The Deseret News/KSL Editorial Board extended invitations to three presidential candidates visiting Utah to meet with members of the board: Ohio Gov. John Kasich; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Kasich accepted that invitation and met in person Saturday with the board for an hour. Cruz also accepted an invitation but was only available to meet by phone and answered questions for a half hour.
We've provided audio so you can listen to Kasich's meeting:
The questions focused on the economy, religious liberty, the Supreme Court, immigration, foreign policy, federalism and federal lands. It should be noted that when Cruz makes reference to Kasich’s inability to win a brokered convention because of Rule 40B (created in 2012), which requires any nominees to have won a majority of eight delegations to be nominated, it is possible the Rules Committee could change the rules at convention.
Here's a a transcript of the meeting
Deseret News: So we're really grateful that you would take time to --
Governor John Kasich: I'm grateful that you would come in on a Saturday and even let me come in to do this. The -- I'm -- I appreciate it very much.
DN: We -- we'd like to make this an on-the-record conversation. If there's any need to go off the record, --
JK: I'll tell you.
DN: -- let us know.
JK: Oh, there's Schrimpf.
DN: We'll keep it as brief as possible that way.
JK: Look, whatever you want. We'll roll. Let's go.
JK: Let's roll.
DN: So, Governor, Utah has had one of the best economies in the country, unemployment, terrific growth in the economy,
JK: Good demographics.
DN: good demographics, all during this last several years that President Obama has been in the White House. Should President Obama get some of the credit for that growth?
JK: I don't think so. I'll tell you why I say it. You know, clearly -- look, I think Utah has just taken advantage of all the assets that it has, and when a state can figure out how to take advantage of assets, it's amazing what can happen. I mean, our state -- we had -- we were down 350,000 jobs, and my jobs report yesterday was -- we're up 417,000, but every time that --
Look, the wind's been at all of our faces from Washington. You need three things to grow, in my opinion. You need common sense regulations -- not no regulations, but not -- but common sense regulations, lower taxes on business and people, and you need fiscal responsibility. So when we look at Washington, the regulations are out of control, the taxes are going up on virtually everyone, and the budget is out of control. So you get those things going, and the national economy can grow, and it can put the wind at your back.
But, look, if you look at most states, most states are rickety-rockety. Their budgets -- they're using smoke and mirrors, and -- but we're fortunate. We're running now a $2 billion surplus, but we've done all the things that I just said. Plus, I tell you, because you people are sophisticated, what we did is I actually privatized economic development, and the way I did it was -- well, we did it is we went to Wall Street. We issued $1.6 billion worth of bonds, and we got a really good price on them. We took the -- what we did is we got the bonds. We bought the l- -- Ohio's liquor business, and the reason why we got good rates is because most people know when times are good people drink, and when times are bad, they drink more. So we got good bonds, and we bought the liquor business, and now we have, you know, after paying back the bonds, $100 million-plus.
And the- -- we then went out and we hired people who were experiences in the -- sort of the adjacencies that we thought we were strong in. So what would those be? IT, energy -- potentially. That's still very nascent -- medical devices, financial services. So we hired, you know, health care. So we hired people who actually can talk to business people, which is very unusual, and it's really been a great contributor to our success, and so we keep firing out on those cylinders.
And so states are really creative. You know, I -- and we had a lot of potential in Ohio. I became governor at the best time. Things couldn't get any worse. So --
DN: And -- but it has been a bit uneven. I think people admit that, right? So places like Cleveland, where the convention will be this summer, it seems like it's lagged way . . .
JK: Oh, no, no, no. Cleveland's doing great. How do you think it got picked for the convention? People were stunned when they went into Cleveland. Any way you want to look at it, Cleveland's on the rise. Cincinnati's on the rise. Columbus is on the rise. Dayton's on the rise. We have foreign investment that is significant in the state. No, I don't think it's been uneven at all. I mean, I think Cleveland was digging out of a very big hole, and now --
Look, we just had two very controversial court decisions -- no violence. I think a big part of it is because the people who live there said, we've made so much progress that we're not going to go backwards and -- you know, and have violence in our city. There is nobody up there that doesn't realize that we are -- we're doing so much better. Now, we still have a long ways to go. I mean, we're not -- I'm not putting any s- -- mission accomplished sign up, but when you see the trends, they're pretty remarkable.
The other thing that's happening in Cleveland is we're beginning to see a demographic change. We're beginning to see more and more skilled workers move into Cuyahoga County, and it's lost pop- -- some population, but the people who have come in, they're higher educated. Their salaries are better. See, our wages in the state are growing faster than the national average as well. So -- look, it doesn't mean that these inner cities aren't tough. I mean, they're tough. Look, I was in your inner city last night. It ain't a box of chocolates either, but we have to work at them.
What's happening with Cleveland is there's a lot of people that are moving downtown now. That's that urban rush. Look, the other thing that has been important about Cleveland has been the minority community, and so they're now a lot more hopeful than they were. Look, I'm -- I can't tell you it's over because it's not over, but I am really happy with what's -- what has been happening in that state and in that town.
DN: We'll talk about Cleveland a little later in a different question, but we wanted to also just ask a few questions about religious liberty. You had a very interesting response in the last debate.
JK: Yeah, I've had a couple.
DN: Yeah, you have.
DN: And -- but how -- you know, how people can get along, and, as you may be aware, in Utah, we've worked hard at trying to come to some compromise on some of these issues in terms of balancing religious liberties with LGBT rights, and [?we'd?] just be interested in [CROSSTALK]
JK: Yeah, I don't know the details of it, but kind of the way that I've felt about this -- in the first debate I said, you know, if you're a cupcake maker and somebody comes in who's gay and wants to buy a cupcake, sell them a cupcake, you know, and if you don't a- -- and if you don't approve of whatever the lifestyle is, say a prayer for them. I mean, the next thing I s- -- I think I said in that debate, the minute we won't sell a cupcake to a gay guy, what, do we not sell a cupcake to a divorced guy? So -- And then people kind of misinterpreted that, OK, and so in the second debate, I said, look, say you're a photographer, and they want you to be an active participant in a gay wedding. OK, so the photographer doesn't want to do it. Find another photographer, you know, and all this thing about lawsuits and everything, I don't want to start passing laws when I think we can figure this thing out as normal human beings. So if it gets to the point where we're having lots of trouble, then we'll pass a law because I think people should never be forced to do something that is, you know, really deeply against their religious principles. Now, when it comes to my church, we're not going to -- we're not -- you are not to invade the sphere of the church, but we're talking about commerce. We're talking about a different situation. I have been pleased that since the Supreme Court decision, we haven't seen a lot of this. Yeah, we read about this case out in the state of Washington where they actually passed a law out there. So if you're out in Washington, and you don't want to abide by the law, either change the law or move, right. But I think across the country we've not seen a lot of trouble, and I hope it'll just continue to be that way. I don't believe in making a law when you don't need one, when common sense and respect for somebody else's point of view can prevail. How's that?
DN: So you wouldn't give -- you wouldn't allow a cause of action for LGBT individuals who felt slighted in the marketplace that way?
JK: Well, I mean -- I don't -- I -- what -- you mean do I think they should sue? No, I would just think we ought to try to get along, that's all. I mean, I'm not saying you can't sue. If you want to sue, sue. If we have all these lawsuits and things get really wacky, we'll pass a law. Why don't we just all respect each other a little bit more, huh? I mean, I -- what's wrong with that thought?
DN: We like that thought, Governor.
JK: That's what I like.
DN: What -- just to understand just a bit about the c- -- so, clearly, the sanctuary of a church is
JK: Oh, it's inviolate. Inviolate.
DN: Are there outer bounds? I mean, so where -- you know, a church -- a college with a church or a religious-oriented mission --
JK: I'd have to think about each of them. I haven't -- look, you know, these are questions that -- they're basically ethical questions, and I'm only a quarter of the way through Saint Augustine's confession. Let me finish it and then I'll tell you. OK?
DN: Which version are you reading?
JK: The original.
DN: Do you know which translation?
JK: Look, I just -- I don't, but I have to tell you, look --
DN: I ask because I'm looking for a good translation. I'm serious.
JK: Well, I have it in my car. I'll show it to you, OK? Well, look, I mean, my faith is -- I don't -- look, I did this radio show, and this guy says, If you'd just talk about God more, you'd get more votes, and I said, I'm not going to cheapen -- first of all, you can't cheapen God, but I'm not going to cheapen myself because actually I want to have a nice room and a nice view of the golf course.
DN: In the afterlife, is that what we're to assume?
JK: What do you think I was talking about? OK? I'm really kind of uncomfortable with this because I don't want anybody to vote for me because of my faith, to tell you the truth. You know, I was -- I felt very connected to my faith as a very young man, and then, like most kids and maybe -- I don't know about Mormons, but most kids, I drifted away. And my parents were killed in 1987 by a drunk driver, and a gentleman came to me, a preacher -- a young preacher man who's a friend of mine to this day, and he said, You know, John, this pain that you're in is going to pass. You will be healed, but you have an opportunity to go through the window of opportunity to figure out where you are on this. So that was 29 years ago, and it's been one of the great journeys -- the greatest journey of my life. You know, I put that there and I put my wife and my children next. And, you see, the way I look at it is I don't -- I've never met anybody -- I've met a lot of people that are better than me, but I've never met anybody who's perfect, and I believe that the do's of religion are far more important than the don'ts, and when you get into the do's you then begin to drift into the don'ts. So if we spend our time trying to sell religion as don't do this, I don't think it works, OK, and I don't think religion is about fear. I think it's about grace, and so my view on it is that, you know, it's an important part of my life, but I also have to --
See, this whole debate about, you know, I don't like you, and you don't like me, well, what about you? How you doing? You know, before I start looking at somebody else -- and I just read a very interesting translation -- or a real interesting part of the Augustine book that I actually had my friend here help me with because Augustine was writing about the opinions he had of the early church fathers and how he didn't like the way they conducted themselves, and -- but it goes on to say that the laws of God are all s- -- always stable, but there are moments in time where people carry on a certain way that reflects the culture of the time but does not take away from the permanence and the enduring law of God. It's very interesting to me, and I don't know what I think about that yet. I mean, [?how do?] you believe in an editorial board? I'm talking about this, but I take -- it -- well -- but, you know, what it brings up is the question of how much -- how do we think about culture in different periods of time, but yet how does that square with the enduring and everlasting laws of God? And so I have been in this Bible study -- I helped create it back when my -- after my parents were killed, and I haven't been at it for a while because I've been a little busy, but I can't wait to go to it because I'm going to stir everything up, you know. But these things are important. So when we look at, you know, all these issues you're asking me, I have to really reflect on them. I don't -- I'm not a snap -- sometimes I'm a snap decision-maker, but most of the time I'm not because I think it's important to get other people's points of view, and very rarely do I ever just snap a decision -- would you say that's fairly accurate, Chris [SP]? I mean, I do re- -- I do like to listen to other people, and I like to listen to people who are smarter than I am.
DN: The Supreme Court. Do you support the position of the GOP on the [Merrick] Garland nomination, and could you describe --
JK: I think they ought to meet with him. Show a little respect and meet with the guy, OK? You know, I didn't want the president to send a nomination up because -- frankly, let's think about it. He passes Obamacare. He passes -- he does these executive orders, you know, drives the Dem- -- the Republicans insane. Then the Republicans have a guy that sits on the floor of the House, and when the President of the United States is speaking, he yells out, You lie! What is going on in this country? You know, so both sides hold responsibility for the division, and the leaders have not been able to be able to bring about respect. I was there. Look, I ran a budget committee. There's not a more polarizing, ideologically dividing committee than the budget committee, and if you call the people on the budget committee who were Democrats, they would praise me because you've got to show respect. Give them a couple things, you know. I mean, you know, this is -- So -- but the president hasn't done it and the Congress hasn't done it, and I said, what are we even messing with this for? Let's give the people a twofer. You elect a president. If it's Hillary, she's going to pick who she wants and the country can't squawk, and if it's me, then I get to pick who I want and the country can't squawk. So that's kind of the way I look at it, and let's just then move on. But, you know, meet the guy. Hey, you know, have him to your -- have a cup of coffee. What the heck. Or whatever, you know.
DN: Nice save.
JK: Was that a nice save? I've been trying to figure that out. Are we ag- -- are you against caffeine or for it? Which is the position? People tell me coffee is very popular in this state. Is that right?
DN: Caffeine is very popular.
JK: OK, yeah. Yeah, I got you. Does that answer it? So, Candice, I -- look, when you have a president that has not understood how to bring people together and when you have a Congress that has been so fractured even internally that they don't know how to show respect to a president, we have to get this healed because you can't solve the problems in this country with just one party.
DN: Well, what kind of characteristics would you want in an [CROSSTALK]
JK: Conservative. Somebody that will not make law. I've appointed over 100 judges in Ohio, and even a Supreme Court justice, a great lady who -- you know, I have a group that met -- meet with them. They have checked their records and all that kind of stuff. We don't care about peccadilloes from 30 years ago. I mean, we need to get over that, and we've had -- we pick good people, and they've -- You know, we have elections of judges in Ohio. Most of them, I think, have been reelected, and the only thing I try to -- that I've recently been telling them is, please -- I don't interview them. They come -- I get the recommendation and then I decide, but I've seen a couple that I've appointed, and I -- the one thing I tell them is, don't be making political decisions with somebody's life. In other words, you know, you're a judge. You got to make a decision about a life, and so what goes through your mind is, well, if I don't sentence them to a prison and I put them in a community setting or whatever I do, are they going to call me soft on crime, so, therefore, I just ought to lock this person up? That troubles me because we're dealing with human beings. So that's how I would do it as -- for the Supreme Court. I'd get smart people around. They'd go interview these people, make a recommendation to me. I'd meet with that person, and we'd go from there. I think I met with our Supreme Court justice. I can't remember, but it's all worked out pretty well. No problems that I can see, so I've actually done this.
DN: My question is on fiscal matters. So it wasn't more than a couple of years ago when we were on fiscal [?cliffs?] and we were sequestering and we were doing all this stuff. The economy gets better, and people seem to -- that no longer is on the front burner, yet we still face long-term problems with entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, but the president submits a budget and nobody even looks at it, and we have this toxic atmosphere in Washington concerning solutions to these problems. So (a) what are your solutions to those long-term problems, and (b) how do you get as president people to listen and actually work these things out?
JK: Well, you know, I've done this. Did you know I was chairman of the budget committee in Washington?
DN: No, I -- yes, I am aware of that.
JK: Yeah, it took me 10 years to get the budget balanced. I worked with Domenici, and then we negotiated with the Clinton administration. We got it done, and it's -- a lot of it is will and a lot of it is knowledge in terms of how you -- look, I made so many people angry in Washington --
DN: Don't you think things have changed in 20 years?
JK: No, I don't. I think people are people. What has changed is the leadership hasn't told people to knock it off. The leadership has not told people to show respect. The leadership has not been willing to take actions to make it clear we're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior.
DN: Leadership in Congress? Your party?
JK: Of course, and -- you know, and the administration has been no better. So, I mean, it's -- people are people. When you let them do crazy things, they'll do crazy things down there, but if you get them to understand they're Americans. Respect these people that you work with. You know, I think you can bring about a significant change, and the fact is that we're going to -- if I win, OK, which I think I will, you're going to have a House and a Senate that's going to be Republican, but I would not just stop there. I'd pull Democrats in, and we -- if we really want economic growth, we have to have exactly what I said -- common sense regs, lower taxes and a balanced budget. I think the personal taxes will be the hardest thing, to be honest with you. Corporate taxes coming down? Piece of cake. Nobody -- everybody loves that. Nobody has to give anything up to get that done. A path to a balanced budget? Absolutely, and I would also -- you know, I came here early on the balanced-budget amendment, which I've been sort of the main supporter of since I was a kid, and we passed it here, thank goodness. Lot -- some [?conservative spaces?] won't even pass it, but we need that balanced-budget amendment.
But forget the balanced-budget amendment. A reasonable plan to get us there, and it won't happen overnight, but you've got to change things, innovate things. You know, I'm for shifting welfare, education, infrastructure the job training and Medicaid back to the states. I mean, that's a good program and a good plan. So what I'm proposing is reasonable stuff, you know, not some wild kind of crazy promises that'll never happen.
DN: But what about the future of Social Security and Medicaid?
JK: You have to fix Social Security. The way you fix that is basically you're going to have to say that some people are going to get less based on their income over time, and those that depend on it are going to get what they want, and then you're going to have to go from wages and prices to just prices and you're fine. Viola. It's done. In terms of Medicare, we took the Medicaid growth in my state from 10.5 percent to 2 in my second year without cutting one benefit or taking anybody off the rolls. So what we did was we turned on a computer, forced the insurance companies to compete against one another, broke the back of the nursing home lobby so parents could stay in their own home, rather than being shipped into a nursing home, and, you know, we continue to do really, really well with that, but it's innovation. And some of the things in that are connected to Medicare. I'll give you a good example. You buy a Medicare supplemental policy; you get first-dollar coverage. That doesn't be that. The default option should be people going into coordinated care, not into fee-for-service. I mean, there's many things you can do that can slow the growth of that, that are not harmful to people, that are things that are extremely reasonable. And you have to deal with entitlements. I mean, I don't worry -- do you think I worry about that? I mean, man, they say there's a third -- you got to understand -- do y- -- because you wouldn't understand this. What do you think I'm doing this for? I don't need any public housing. I already have it, OK? I never -- I didn't even want to go back into politics, and the only reason I'm doing this is because -- look, this is -- you give your whole life to this stuff, and I'm doing it because I got -- I know how to do this. So if I didn't do it and I stayed at home, and I sat on the couch and played golf and handled the state of Ohio, which, you know, we're doing well, I wouldn't be doing my job. So I don't -- I mean, I don't care about all this political mumbo-jumbo out there.
DN: Yeah, but you make it sound so easy, but that political mumbo-jumbo, when you had [CROSSTALK]
JK: It's hard. No, it's hard. I will be warn- -- I'll be warn- -- I'll be a puddle on the floor. I know that. You know, I have to now stand in the breach with my own legislature because some of them want to spend -- we went from 20 percent of operating budget in the hole to a surplus now. It's, like, hey, man, let's party! You know, and I'm, like, no. We're not doing that, and that's been the problem. You know, when I left Washington, there was a projected $5 trillion surplus -- 10-year surplus. The Republicans spent it all. But, see, the reason why I got so many people aggravated is because I said, you know, no. No. The way we got the budget balanced, to be honest with you, is that I had a backup plan to write every single committee's program. Oh, yeah, I had the ways and means to tax stuff. I had the appropriations stuff. Do you know how bitter they were? And I said, look, you don't have to do it the way I want to do it, but if you don't do it, I'm going to do it, see, because what they would tell you is, oh, yeah, give me a big number. I'm the appropriations committee and just give me the number, and I'll take care of it. And then when the time comes to take care of it, they don't take care of it. So I started writing every single line of the federal budget, my committee, and it drove people nuts -- nuts! So what?
DN: So --
JK: That's why they love me now. That's why they're all come -- falling in behind me. No, I mean, look, you cannot screw around in that town, and you can't fool around in anything in politics. You have to be willing to stick it on the line, and if you don't, get out.
DN: OK, do -- you'd be on the executive side now. Who, you know, in your tenure has been an ideal OMB director?
JK: Oh, I -- my budget director would probably be my OMB director.
DN: Well, and in the course of who you've worked with, who stands out as, like, top-notch OMB director?
JK: Well, I don't really have a lineup of trading cards of OM- -- former OMB directors. I don't know. I mean, I -- I'd have -- Jim Miller.
JK: Do you remember him?
JK: I liked Jim. He was a good guy. I battled with Darman. Darman respected me. Stockman, you know, I don't know what to say about Stockman. He was the first one that got the woodshed con- -- you know, he was the first one that Regan had to take to the woodshed. I can't --
DN: That's good. That's good.
JK: Oh, look, I like Rob Portman. He's from my state, and he was budget director -- I think he was budget director, wasn't he? And, you know, he's a smart good guy, a tough guy, all that kind of stuff. Look, you -- when you -- the -- you go- -- you have to pick a good cabinet and good undersecretaries because if you don't, you're dead, and they've got to understand who you are.
And I believe that everybody in the federal government should be moving towards job creation. I don't care who you are. If you're the EPA, if you're the Interior Department -- I don't care what it is. What do we do to create a good environment so people can get work?
DN: Governor, yesterday when we chatted, I mentioned that I really like your comments after New Hampshire, and you said that you won't take the low road to the highest office in the land. I mean, some of the lower moments of this entire campaign have so sadly been around immigration. I think things that have if not been disheartening and even disgusting, almost outright un-American, have happened in that conversation. What would you do regarding immigration?
JK: Well, I mean, the R- -- I voted for the Reagan plan in 1986. The problem was they -- we never got the border done, and I don't know -- you know, I'm not so sure that it wasn't the special interests on the border that kept the fence from going up.
DN: Who did they -- what are the special interests on the border?
JK: Who would profit from being able to have people come in? Think about it, OK. Only reason why I say it is Duncan Hunter, my friend from San Diego, who built the fence out there -- I don't really want to tell you about the conversation he had with me, and I'm trying to be -- I'm not trying to be mysterious. You just -- you figure it out, OK. I don't want to repeat a conversation -- could it -- it even involves a president, but we never got that border done, so we should fin- -- we should lock our doors. And then, you know, a guest-worker program I favor, and then for the 11.5 million that are here, if they haven't committed a crime since they've been here, g- -- you know, they get a path to legalization, not to citizenship, and we move on. They pay a fine, back taxes. I don't know. We'd work all that out. This whole visa program needs to be reviewed. We can't have people just coming in and overstaying and we don't even know who they are. That's not good, but, you know, we'll just protect the country. But I'm pro-immigration. I'm not anti-immigration. I wouldn't be here.
DN: What does it say about our country, Governor, when it appears that it's resonating? Some of this bloviation is [CROSSTALK]
JK: I think it just -- it's just -- you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease or those who yell the loudest. The one thing you learn in politics, when you're in it long enough, is just don't listen to those who shout the loudest because they don't usually represent the massive numbers. I think what I've just said is something the coun- -- I've done -- how many town halls have we done?
Kasich Staffer: You did 106 in New Hampshire.
JK: I'll bet we're over 200 now, maybe, or somewhere close to it. Have you ever been at -- have you ever seen one of my town halls? You've seen it, Doug. I don't hide. I get up. I speak for a while, and I say, OK, let's take questions, and I answer the questions on immigration. I have never had anybody, like, yell at me about it.
JK: So there's a handful -- and, look, people are frustrated and all that, and they get worked up, and sometimes they yell, you know, but they don't ye- -- they're not yelling at my stuff. If they did, it wouldn't bother me. I'd listen to them, and I'd say, OK, what do you want me to tell y- -- here's what I'd say to them. You want me to tell you what you want to hear, or do you want to tell m- -- you want me to tell you what's going to happen? Which do you want?
DN: We've seen -- we came so close when -- Senator Kennedy, Senator Hatch, Senator [CROSSTALK] --
DN: George W. Bush --
DN: -- what, six years ago or --
DN: -- something like that. We came so close, but, again, the extremes on both sides did not allow it to happen. How would you corral it? You talk about this leadership, and, you know, there's a term in Hollywood, it -- Hollywood. Freudian slip there. There's a term in Washington about the whip. You know, somebody's supposed to be in there and just kind of [CROSSTALK]
JK: Yeah, that's right. I think the other thing is that -- you know, I think that the 2000 election was so -- you know, the result was so tough that Bush probably never had a really -- a good start with the Congress. After 9/11 I'll bet he could've passed it, but we didn't act then. You know, what Rahm Emanuel said -- you know, never waste a good crisis. I happen to agree with him.
Look, I can just tell you. I went through government shutdowns, but we worked it out, and that's where a president has to call somebody down. You got to call the people to the White House. You sit out on the balcony. You -- you know, you have a drink. You -- it's just the way it works. You take them -- I mean, nobody knows how to do that anymore. You know, I've decided that if I win, I'm going to come out of retirement. See, I was a former MVP of the Congressional basketball game many years ago, and the I dribbled the ball off my knee, and I retired after I intercepted it, took it the length of the court, and it fell off of my knee and rolled out of bounds. I'm going to st- -- I will go up to Capitol Hill and play basketball with the guys. You just have to do that, and y- -- it's -- you know, it's hard because the country has been -- it's just been driven to such extremes, such hatred between the parties. It's like we're a parliamentary system. It's ridiculous.
DN: I want to probe a little bit on your approaches to foreign policy, and [INAUDIBLE] start with Syria -- you've said it. You support the idea of a few more boots on the ground [CROSSTALK]
JK: No, I'm for total boots on the ground and in the air with the coalition, not a few more.
DN: [CROSSTALK] more about that and how it fits into your overall philosophy of both the national security and anti-terrorism.
JK: Well, you have to beat ISIS, and you beat ISIS like we beat Saddam in 19- -- you know, whenever the first Gulf war was, and you get a coalition of the Muslim Arabs that, you know, the countries over there -- you notice I say Muslim Arabs. You get a coalition -- Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, Gulf states -- and you get with them. You get with the Europeans and you get the Japanese perhaps. I mean, I don't know. You get with whoever -- I don't know if the Japanese would do anything, but, I mean, they could do some logistical things. I don't -- the world -- the normal world, you know, the civilized world can all participate in one way or another to support an effort to destroy ISIS. Now, if you take -- the first Gulf war was a great win, and I remember when we -- when the military was driving towards Baghdad and they stopped, and people said, well, Bush didn't finish the job. Well, he most certainly did because, you know, going into Baghdad, you're in the middle of a civil war then. I mean, the Sunni, the Shi and the Kurds, really, it's a western -- you know, a western assimilation after WWI where nothing fit together.
Let's take Syria, OK. I would not involve myself in a civil war to topple Assad. I would support the rebels for sure, but I would not directly involve the U.S. I don't believe in us getting in the middle of civil wars. Look what happened when we got -- we started messing around in Libya and we dumped Gaddafi out. OK, we dumped Gaddafi out and look what we have now. Now, we've got to go bomb because ISIS has spread to, you know, six or seven cities in Libya. I was against U.S. involvement in Lebanon where we -- our Marines were blown up and we left. I voted against Regan on that. I mean, I was, like, 30 years old. I've never believed in civil wars, that we should be in the middle of them. We can help people, but not directly intervene.
I'm very troubled by Afghanistan. I think that -- I don't want to say too much about it because, see, I actually think I'm going to be president. As much as you may think, what is he talking about, I think I will, but I can tell you I'm very troubled by the continuing Afghan involvement. In my mind, I have an idea about what I would do, but I'm not going to say it right now because any time you talk about deadlines or timelines, you're making a mistake. I will just tell you that I don't like what we're doing there. Let's see, what else? I would destroy ISIS and then I'd come home and let them draw the lines. And what do I think -- what do I hope will happen? Well, look, you already see what's happening in Syria. The Kurds are about to declare some sort of a republic. I don't think -- I don't know what they what they call it, a commonwealth or whatever. Syria looks like it's going to be divided up in some sort of a federated way. That's fine with me.
Turkey. You know, that's a big problem because the Turks hate the Kurds, and we know that we need Turkey, and people keep warning me about Arduan [SP], but, you know, I mean, the guy's there. I mean, we got to find out what he wants and who he is.
China. You know, they don't own the South China Sea, and they need to stop hacking us or we'll take their systems out. And with Russia, don't invade anywhere else. We're done with you, and I would arm the Ukrainians.
DN: Hmm, interesting. When you talk about building -- you know, bringing the world together and being partners, how has that shifted over the last couple of decades, and how would you get Saudis at the same table with some of those other partners that you [CROSSTALK]
JK: Because they're -- it's an existential threat against all of them right now. Their days are numbered if we -- if ISIS continues to grow, it's just a matter of time till they have enormous disruptions in their own country. The -- I think the biggest problem has been that, you know, they don't know who we are or what we're willing to do, and they're nervous. They're nervous people. They're just like politicians in America. They're always nervous, so if they don't -- if they think that they may take a position and we're going to undercut them -- you know, the red line in Syria was a devastating -- had a devastating effect on those countries. They're, like, what is America doing, you know? So -- look, none of these things are easy, but they're all achievable because you need to make lemonade out of lemons.
DN: Do you support resettling more refugees from this area [CROSSTALK]
JK: Not for -- not -- well, we don't know who they are. I -- we don't know who they are. We can't vet them. We can't bring ISIS into the United States, so I would pause.
DN: So you don't think that the system that we have right now of vetting refugees works?
JK: No. No, I don't. Not f- -- no, not from that place. And, secondly, I was for the no-fly zone and sanctuaries. I would've done a no-fly zone, and then the Kurds would protect the sanctuaries, and then you wouldn't have the big migrant crisis, but the president didn't want to do that.
DN: In light of all that, how do we manipulate in or dance around Vladimir Putin and now Russian interests when we're trying to do that and bring people together? Would they be part of that?
JK: Well, I don't think we -- yeah, if Russia wanted to fight ISIS, we'd accept them. They said they went over there to fight ISIS, and all they did was bomb the rebels, and maybe some they bombed -- might have bombed ISIS to a degree, but they were fundamentally there to prop up Assad. They might -- see, you know, they've got a big problem with radical Islam too, and it's a place called -- particularly called Chechnya, and their tactics in Chechnya are beyond brutal, but they realize that radical Islam poses a threat to them as well.
And, you know, I've been reading a lot, I mean, as hard as it is in between Augustine. I'm reading -- read a really fascinating article about the strong men in Chechnya. See, I've been interested in Chechnya for a long time because I actually wrote -- read a book written by Ana Pliskova [SP], who is a lady who was assassinated in Russia, OK. Now -- and, you know, what -- I read a lot about Chechnya and the brutality. You know, on the other hand, there -- I'm becoming a little bit more convinced that the Chechnyans were the ones that actually went in, blew -- maybe blew up these apartment buildings. They were in the opera house, right. We know that. I mean, so is Russia -- do they ignore this threat of Islamic extremism? I don't think so, but with Putin, he needs to understand you're not going into these -- the NATO countries not -- forget about it because he'll start a war with us if I'm president. Be clear with him. You know, he's a KGB operative. I mean, there's only one thing they understand -- clear language and strength. That's my view. Now, you know, I also have people around who are foreign policy experts. My top advisor is a young 80-year-old man by the name of Richard Allen, who was the National Security Advisor to President Regan, and we built a pretty good team. And I check with them. You know, I check with them. They don't teach me, but they do advise me, and they're very valuable to me -- very valuable.
DN: Who else is on the foreign policy team?
JK: I think we got about 50. I don't even know all of them. My guy's coming in today. His name is -- he was a guy with State Department. He lived overseas, and he is really an acolyte of Dick Allen, but I have Buzzy Krongard, who used to be chief operating officer of the CIA. I've got a guy named Bill Schneider, who is one of the deepest, you know, guys in foreign policy. I think I've got about -- I don't know. They keep coming. They keep coming. You know, Bud McFarland just contacted me. He wants to be involved. I can get you the list, but that's a -- it is a -- it's a deep list.
You know, for example, I have people that advise me on cyber, -- and they're not -- one of them is in the CIA In-Q-Tel, you know. He's a -- he is a -- an expert on security, all ki- -- of not just cybersecurity, but the ability to provide the security and safety to companies too, you know, -- not just foreign attacks.
DN: Could we just jump quickly? There are two areas we want to get to on some federalism issues. And then we have a few horse race questions.
DN: On federalism, we see Europe where a lack of a strong federal structure is devastating to their future. In the United States, you've got the executive, legislative and judicial tinkering with the powers between the state and the federal. What do you see is the best balance, and what do you think it would take for us to get to a better balance, to that optimum balance?
JK; Well, I mean, l- -- you know, I'm in the Levitt [SP] school, OK. I want shi- -- I want to ship a bunch of stuff back. I mean, I think, you know, you got welfare, education, infrastructure, Medicaid, job training. Those are a given. Are there more things that can be done? Probably. I'd like to shrink the operation of the federal government. Then when you think about the VA, it needs totally restructured. IRS needs -- you know, that place had got to be shaken.
So I believe that the more we transfer to the states, the better. Hold them accountable, but the most important conversation I had with Levitt [SP] was -- well, Mike, we send these programs to the states, and the state bungles it. What do you say? He said, Well, how's it easier? To get change going to Washington or get change at the state house? He's absolutely right. So I think that -- you know, hold people accountable, but let them innovate, and I think that's what the founders had in mind, and that's my philosophy. The more power we can ship out, I kind of -- I think the better. And -- but there's some things you can't. I mean, you can't ship out national defense, protecting the border. These are not things that you're going to ship out of there, and there can probably be other partnerships. Those are the things -- I mean, we know with Medicaid and with welfare and with education, we don't need the federal government -- and with job training and with infrastructure because we send money -- I don't know where you folks are, but, you know, I'm a believer that the federal taxes ought to be kept in the states, except for a couple pennies to run the interstate. Let the states keep their resources.
DN: What bout the management of public lands?
JK: You know, I don't have a really good answer at this point. What do I think? I think it's a balance question. I think probably the federal government has had too much control. So I have been warned by very smart people to just -- don't say too much. Well, I want to get the right position, -- Well, I -- I mean, I would absolutely believe we need to move more power to the states. I think the balance is out of control because there's so many requirements imposed on you be- -- and yet you don't have much say in -- so I would be -- but I would have to get the smartest minds to figure out --
Do you remember -- who was that guy -- James Watts Remember him, James Watt --
JK: -- and all that? So this is something we have to think about. I'm open. I mean, I'm -- my mind is -- I -- my instincts tell me too much power in Washington, not enough say back here.
DN: Right now, we're all holding our breath on maybe another 1.2, 1.5 million acres, bigger than some of our states [CROSSTALK] --
JK: Yeah, I saw that.
DN: -- set aside with no input from Utah.
JK: Yeah, I don't think that's right. I don't think that's right at all, but I will have a good -- look, why would I want to be saying that you guys should have no say in the federal government? What, are you kidding me? OK, but, on the other hand, we want to make sure that we don't make decisions that don't make a lot of sense, that destroy some things that we really want to protect, so I think it's a balance matter. That's my sense.
DN: Governor, you're here in Utah asking Utaans to vote for you in Tuesday's caucus, and yet you have no mathematical way to win those 1,237 delegates before the convention.
JK: I don't think anybody will -- not -- because I don't think anybody will win them.
DN: You don't think Trump can do it?
DN: You don't think Cruz can do it?
JK: No, Cruz has got to win, like, 80 percent of the delegates. He's not going to do that. No, I don't think so, and I believe that we will go to a convention. We've had 10 of them in the Republican Party. It's interesting that of the 10, only three of them have gone to the person going to the convention with the largest number of delegates. A convention is nothing more than an extension of this political process, and somehow -- I don't know where people got this idea that, you know, a convention should just ratify -- I mean, I don't know where that -- do they not understand what a convention is? That's where delegates go, and they -- and there's two things they try to decide because I was at the convention in '76 when Regan took on Gerald Ford. The first thing they want to know is are you electable, and, by the way, the two people I'm running against cannot get elected in the general election, OK. I mean, they're -- they can't win Ohio. I can tell you that. And the second thing -- now, this one's radical. Now, I want you to at least [UNINTELLIGIBLE] -- to take your time and write this one down. They're actually -- they are actually going to think about who might be a good president. I mean, it actually could happen.
DN: You think that's going to happen in Utah? Is it -- is -- are we going to kind of pivot that discussion to let's look at who's going to be a good president and who's electable for the [CROSSTALK]
JK: I mean, I think that was -- I mean, what -- how else would you vote? You know, do you vote because you want to stop somebody? I mean, that's not my deal. If I were in this to stop somebody, I'd get out because it wouldn't be worth my time. I'm in it because I think that I have the skills, the record and the vision to be able to get elected. I mean, I think Trump has been a divider, and Cruz -- I don't know whether you've realized this, but for seven years I have heard Republicans say, how could we have ever elected a first-term senator that's never accomplished anything? We must -- I think we got amnesia.
DN: Will you support the nominee who [CROSSTALK]
JK: It depends. I would like to. Well, look, I've seen some things -- when I got a guy running for president who says, you know, we'll have a riot if I don't get picked or, you know, these things about women, which I've seen, I -- I'm very disturbed by it. I'm not willing to say any more beyond the fact that I'm disturbed by what I see, but we'll see. There's still time to go. Time for people to clean up their act. We'll see.
DN: What do you say though to the millions of voters out there who have supported that guy who's talked about -- talked about women, talked about just about everyone? They voted for him already.
DN: Not in Ohio, but across the country, --
DN: -- and if there's a brokered convention and he doesn't get the nomination, what do you say to all those people?
JK: Well, you know, my -- one of my daughters said to me, Daddy, I made an 86, and I got better than everybody else, so I should get an A. I said, well, what is the score for an A? Ninety. I said, well, isn't that interesting? I mean, we have rules. We have a convention. It has rules. You have to get a certain number of delegates. If you get it, you win. If you don't get it, you don't win. Then you go to a convention and you try to win. So for the people that voted for him, God bless them. I mean, a lot of them, you know, if they get to know me, they're going to -- they'll vote for me. A lot of Trump voters like me, you know. So -- and that's why you don't want to talk about riots because a leader does the best they can do, and if they win, they win, you know. When Carl Malone [SP] and John Stockton, they went and played in the finals. Hell, they never won a title, but they didn't say the fans ought to riot. They said, we'll live with the result.
JK: You know, what's interesting. You know, I just thought about it this morning. I was -- when I got done with doing my network interviews this morning, I was on a treadmill and I was running, and I was thinking, do you realize that in most sports the coaches are not allowed to complain? The players are not allowed to complain. If you complain, you get fined. Did you know that? Maybe we ought to have that rule in politics.
But, and, you know, look, I want to support the Republican nominee, but, you know, we'll -- we have to -- I'm disturbed.
DN: Governor, I don't know if around this table -- I might be the only guy that has actually attended a Donald Trump rally outside of --
DN: -- Utah.
DN: I was there last night. OK, but outside of Utah. And as a matter of fact, I looked at those people there, and they were the kind of folks that would live down the street and probably give you the shirt off their back. They don't understand what the hell's happened to them. They don't understand why they're not making the money they used to. They don't understand -- why their jobs are dis- -- they don't understand why their kids aren't having the opportunities. They're seeing a bleaker future, and, honestly, when I walked out of the Trump rally in Council Bluffs, and I remember I was disheartened by what I heard, but I looked at those people, and I thought, holy cow, what do we do for these folks? And does Donald Trump even care about these folks, crossed my mind, to tell you the truth, but they were disheartened. They were down, and I thought, this isn't what our country's about, and what do we do for those folks? And do you believe that Donald Trump -- that's his base. That's who he's got. That's who would . . .
JK: No, where did you see me?
DN: Oh, it was in -- it was in New Hampshire. It was just in New Hampshire. We made the rounds [CROSSTALK] --
JK: OK, you haven't seen me in Utah at a town hall.
DN: No, I haven't seen you in Utah.
DN: Although I did hear the comments last night on the -- yesterday afternoon on the radio.
JK: Well, my rallies -- my town halls give people hope. They don't leave them depressed, but I speak to their problems. This is why the Trump voters -- I can get along with Trump voters. You said it exactly right. What you said is exactly what's in the mind of the American public today. And what can we do for them? We can fix this economy and get them jobs. When I was chairman of the budget committee, when we balanced the budget, there wasn't any discussion about wages or -- we were just booming. And in my state, people are upbeat in my state. Do you see what my approval rating is? OK. I mean, this is because people feel hopeful. I haven't solved all -- Hey, look, first of all, it's not just me. It's the people around me. They're smarter than I am, and I'm so glad they're there, but [UNINTELLIGIBLE] people are more hopeful. So I think the answer is to acknowledge absolute -- that's why I wouldn't go negative on him because he's touched into something that's real, but the question is how do we solve it? And you can't just solve it by saying things are just going to be great because you've all pointed out the difficulty of getting that place to work down there, and I know that if I should go down there, and if I do this, I will be a puddle on the floor because it'll take everything we all have to end the bickering and the name-calling and the partisanship, but I don't believe we're done. I thi- --
And I'll tell you. I run into a lot of people who were down there, who say, God, you know, I just -- it's just not any fun anymore, and I think people want to do things.
DN: Governor, why hasn't that message re- -- [AUDIO CUTS OUT]
JK: Charles Krauthammer accused me of whining, OK. Let me just tell you the facts. Donald Trump has received $1.8 billion worth of earned media. Where was I? Tenth? Tenth. Nobody knows who I am, Lisa. Now they're starting to know. They must know. They wouldn't have been -- you know, all those people all over Utah coming to my town halls, they must know something, but I've had more press in the last three weeks than I've had in the last six months. People don't know me. They don't know who I am. And here's the thing. So they go to a store, and there's Coke and then there's Pepsi and then there's Kasich. And somebody goes, oh. Oh, OK. Kasich. Yeah, I kind of like that brand, but I don't -- I just don't know enough about it. I'll just go with Coke. And then the media accuses me of whining. I'm not whining. I'm not whining at all. I'm just stating a fact, and the reason why I got no attention is because I didn't smear people, and I've had national commentators tell me that I should start smearing people to get attention. I'm not going to do it.