Ohio Gov. John Kasich called the Republican presidential primary delegate process “bizarre” on Monday and said the Republican National Convention should adopt rules that would open up the nomination to more candidates.
He also reiterated his call for states to “move on” from passing so-called religious liberty laws, as well as commented on his faith and favorite pastimes during CNN’s town hall moderated by Anderson Cooper, featuring Kasich’s wife, Karen, and two daughters, Emma and Reese.
Asked about rival Ted Cruz’s comments that the RNC should preserve a rule requiring that candidates get a majority of delegates in at least eight states – Kasich called for an “open” convention, not a “closed” one.
“We’re reaching out, Anderson, all over. It’s a bizarre process,” he said.
Kasich said he was confident he would prevail in a contested convention in July because he’s the only candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
“I don’t know how many rounds it’s going to take, but if I’m the only one who can win in the fall, why would you pick somebody else?’ Kasich said.
He predicted, based on his own experience as a delegate for Ronald Reagan at a contested convention in 1976, that once delegates are seated, they’ll come around to him.
“It will become a very serious, heavy matter when we get into that convention, and it’s all about the delegates,” said the Ohio governor, who trails both his rivals, Donald Trump and Cruz, in the delegate race.
And he drove home that he has the foreign policy experience and sensibility to beat Clinton.
“Wouldn’t you rather pick someone who can defeat Hillary rather than someone who loses to her all the time?” he said.
Kasich brushed off the notion that the Republican National Convention rules committee might block him from contention for the nomination in July – despite Cruz and Trump saying they will support a rule that requires a majority of delegates in eight states to be eligible.
“He spent $1 million making stuff up about me in Wisconsin, of course he would say that,” Kasich said of Cruz.
He predicted that the committee will want an “open” not “closed” convention.
“I think the rules will be open, and even if they’re not, I’m still going in there with significant delegates, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Kasich said.
Kasich previewed a “hard-hitting” speech he plans to deliver Tuesday calling out his rivals, Cruz and Trump, for stoking people’s fears.
The speech will be called “two paths,” he said.
“The first path is feeding on people’s fears and driving us into a ditch,” Kasich said. “It just creates more anger, it’s exploiting people’s anxiety.”
He derided Trump and Cruz, without naming them, for calling people “losers,” saying things are “terrible,” offering “whimsical solutions” and calling for “banning” people who are different.
He previewed his alternative, which is to bring people together, he said.
“The other way is to tell people yeah we have problems but they can be fixed,” Kasich said. “I think it’s pretty hard-hitting and I think people will pay attention.”
Family on bid
Kasich’s family said they fully support his run for president.
“I think he can fix the United States and make it better,” said Reese Kasich, one of his twin daughters.
His wife, Karen, also said she has supported his political career since he ran for governor of Ohio, believing he was the best leader for the state.
Through it all, Kasich insisted his family life is “normal” – including living in their own home instead of a governor’s mansion.
“Their friends come around and they’re like, ‘Hi Mr. Kasich,’ ” Kasich said. “Our life is like, normal … You know over the weekend Sunday, I watched golf, I didn’t shave, I went to the gym, I shopped at Kroger’s, just normal stuff.”
Kasich’s daughters said they don’t see much of the negativity on the campaign trail, and even if they did, it wouldn’t bother them.
“I know my Dad better than anyone who’s saying stuff on social media does,” Reese said.
But the girls don’t have their father’s bug for politics.
“No,” Emma said when asked if she would have any interest in following her dad’s footsteps.
“I want to make some money first,” Reese said.
Not funny, not a dancer
Kasich’s twin 16-year-old daughters also weighed in on his quirkier habits in response to a voter question.
“He just tries to tell jokes that he thinks are funny, but they’re mostly just funny to us because they’re dumb,” Emma said.
Reese chimed in: “And he also thinks he’s a really good dancer.”
Kasich teased back with her, asking her to admit: “I’ve gotten better?”
“Yeah, but you’re not going to go on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” Reese shot back at her father.
Asked a question about his faith, Kasich said, “I’m a fan of the Pope, I like the Pope.”
He said he appreciates the way the Pope Francis talks about religion.
“The Pope has spent more talking about the ‘do’s’ in religion than the ‘don’ts,’ ” Kasich said. “I believe religion is about what you should do, not what you shouldn’t do. It’s humility, it’s about loving somebody who doesn’t love you … living a life that’s bigger than yourself.”
He also said he’s not as concerned about denominations and divisions.
“I don’t find much difference between any of these faiths, they’re all about mostly the same thing,” Kasich said.
Kasich said it was time to get over religious liberty laws in the United States that allow businesses to deny service to gay people over religious objections.
“What the hell are we doing in this country?” Kasich exclaimed as he described a similar law just passed in Mississippi.
“You know what, let’s try to understand each other a little bit,” Kasich said, saying even though he believes in “traditional marriage,” he and his wife happily attended a gay wedding they were invited to.
He said just because he objects to gay marriage, it doesn’t need to be legislated. He said some politicians are just looking for “attention” with these bills.
“Let’s move on,” he said.