Gov. Kasich says a 'unifying message is essential' for 2016

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," April 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: While Senator Paul, Senator Cruz and Governors Walker and Bush are getting lots of attention as early intenders, several well respected out, let's have run big stories on another potential candidate, like the National Journal piece entitled "The Republican Presidential Contender Everyone's Overlooking."

That man is Governor John Kasich of Ohio. The National Journal writer went on to say that he would be a formidable candidate. And I spoke with the governor a short time ago.


KELLY: Governor, great to see you. Let's start with your reaction to Senator Rand Paul officially getting into this race.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO: Well, Megyn, look, I've tried this once before, 16, 17 years ago, to try to run, and it's -- it's a really awesome effort and so anybody who wants to run, I take my hat off and salute them for the fact that they're willing to move forward and have the courage to -- to take this -- this effort on. So, good for him and bully for Rand Paul.

KELLY: You know, he's already getting hit by conservatives in the Republican Party as being too weak on foreign policy. I mean, Senator Lindsey Graham came out said, that he is to the left of President Obama. And didn't come out and -- and say whether he would vote for him over Hillary Clinton, and he's not the only one who has criticized Rand Paul as being too weak on their view -- on foreign policy. What's your view on it?

KASICH: Well, I'm not in the -- the business of criticizing Rand Paul or anybody else, Megyn. Look, I -- all my options are on the table for moving forward and considering a presidential run. And I think it's most important for me to talk about what I believe.

KELLY: You know how - if you wind up running, we're going to make you -- we're going to make you do it. We -- because we want you to say what's different between you and the other --


KASICH: You might (ph) --

KELLY: -- you and the other Republicans.


KASICH: -- well, you know what guys, -- look, I said I believe in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment which is don't -- don't attack a fellow Republican --

KELLY: Right.

KASICH: -- at least not most of the time instead, look --


KELLY: Let's talk about you -- let's talk about you --

KASICH: -- we'll see where all it goes.

KELLY: Let's talk about you because you -- you are one of these, I don't know, I hope that's not offensive, but sleeper candidates that a lot of people in the know are saying, you better watch this, watch this guy, because he could come up and win the entire thing.

KASICH: Look, we want to be united as a country, Megyn and you know what happens when we're divided, we're weaker. But we're actually weaker at a time when we have so many enemies abroad that just despise the way we even exist here, and there's so many things that need to be fixed in our country, whether it is immigration, whether it is making sure our kids get a better education, the divisions between -- between African-Americans and whites in our country.

These things, of course, can be fixed. But they require a spirit of unity, uplifting people and, you know, what I've done in -- in my job is to make sure that everybody feels they have a chance. That's not a handout, but a hand up.


KASICH: And I -- I think that's what people want in the country and some commonsense, and I'm a believer that we had (ph) old American dream. My dad carried mail on his back and, you know, I was given a chance to become governor of Ohio, and maybe even run for president. So, I want that for everybody in our country and I -- I think a unifying message is essential.

KELLY: But the pundits say that, you know, your blue collar roots and your ability to reach out to all people will really help you. And they say, you know, you're no Mitt Romney in that -- in that respect because he had difficulty connecting. However, it's not all rainbows and unicorns for John Kasich as it won't be for any of the folks who decide to run ultimately.

The -- the thing that the Republicans question about you is, they say, "Well, he supports Common Core," and a lot of Republicans don't like Common Core. They say that, you know, back in the day your -- you favored Bill Clinton's Assault Rifle Ban, so the NRA may say, "Oh, wait, watch out for him." You wound up getting behind that, an expansion of Medicaid in your state and, you know, some of the core fiscal conservatives don't -- don't favor the expansion of any government program even one that help so many people like Medicaid and to those folks who raised those concerns. What do you say?

KASICH: Let me answer that. Let me answer them all quickly. First of all, what we have in Ohio are high standards for our children with the curriculum to deliver high standards set by school boards. Not by John Kasich, not by Washington. It is locally driven, high standards for our kids and the curriculum developed by local school boards.

I can't think of anything that represents local control more than that. In terms of the assault weapon ban, you know, here is a governor of Ohio, I was supported overwhelmingly by -- by the NRA because I do believe in the second amendment.

And in regard to Medicaid expansion, that's -- that's a matter of bringing our money back from Washington that's Ohioans money to treat the mentally ill, the working poor, and the drug addicted and frankly if we don't treat them, they're going to be in and out of our emergency rooms or in and out of our prisons with an ongoing societal cost.

You know, somebody told me yesterday there was a poll that came out, and I have the highest rating of any governor in any of the swing or critical swing states in the -- that I know of in the country. And why is that? Well, because Ohio is doing better economically, and if we don't do better economically, then nothing else matters. Yes.

KELLY: So, when I hear you talking about you're looking at the polls in the swing states, and now I know you're taking a trip to South Carolina, the same place Spartanburg (ph) where Ted Cruz just went and Jeb Bush just went. You know, South Carolina, is beautiful this time of year, and, you know, I'm sure it's just purely coincidental, but when are you going to make a decision, at all, if you are going to make a decision, about running for president?

KASICH: Well, Megyn, look, I talked to a guy who was thinking about running for president. He didn't -- he said, "John, take your time." But we're taking steps to move forward to elevate what I'm trying to do. And I will make a decision when I think it's the right time, and based on the right reasons and you'll be one of the first to know --


KELLY: Do you think --

KASICH: -- when I decide.


KELLY: -- do you think it'd be really hot out --

KASICH: Yeah, I'll be back.

KELLY: -- or do you think it'd be more like spring when it's raining?

KASICH: It's probably going to be when it's starting to get warmer, Megyn, in many different ways.


KELLY: I'll take it. Governor Kasich, great to see you. Thank you so much for being here.

KASICH: Thank you, Megyn.


KELLY: Had to try.

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