DES MOINES, Iowa, August 18, 2015 – After days of back-to-back performances by presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair, Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday tried to set himself apart from the pack as someone who cares about his fellow man – both here and abroad – and encourages others to do the same.
The nation needs a strong leader, but government alone can’t fix problems, he told a crowd packed into the Horner Service Center, after his “soapbox” speech on the Des Moines Register’s outdoor stage was moved indoors due to heavy rain.
He called on Americans to accept personal responsibility and help young people, providing a sense of community for others in need.
“It’s about us. It’s about citizenship. It’s about believing that we are the glue that holds America together - not somebody else,” he emphasized.
Kasich, who touted his record in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served for 18 years -- including time as Budget Committee chairman -- called for more bipartisanship to solve the nation’s toughest problems. He said the Republican Party has always been his “vehicle,” but never his “master.”
“You want to fix the fence? You want to deal with immigration? You want to balance a budget? You want to deal with entitlements?” he asked the crowd. “You want to do any of those things, you have to do it as a team. One party can’t do it all.”
Earlier, Agri-Pulse caught up with Kasich at the Fair's open-air cattle barn where he bantered with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Ohio State Sen. Bob Peterson, who is advising him on farm and rural issues.
As cows were escorted to and from the show ring, Branstad and Reynolds offered advice on everything from renewable energy policy to what to see (the butter cow and the big bull and boar) and what to eat (pork chops and burgers) and the latest concert performers.
Kasich was listening intently and asking questions about how Iowa leaders handled tax credits for different forms of renewable energy, like wind.
In 2014, Kasich signed a bill freezing Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), saying at the time that the plan was “well intentioned” but a “challenge to job creation and Ohio’s economic recovery."
Kasich said an Ohio task force is working to reset the renewable standard to better “fit our economy…. The standard was plucked out of the air and it just didn’t fit,” he added. “We can’t be having our industries laying people off because of high energy costs…. You don’t want to drive up the cost of energy when trying to get companies to expand or even to move to Ohio… or to America.”
Asked about his perspectives on environmental issues, Kasich noted that leaders in his state have “already gone through some tough things like Lake Erie,” where algal blooms and high nutrient levels have damaged water supplies in some Ohio cities.
He said that State Sen. Bob Peterson played a “pivotal role in terms of what we do with fertilizer on frozen ground and helped fashion a deal that both the farm community and environmentalists supported.
“So I think it is possible to bring those groups together if you can be creative and people can be grownups,” he added.
Kasich told Agri-Pulse that he is "very concerned about the extreme EPA regulatory environment.
“The EPA has been overzealous and I think they exceed their authority,” he said.
Asked if he would keep the agency in place if he were president, Kasich said, “We are not going to abolish the EPA, we just want to make sure it operates like our (Ohio) EPA which is common sense, protecting the environment, which is not inconsistent with economic growth.
“We have to protect the environment. If people are going to be cavalier about it they will have to deal with us. But if they are hardworking and trying to do the right thing, we work with them.”
When it comes to expanding international trade that’s so critical to U.S. farmers and ranchers, Kasich said that “overall, I’m a free trader, but I’m a fair trader.”
While serving in Congress, he voted to approve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and said he would likely support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that’s currently being negotiated.
Yet, he said that trade deals must not create a situation where “people take advantage of the rules to steal our jobs” and called for more expedited rules so that “when people are dumping that we can stop it."
Later in the afternoon, Kasich did his fair share of stimulating the Iowa agricultural economy. He made his way over to the Iowa Pork Producers Association tent, where – like several prospective presidential candidates before him – he cooked pork burgers on the grill. Before his state fair tour was over, he downed three pork chops, a side of beans and a roasted ear of corn on the cob.
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