Gov. John Kasich: When the voting starts we'll see reality

Presidential candidate slams Trump surge and talks ISIS strategy on 'Special Report'


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 9, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM: Joining me now from New York is Ohio governor, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.  Governor -- welcome.


BREAM:  All right.  You were asked about Mr. Trump today.  I want to play a little bit of what you had to say about his candidacy.  


KASICH:  Whether in his plans to attack Hispanics, Muslims, databases, insults to women, and so far as to make fun of a reporter with a disability.  People don't buy this.  Oh, there may be a few.  But this doesn't represent what we are.  


BREAM:  Governor, you said some people buy it, maybe a few.  I want to point to our brand new Fox News polling out of South Carolina which puts Mr. Trump at the top with 35 percent among South Carolina's likely GOP primary voters.  How do you square that with what had you to say today?  

KASICH:  Well, I mean polls are one thing.  You know, I think to a larger degree, if I got put on television as much as Donald Trump does, I would be at 40 percent.  I mean -- and Shannon, here's the other thing.  
When people actually go to vote, then we're going to know what the truth is and it's coming.

I mean Iowa is not far from now and then we follow up with New Hampshire.  And I think we're going to be beginning to see voting and voting is going to reveal what's true.  I will tell you in New Hampshire I have a great team on the ground and we believe that we're going to do extremely well there.  And I have to tell you, when the voting starts, I think we're going to see reality because people are not going to vote for somebody who is a divider.

I can tell you this.  You come to Ohio and talk like that, you got no chance to win and a Republican hasn't won the White House without winning Ohio ever.

So you'll begin to see things start to settle down in my opinion.  I could be wrong, but I don't think so.  

BREAM:  All right.  Governor, in this South Carolina polling you're at 1 percent.  Of course that's just after New Hampshire.  How critical is New Hampshire for you?  How do you gain the momentum to get attention in these early states?  

KASICH:  Well look, I mean part of the problem I have in some of these states is low name ID.  So, you know, in Iowa we are putting some resources in, not a lot.  But in New Hampshire, I've got the support of John Sununu and the best team on the ground.  I will be a story coming out of New Hampshire.

I was in South Carolina earlier this week.  And so you know, with -- with success is going to come name identification.  And you know, a lot of people said I wouldn't get in the race, I did.  They said I wouldn't make the stage, I did.  They said I would run out of money, I haven't.

Just hold on and you will see that we can produce results.  And up in New Hampshire with the data that we have, experience really does matter.  
The experience of balancing a budget -- today I made a big foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, very well received.

I think that people will ultimately look towards somebody who has been a reformer and a job creator and somebody who has foreign policy experience.  And Shannon -- that's what you're going to see and I believe that the results are going to be extremely good.  

BREAM:  Well, Trump has got a massive lead in New Hampshire that you'll have to overcome in the coming weeks.  He also is starting to make noise about potentially not living up to a pledge to stay within the party, run within the party and support the nominee.

Here's what you said today when somebody asked you whether you would stick with that pledge?  


KASICH:  I signed a pledge -- that's why you have to be careful with what pledges you sign -- that I would support the Republican nominee.  Now look is it possible that you change your mind?  Yes.  

It takes something extreme to do it but I will tell you, sir.  There's no way that Donald Trump is going to be president.  


BREAM:  Is Donald Trump that something extreme that would get you out of the pledge, Governor?  

KASICH:  Well you know, my concern is, America can't be divided -- Shannon.  All of your reports are about terrorism threats, lousy economy.  
Look, at the end we're not going to be great as a country when we're fighting with one another.  Picking on every group you can imagine.

We're stronger as a country when we're united and when the division gets to the point where it's overwhelming, then I think I have to take a second look.  I hope he changes his rhetoric.  I hope he becomes a unifier.  
But if he doesn't and the divisions and the extremism continues, I've got to take another look, Shannon.

I mean I know I made a pledge and I like to keep my pledges.  And almost always I do.  And if I don't I'll be the first one to explain exactly why.

Let's not go there because I don't believe he's going to be -- I just don't believe he's going to be the nominee.  I just don't take it that seriously, to be honest with you.  

BREAM:  Ok.  Well polling at this point at least shows us differently.

I want to talk to you about some of the foreign policy items you talked about today.  

KASICH:  Yes, yes.  But Shannon, you know, polling is a picture of the past.  It's also you know one of the polls was 400 people out of 325 million Americans.  We'll see what happens when we vote.  And then all the discussion of polling and where we are, it will all go by the wayside.  
Then we'll know.  

BREAM:  Yes.  Well the trend hasn't changed.  So you're right, we'll see once the actual voting starts.

I want to ask you about ISIS today.  You said that at some point there would have to be more ground troops on the ground.  You said sooner is better than later, that we put off the inevitable by waiting.

How do you sell that when there is much opposition to putting troops on the ground and certainly building a coalition that you know where the U.S. is not primarily the source of these ground troops?  

KASICH:  Well Shannon, first of all I think we have to be on the ground -- the United States of America.  It's no different than the first Gulf War where we had a coalition of Arabs and our friends in NATO.

And the fact of the matter is, they're all under attack.  We're under attack.  I mean everybody is concerned and ISIS has to be stopped.  And what I've said and I said it since last February, is that we need to have a coalition.

Secondly, an air campaign will not get it done.  When we just think we can win from the air, we are really misguided.  And we're going to have to be in the air, but we're also going to have to be on the ground and it has to be a coalition.  And the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be.

And how do I know this?  I served on the defense committee for 18 years.  I followed national security issues all of my lifetime.  My national security adviser is the former national security adviser to President Reagan.  I know what we have to do.

Plus we have to improve intelligence, coordinate intelligence around the world and in addition to that we have to deal with what we saw in San Bernardino where we know these two people were communicating with people who the intelligence community was watching.  But yet we couldn't hear them.  They encrypted their communication and this is something that has to be resolved.  And it is an essential and vital issue for our ability to protect ourselves at home.

So go and destroy ISIS where they are.  Start to tell people what the West represents.  Begin to review this whole visa program we have so we don't have dangerous people coming into the country.  And in addition make sure that our counterterrorism task forces in the United States are well- funded and they have the tools to disrupt plots.  

BREAM:  Governor Kasich, we'll see you out on the campaign trail.  Thanks for your time tonight.  

KASICH:  I hope to see you -- Shannon.  It would be great.   Thank you.  

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