VIDEO: Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich Exclusive Interview
THIS ELECTION CYCLE has certainly proven that millions of Americans are frustrated with their federal government.
That’s understandable, given the gridlock and hyper-partisanship that blanket nearly every issue connected to Washington. The good news is that South Carolinians this week have a special opportunity to help fix the problem.
In Saturday’s Republican presidential primary, voters committed to changing how their federal government functions should ignore the blather of candidates without real credentials to lead the country. Instead, voters should choose Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his actual record of improving federal and state governments.
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Mr. Kasich is a pragmatic leader with experience as a congressman and governor. He was mostly successful in both jobs, playing a key role in balancing the federal budget and in turning Ohio’s state budget to a surplus from a deficit.
He understands the fundamental lesson we all learned as children and that we teach our children now: Accomplishments only come from working with others.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1982, the only Republican that year to defeat an incumbent Democrat. Twelve years later, after the Newt Gingrich-led GOP sweep of Congress, Mr. Kasich became chairman of the House Budget Committee. One former congressman told The Atlantic magazine last year that he was the “Paul Ryan of his day,” a reference to the current House speaker and most recent Budget Committee chairman with a reputation for austerity.
As committee chairman, Mr. Kasich helped negotiate the plan that balanced the federal budget for the first time in decades. Mr. Gingrich, the former Georgia congressman who won the S.C. Republican presidential primary four years ago, called Gov. Kasich one of the four conservative visionaries of the 20th Century.
Mr. Kasich, 63, is in his second term as Ohio governor. Under his leadership, the state budget’s projected $8 billion deficit was transformed into a $2 billion surplus. The unemployment rate has fallen to less than 5 percent (4.6 in December) from more than 9 percent. Taxes have been cut, and new industry has moved into the state.
That record alone is impressive. But Gov. Kasich stands out even more because of his leadership approach.
Kasich: I’ll stay ‘relentlessly positive’
In a meeting with The State’s editorial board, he said the country’s welfare is more important than adhering to Republican Party ideology. “The party is my vehicle,” he said, “not my master.”
That view is important because the public has too often been hurt by partisanship that paralyzes government, wastes time or blocks meaningful improvements.
When many other Republican governors, including South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, rejected extra Medicaid funding under Obamacare, Gov. Kasich accepted the money. He said it was more important to help Ohio’s poor than to stand in stubborn opposition to everything that carries the president’s name.
Still, he clings to bedrock GOP positions of cutting federal regulations, reducing federal taxes and fiscal restraint.
He refuses to pander to those upset about our nation’s leadership. Rather than turning Americans’ concerns into anger, he prefers to be positive. The United States fundamentally is in great shape, he says, although the country has problems. He believes those can be solved with proper leadership that includes listening, educating, and working with both Democrats and Republicans.
VIDEO: Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich Exclusive Interview with The State’s editorial board
Other candidates in the Republican field have skills similar to Gov. Kasich’s, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. But we believe Mr. Kasich stands out because of his combined experience as a congressman and governor and because of his accomplishments.
Being president is different than running a company, where the highest-ranking executive can demand that his or her agenda be followed. The Constitution sets up three equal branches of government, each acting as a balance to the others.
A president can’t force his or her agenda on the country. A president’s accomplishments are best achieved by leading the American people and the Congress. That’s the government created by the Founding Fathers.
A president’s leadership skills can’t begin and end with insults, bullying and firing people. His or her skills must include diplomacy, toughness, listening and convincing.
On Saturday, South Carolinians can vote for candidates who are angry and scream for change. Or voters can choose John Kasich, a candidate whose leadership approach has delivered results.