One day after urging creation of a new federal agency to promote “core Judeo-Christian western values,” Republican presidential candidate John Kasich instead said he would upgrade the existing Voice of America to “engage in the war of ideas” against the Islamic State.
Speaking to reporters after an appearance Wednesday at a Christian university here, Kasich said he does not believe “you need a new agency. It’s really breathing life into something that’s kind of become dormant,” he said, adding “you don’t hear much about the Voice of America anymore.”
“Once we defeat (Islamic State militants) with bullets, which we need to do and need to do now, we then can engage in the battle of ideas so that these radical groups don’t crop up one after another,” Kasich said.
Although Kasich aides insisted his plan was to consolidate existing agencies as opposed to creating a new entity, the Ohio governor appeared to modify an approach he outlined in a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
In that speech, Kasich said federal broadcasting agencies “have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation.”
Kasich said he would “consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian values that we and our friends and allies share,” such as human rights and freedom of speech, adding the agency should “focus on four critical targets — the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia.”
Critics complained Kasich wanted to increase the size of the federal government with a new agency, but also have the U.S. government promote religious values.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who like Kasich is running for the GOP nomination for president, told Real Clear Politics, “I don’t think we should be promoting Judeo-Christian values in the Arab world. I think that was the Crusades.”
But Kasich said “we represent the western ethic, western values,” saying “we’re talking fundamentally about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the ability to gather to address our grievances, the equality of women.”
Kasich attempted this week to outline a more aggressive strategy to defeat the Islamic State militants who murdered 129 people in a terrorist attack last Friday in Paris. While he has repeatedly said that ground forces may have to be introduced as part of a larger international coalition, he has argued the West must devise ways to discourage young Muslims from joining terrorist groups.
The Voice of America broadcasts news programs throughout the world, reaching millions of people every day.
Kasich, who filed papers to appear on Virginia’s Republican primary ballot next year, made a clear bid today to try and win the backing of Christian conservatives by speaking at Regent University, a Christian school founded by evangelist Pat Robertson.
Wearing a business suit, blue shirt and tie, Kasich stood on stage and spoke for about 10 minutes to the more than 700 people packing the university auditorium. Then Robertson came on stage and asked Kasich questions about the Middle East, taxes and regulations.
“We are facing group that is intent on destroying our very way of life,” Kasich said of the Islamic State. “They want to destroy who we are and how we think and there unfortunately can be zero compromise with this group.”
Jessica Wehrman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.
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