John Kasich, Ruling out VP Run, Says 'I Don't Play for Second'

The Ohio Republican governor taks President Obama to task over ISIS strategy.

May 24, 2015, 3:07 PM

— -- Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich said he's "getting closer" to jumping into the 2016 race for the White House, but dismissed the idea of being a vice presidential candidate should he fail to secure the GOP nomination for president.

"Forget it, Jon. I don't play for second," Kasich told ABC News' Jonathan Karl Sunday on "This Week."

As he weighs whether to join an already-crowded Republican field for president, Kasich said he was "very optimistic" about his potential campaign, based on his recent visits to early primary states.

"I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. I've been very pleased with what I found out on the ground in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan. ... I have to tell you that I'm increasingly optimistic about all of this," Kasich said.

Kasich touted his "deep experience" as both a governor and former leader in Congress as assets in a potential run for the presidency, saying "I'm pretty qualified for this kind of a job."

"I'm the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland; at the same time being in Congress, balancing the budget," Kasich said.

"[W]e need somebody who has deep experience, executive experience who has made decisions where there is a bottom line who has a deep knowledge of foreign affairs, because it's pretty clear that America's position in the world is being questioned and it leaves us less secure at home," Kasich added.

Kasich was hesitant to directly criticize his fellow Republicans already running for the nation's highest office, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, when he had the opportunity. But he did take aim at the foreign policy of the sitting president over his strategy to defeat ISIS, calling it "feckless." In recent days the extremist Sunni group has gained control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.

"I said months ago that we ought to have a coalition of our Western partners and our -- any of our allies in the Middle East to form a coalition to knock ISIS out. And if that includes American boots on the ground, so be it," Kasich said. "But at the end of the day, you just can't let them continue to make all this progress.

"Look, three big problems," Kasich added. "One, we disbanded the Iraqi army and we have nothing but chaos since we started. Two, we failed to arm the opposition in Syria to push Assad out, which would have been strategic because of the support for Iran and Russia in regard to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Then we had a red line and we ignored that. And now we find out that over in Syria, they're dropping barrel chlorine bombs on people. So, you know, it's been a feckless foreign policy."

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