John Kasich focused on Ohio but leaves presidential door open

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Ohio,2014 Elections,2016 Elections,David M. Drucker,Campaigns,PennAve,John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich declined to rule out running for president in 2016 but insisted his sole focus was on re-election in 2014 and continuing the Buckeye State's economic recovery.

Kasich is considered a potential White House contender, in part because he is the top Republican in the crucial swing state of Ohio. His Democratic opponent in this year's gubernatorial contest, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, has signed a pledge vowing to serve out his four-year term if he ousts Kasich this year, and he has asked the governor to sign that pledge as well.

Kasch has refused, but has dismissed FitzGerald's pledge as the kind of political gimmick he doesn't participate in. Here's what the Ohioan told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace on Sunday when he pressed the governor on his 2016 plans:

“My only focus is now being re-elected and continuing to lift Ohio, period. I don’t fall for gimmicks for this and that — it’s all silly politics. My direction and everything I’m committed to is our great Buckeye State. And at the same time, if I could, I’d suit up and try and help Dayton in that round of the Sweet 16.”

Kasich's prospect in a Republican presidential primary are unclear. On the one hand, he has implemented a host of conservative fiscal reforms in Ohio that have been lauded by Republicans. On the other, he has faced criticism for expanding access to Medicaid, as provided for by President Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, Kasich said he would not resurrect a proposal to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights. The governor's plan to do so was defeated by voters at the ballot box early in his current term. Kasich said he would heed the will of the voters if he is re-elected and maintain his focus on jobs, the economy and education.

“We heard the voters & we’ll move on,” he said.

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David M. Drucker

Senior Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner