Sterling Heights — Ohio Gov. John Kasich stepped up his criticism of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday, panning the billionaire businessman’s vow to deport illegal immigrants, approach to combating the Islamic State and a tacit endorsement of a national registry for Muslims living in America.
“I don’t think we should like force Muslims to report to the federal government and register,” Kasich said after touring a business incubator facility in Sterling Heights. “I don’t think ISIS is going to be defeated by Russia, and we just waltz in. ... I don’t think we’re going to grab 11.5 million out of their homes and ship them back to Mexico, dividing families.”
As his campaign struggles to gain traction against Trump and other GOP presidential contenders, Kasich and the super political action committee that backs him have gone after Trump’s qualifications to be president.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich comments during a stop in Sterling Heights. Chad Livengood, The Detroit News
“I don’t have any personal feelings or any personal animosity toward any of the candidates. It’s just important that we get our policies right so we can beat Hillary (Clinton) in the fall,” he told reporters.
Kasich’s campaign released an Internet video Monday highlighting an exchange Trump had last week with a television reporter in which the real estate mogul appeared to endorse the idea of a federal database tracking people of the Muslim faith for national security purposes.
After drawing wide-ranging criticism, Trump clarified on a Sunday talk show that he wants a database for refugees from predominately Muslim countries who seek political asylum in the United States. Other Republican presidential candidates have denounced the idea of tracking individuals of a particular faith.
New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Kasich, published a web video Monday called “Trump’s Greatest Hits” featuring snippets of video of Trump making disparaging remarks about women, dismissing Arizona Sen. John McCain’s time as a Vietnam prisoner-of-war and speculating that he would date his daughter Ivanka if she “weren’t my daughter.”
Kasich and other career politicians for the Republican presidential nomination have contended GOP primary voters will eventually navigate back to them when Trump’s political inexperience is exposed.
“It’s sort of like ... the snow’s here today and it’s going to be 60 (degrees) on Thanksgiving and everybody will wonder where the snow went,” Kasich said. “I mean, things in politics tend to settle down, and I’m really not focused on that.”
“My biggest challenge is not any of them. My challenge is I’m still largely unknown.”
Trump has largely dismissed Kasich’s candicacy. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that “rumor has it” Kasich, former New York Gov. George Pataki and South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham “are dropping out of the race very soon. Hope it’s not true, they’re so easy to beat!”
“Does he know something I don’t know?” Kasich said Monday in response to what he called Trump’s “speculation.”
The former congressman has campaigned heavily in New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first primary on Feb. 9. Kasich has sought to distinguish himself from the 14-candidate GOP field by touting his chief executive experience as governor of Ohio and 18 years in Congress, including a stint as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee.
“When you’re on an airplane, you like to have a pilot who knows how to land it,” he said.
Since Michigan is a short drive north for the two-term Ohio governor, he also has spent a considerable time in the Great Lakes State stumping for votes.
In his seventh trip to Michigan since March, Kasich on Monday toured Macomb County and Oakland University’s Velocity Collaboration Center, a shared-space business incubator facility in Sterling Heights that is tied into the county’s defense industry.
State and university officials gave Kasich a tour of the facility, including a cyber range that small Michigan software companies can use to test their programs against cyber attacks.
Kasich was scheduled to end his trip in Michigan with a $2,700-a-plate dinner fundraiser in downtown Detroit organized by David Nicholson, chief executive officer of Detroit-based PVS Chemical’s sulfur and distribution groups.