Washington (CNN)Ohio Gov. John Kasich joked that he gets Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul "confused" with his libertarian father, former Rep. Ron Paul, and defended his conservative credentials against critiques of his move to expand Medicaid in his state.
Kasich jokes: I get Rand 'confused' with Ron
Asked by CNN's Gloria Borger about Paul's comments that governors who expanded Medicaid under Obamacare think that "money grows on trees," Kasich replied, "You mean Senator Ron Paul?"
When Borger insisted she meant the younger Paul, Kasich joked that they were hard to tell apart.
"Oh, I get them confused sometimes," he said, laughing. "Ron and Rand, and I served with Ron."
Pressed by Borger on how he would respond to Paul's critique, Kasich said he had little to say to the senator. He suggested maybe Kentucky's residents weren't dealing with poverty or hunger the way those in other states are.
"I'm not sure I would say much to him. I mean I don't know what he, you know maybe he doesn't work in Kentucky, maybe everybody's fine, maybe there aren't people who are suffering these problems," he said in the interview, which airs in full on Sunday's "State of the Union."
Paul, gearing up for his own presidential campaign, has sought to distance himself from his more libertarian father, who's known for his controversial remarks and stances on hot-button issues.
But Paul has been one of the loudest voices in his party opposed to states' expansion of Medicaid using subsidies from Obamacare. A number of other potential Republican presidential contenders, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, refused to expand the program.
Still, others — including Kasich, who's seen as a possible contender himself — agreed to take the federal funds to expand coverage.
He's forcefully defended the move, and recently said if the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies Ohio would have to "figure something out" to provide coverage to Ohioans. And in his interview with Borger, Kasich noted that his state's economy seems to be doing just fine.
"We are running surpluses of two billion, we are structurally balanced. Half the states, almost half the states are not," he said.
The Ohio governor said it's a "conservative position" to help the poor "get on their feet so they then can assume their rightful place in our society."
And he argued that "I've got as much a right as anybody in the Republican Party to define what conservatism means," noting his experience as chairman of the House Budget Committee when the U.S. Balanced its budget, and the fact Ohio's deficit has turned into a surplus on his watch.
"We've cut taxes more than anybody in the country, and they're wondering about my conservatism? Maybe I should wonder about theirs," he added.