Kasich: ‘I don’t read a Bible to figure out what I think’

Updated 11:53 AM EDT, Mon August 17, 2015
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Story highlights

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says faith plays a role in his approach to politics

But he doesn't turn to the Bible to "figure out what I think"

(CNN) —  

Faith plays an important role in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s approach to politics, but he doesn’t turn to the Bible to “figure out what I think.”

Instead, he said his push on issues like improving mental health care are driven more by his “heart for people,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”

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“I care about them,” Kasich said. “I’m not saying other people don’t, but it touches me specially.”

Being influenced by your faith means thinking about how policy affects challenged communities, Kasich continued.

“I think it relates to (issues) like early childhood education for kids, people who are in prison, giving them a chance to get their lives back if they want to earn their way there,” he said.

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Kasich added: “Conservatism is giving everybody a chance to be able to be successful. That’s the way (Ronald) Reagan was. I mean, that’s common sense.”

Like several Republican candidates, Kasich is against abortion except for cases of rape, incest and to save a mother’s life. But Kasich said his conservative opponents must draw attention to other issues as well.

“I think (abortion) is an important issue, but I think there’s many other issues that are really critical. Early childhood. Infant mortality. The environment. Education,” he said. “I think we focus too much on just one issue, and now that the issue of gay marriage is kind of off the table, we’re kind of down to one social issue.”

Turning to foreign affairs, Kasich said if he were in the White House, he’d want to partner with other countries to aggressively combat ISIS.

“I would have a coalition of countries, including us, on the ground, beginning to degrade and destroy ISIS. Because as you begin to do it, that whole caliphate begins to fall apart in my judgment,” he said.

Kasich hit Obama for not leaving a base in Iraq when he pulled out combat troops in 2011. He added that the world will likely have to deal with the consequences of ISIS for decades to come.

“I think ISIS has risen, frankly, because there’s been nobody over there to stop them,” he said. “I think that all the religions of the world ought to stand up and say, ‘You blow up innocent men, women and children and you think you’re going to paradise? There’s something wrong with you. You’re nuts. If we catch you, we’re going to throw you into prison, maybe for the rest of your life.’”