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Gov. Kasich Still Campaigning For First GOP Primary Win


The remaining Republican candidates on this Super Tuesday include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who's on the line with us. Governor, welcome back to the program.

JOHN KASICH: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Got to begin with a bottom-line question. You've fought it out, you're respected in your party, you've been reelected as governor of Ohio, but you haven't won a primary yet, and you've said you don't expect to win any today. What has kept voters from supporting you?

KASICH: Well, look, I think - first of all, you know, up through New Hampshire I had very, very little national media coverage, so voters were not familiar with me. We did do very well in New Hampshire, finishing second, and that sparked some national attention. And we never felt that Super Tuesday was going to be some gold mine for us in any stretch. But once today is over, we head north. We head more to my home court, my home turf. And it's a situation where, you know, we go to Michigan and then, of course, we end up in my beloved Ohio for a winner-take-all. So we've always felt that, you know, we've got to get - we have a good campaign plan. We've been - we've planned our campaign and, now we're campaigning our plan. And we think that things will turn our way. And if I win Ohio winner-take-all, it's going to change everything in this race.

INSKEEP: Well - although it will not change some math, the fact that Donald Trump, if he does win today, will have quite a few convention delegates, which of course determines who the nominee is.

KASICH: Well, remember, Steve, at the end of today 35 percent of the delegates will be picked. That leaves 65 percent yet to be picked. So let's not get carried away with saying that the ball game is over. There's a lot of things that happen in the fourth quarter.

INSKEEP: He's a long way from a majority, but I wonder if your main hope at this point is that nobody gets a majority of delegates and that several of you slug it out at the convention.

KASICH: No, that's not - my hope is not a brokered convention. My hope is to begin to see a dramatically different race, and the ability to talk, you know, after the state of Ohio's primary is conducted. And let me tell you, Steve, that I've been thinking a lot about what it is that compels the Trump voter. I was in Chicopee, Mass. the other day, and a guy was in there and he's - I'm for Trump, you know? And I looked at him and I thought about it, and - good guy. You're not going to convince him by insulting Trump. The only way you're going to convince that voter is to show him that unless we get constructive solutions on the table, all we're going to do is flail around, and all the concerns and frustrations that that voter has will not be resolved.

INSKEEP: Are you fighting against the political moment, though, governor? Because it does seem that Trump has tapped into something.

KASICH: Well, he's absolutely tapped into this frustration that voters have. And some of them, no matter what you do, are going to go with Trump. But I'm absolutely convinced that if I - I've been in politics a long time. If I am able to sit down with those Trump voters - and by the way, there's a lot of Trump voters that like me. You know, if I were to sit down with those voters or to actually be in a dialogue in some way with those Trump voters, I could show them that there is a way forward to improve their wages and to make their jobs more secure and help their kids. In the meantime, it's difficult to have that conversation. And so what you see with Trump in many ways is nothing more than an expression of people who say the whole system doesn't work. I'm angry, I'm mad as hell - like the movie "Network" - and I'm not going to take it anymore. And so you have to be able to get them into a position where you can communicate that that is not the path to resolving their problems. You cannot fix it by just knocking all the pieces off the chessboard. But that's the mood.

INSKEEP: Gov. Kasich, thanks very much.

KASICH: Thank you. Bye.

INSKEEP: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the candidates on this Super Tuesday. And we should mention, we made invitations to other presidential candidates for this day and other days. We continue to bring them in as their schedules allow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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