Kasich revises history on Iraq war

Updated 12:22 PM EDT, Sun August 16, 2015
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Story highlights

Kasich says he would never have committed U.S. to Iraq in 2002

But at the time, he told Ohio students, "We should go to war with Iraq"

(CNN) —  

John Kasich says now that he never would have taken the United States to war in Iraq – but the Ohio governor supported then-President George W. Bush’s push for war in 2002.

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” aired Sunday, Kasich said, “I would never have committed ourselves to Iraq.”

But in November 2002, Kasich, then a former congressman, made a very different argument during an event at The Ohio State University, as the United States was gearing up for war in Iraq.

“We should go to war with Iraq. It’s not likely that (Saddam) Hussein will give up his weapons. If he did he would be disgraced in the Arab world,” he said then.

Kasich’s 2002 comments, in front of a crowd of 100 students at the Kuhn Honors and Scholars House, were reported at the time by The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, under the headline: “Fireside speaker favors war with Iraq.”

A Kasich spokesman said after the interview that the Ohio governor hadn’t been suggesting he’d opposed the war in 2002 – but that the war was a mistake given the facts available now.

“Kasich was not revising history, he was saying what he’s always said: Knowing what we know now, he would not have gone into Iraq,” Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said in an email.

Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch in May, “…if the question is, if there were not weapons of mass destruction should we have gone, the answer would’ve been no.”

Because Kasich had already departed Congress, he didn’t cast a vote on the war in Iraq.

Gov. John Kasich on State of the Union: Full interview

On Sunday, Kasich said the United States “should’ve left a base in Iraq” instead of withdrawing troops in 2011.

He painted a grim picture of Iraq’s future, as well.

“I mean ultimately (Iraq is) probably going to end up being divided into three parts,” he said. “I think ISIS has risen, frankly, because there’s been nobody over there to stop them.”

CNN’s Teddy Davis contributed to this report