short-term, I would support no-fly zones.

I have proposed them with sanctuaries for refugees not to have to leave to be defended by people like the Jordanians. People like the Kurds. And perhaps some humanitarian assistance in the Jordanians and the Saudis if they will look out for these people.

But the president, I mean, look, at the end of the day, Martha, this is an attack on western civilization. We saw today that the Germans emptied their stadium.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

KASICH: This is not going to go away. And you got to go to the root of this problem and then you have to win the war of ideas. The Judeo- Christian western ethic needs to be promoted throughout the world to let people know what we are for -- freedom of speech, freedom to gather, equality for women, so many things and not the path to death like ISIS represents.

MACCALLUM: Well, you know what, the president would say everything that you just mentioned is in my plan. And he would say, you know, folks likes you were popping off, was the expression that he used yesterday. And, you know, he basically was irritated. He said, look, we are doing all these things. So everybody just back off, essentially.

KASICH: Well, first of all, he did say that the no-fly zone was a consideration, but then who would manage the no-fly zone on the ground? I've already said, it ought to be the Kurds, Jordanians, other people from the Middle East who can do that.

Secondly, there is no indication that we're going to put a coalition together to go and destroy ISIS. I not only believe it ought to be comprised of our NATO partners, but also friends and allies or people with common purpose in the Middle East because this is an existential crisis that affects countries in the Middle East. Of course, it effects the west, Martha. And the longer we wait, the more we are going to have to pay later because ultimately we are going to have to do this.

There is no way around it. And when we do it, we also need to lead with good ideas about who we are in the west and do both of those things together and it will work.

MACCALLUM: It's pretty heavy lift to get some of those parties on board and they haven't been that way yet.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: We got to work it. That's what diplomacy is.

That's what leader -- that's what a leader does, Martha. He brings people together and explains the bigger purpose and the vision. And let me tell you, we have no choice. We can't cower, we can't hide, we can't runaway and we can't delay.

And I hope the president will get that message and that we can act with America being a leader which we've always been to confront these giant issues throughout our history.

MACCALLUM: Governor, thank you. Good to see you tonight.

KASICH: OK, Martha. Thank you.