In Southfield, Kasich says he’ll beef up U.S. military

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Southfield — Republican presidential candidate John Kasich stopped in Metro Detroit on Monday to discuss national security and foreign policy, promising to rebuild American military and intelligence capabilities if he reaches the Oval Office.

In a wide-ranging session on the campus of Lawrence Technological University, the Ohio governor criticized what he called the inability of President Barack Obama and Congress to financially support the U.S. military and balance the federal budget — a combination he claimed he could deliver.

“I would ... put together a budget that, over time, would take us to balance and be able to produce some surpluses and have national security as one of our highest priorities,” Kasich told the crowd of more than 100. “... Why do people in Washington think it’s so difficult? It’s not that hard. It’s taking this government and making it work.”

Kasich is the latest in the large field of GOP hopefuls to visit southeast Michigan. He appeared at a forum hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security with a focus on foreign policy issues and national security.

The speech was his second appearance in Southfield in a little over a month, following a July 25 speech at a GOP breakfast. Monday’s format allowed Kasich to touch on a variety of subjects, including:

■The need for a balanced budget: “If we don't have a strong economy, all is lost.”

■The Pentagon: “A place that is tangled up with bureaucracy and red tape.”

■The current size of the U.S. Army: “The Army cannot shrink below where it is now. I’d like to see a (standing army) of 450,000 to 500,000.”

■Meta-data collection within the U.S.: “I (support it), but I didn’t ever like it being held by the NSA.”

■Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: “He simply has to go.”

The most recent polls have Kasich in eighth place, trailing the likes of candidates with greater national name recognition such as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, but also behind fellow Midwestern governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Kasich spoke for nearly an hour, drawing clear distinctions between the actions of the current commander in chief and the steps he would have taken under similar circumstances.

He called for responding aggressively to hacking intrusions against the U.S., regardless of where they originate, including offensive cyber responses.

“The situation with the (National Security Agency) is that we don’t have a very good policy in terms of how to respond when we do get hacked ...,” Kasich said. “I think we need to make it clear to those people who hack ... that we not only have the defensive capacity, but the offensive capacity... .”

Jim Manouzzi was among those who took time out of their afternoon to hear Kasich speak. Like many, the 91-year-old Southfield resident is having to work harder than usual in order to get a grasp on all of the Republicans in the presidential field.

“I try to keep up to date if I can,” he said. Manouzzi said he was most interested to hear Kasich’s take in immigration as well as income taxes.

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