Ohio Gov. John Kasich Not Denying Interest in Presidential Bid

The Republican avoids his earlier "just not interested” comments.

ByABC News
December 7, 2014, 1:28 PM

-- Is Ohio Gov. John Kasich changing his tune on 2016? Speaking in March, the rising GOP star said he was “just not interested” in running for president.

But appearing today on “This Week” with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the Republican wouldn’t deny a presidential bid with the same clarity that he did this spring.

“Well, George, well, look, you know, you knew you were never going to get a good answer out of me here today,” Kasich said today on “This Week.”

After further prodding from Stephanopoulos, Kasich added, “Let me just say this, George, let me say this, you've risen to the top of ABC. I want to see whether you're going to run for president because I know how tough you'd be.”

Kasich, 62, easily won his re-election campaign for Ohio governor weeks ago, walking away with an impressive 31 point margin, and a potential platform to launch a presidential campaign.

With its 18 electoral votes, Ohio is one of the most sought-after states during presidential races. No Republican has won the White House without taking the Buckeye State since Abraham Lincoln.

“In our country today, there's too much division, too much polarization: black-white, rich-poor, Democrat-Republican. America does best when we're united,” said Kasich, who briefly ran for president in 1999.

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As other 2016 GOP presidential contenders like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Dr. Ben Carson of Maryland consider a potential 2016 run, Kasich is drawing interest for his moderate positions. In addition to expressing openness for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Kasich has supported the controversial education standards in Common Core and he has expanded Medicaid in his state.

“Now, on Medicaid expansion, I'm able to bring Ohio money back to Ohio, which, because I know what they do with it in Washington, and I can use it to treat the mentally ill. I can use it to help the drug-addicted. Why wouldn't I do that, George? That's common sense to me,” Kasich said.

With protests swelling over the fallout from recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, Kasich also addressed Justice Department findings this week of a pattern of excessive force by the Cleveland Police Department.

“What it gets down to is when there is a significant percentage of your country that believes that the system is not working for them, that can be working against them, they need to be listened to and they need to be responded to,” Kasich said.

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