Livonia – Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Tuesday an alliance of countries similar to the coalition that waged the first Gulf War against Iraq is needed to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group occupying vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.
“None of us want to end up in a war again, but unfortunately we’re going to have to go take care of business,” the Ohio governor said at a Tuesday morning town hall event in Livonia. “I wish the president would do it, but he won’t. And the longer we delay, the harder it will be or the more costly it will be.”
Kasich spoke for an hour before a crowd of an estimated 500 attendees who packed into a suburban retail space. He touched on a range of issues, from the need for more money for medical research of depression to some of the country’s most pressing foreign policy challenges.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have to destroy ISIS and tell the rest of the world – a lot of these people out there who are confused – what we’re all about, which is human rights, the rights of women, the rights of people to protest against the government, the right to respect civilization and science, and so many of the things we believe in in the West,” Kasich said.
Dorian Thompson, 18, of Plymouth, asked Kasich a question about the threat of ISIS and global terrorists and said he was pleased with the candidate's response.
"If we keep sitting like lame ducks and do nothing, (ISIS) is just going to get stronger," Thompson said. "I wish more young folks like myself would get out and listen to him as well, instead of just (Democrat) Bernie Sanders."
U.S. Sen. Sanders of Vermont held Democratic presidential campaign rallies in Ypsilanti and Dearborn on Monday, attracting large crowds of younger voters who are attracted to his anti-war message and promise to deliver completely taxpayer-funded college tuition and health care.
The second-term governor and former congressman said he would arm the Japanese with a missile defense system to protect against North Korea’s development of nuclear arms.
Kasich was restrained in his description of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
“Let’s say unstable,” he said. “You can say crazy, but I say unstable because I want to be a leader of the world.”
The Ohio governor, who came in second in New Hampshire's primary last week, also said he favors providing military arms to Ukraine to guard against the aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kasich said he would be more forceful with Putin than outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama has been.
"Here's what I would tell (Putin): 'We are going to arm the Ukranians, they are going to fight for their own freedom and you're not going to stop them. And secondly, if you think that you can go in and invade our allies in Eastern Europe, and you think you're going to do that on some trumped-up excuse about Russian-speaking people? That's an attack on us, Mr. Putin,'" Kasich said to applause.
Kasich spent 18 years on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in the 1980s and 1990s and emphasized foreign policy issues after his campaign announced the addition of 25 experts in national security advising his campaign. The group included former Michigan U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, the ex-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Kasich’s town hall event in Livonia was the fourth stop of a two-day tour through Michigan that began Monday and included campaign stops at Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University and Utica. Hoekstra campaigned with Kasich at Grand Valley State's Allendale campus on Monday.
At MSU Monday afternoon, Kasich said the federal government should re-examine water treatment regulations in light of Flint's lead-contaminated water crisis.
The governor took precious time off the trail in South Carolina, where there is a primary on Saturday, to devote to Michigan in advance of its March 8 primary, which a Kasich strategist sees as a must-win contest. There also will be a March 3 debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit hosted by Fox News.
Also Monday, the Kasich campaign announced former Michigan Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob has joined the campaign as a state co-chairman.
"I've been in this business a long time, and you don't see a candidate like John Kasich come along too often," Chuck Yob said in a statement. "He easily has the best resume in the field."
Yob was previously affiliated with Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign until Paul dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary. Yob's son, John Yob, was Paul's national political director but has not joined any other presidential campaign.