Ohio Gov. John Kasich told a business group in South Carolina Wednesday that he favors flattening out the tax system and took a shot at Ohio’s business community for opposing his efforts to raise sales taxes in exchange for lower income taxes.
“I’ve got the business community almost en masse against me because they get affected by this,” he said. “ They’ve got a short-term view when we need to take the long-term view.”
The comments provide a glimpse of what Kasich might say on the campaign trail when or if he decides whether to run for president. But you don’t have to read too far between the lines to see which direction he is leaning.
“If I got to New Hampshire and get blown out, the campaign’s over,” he said of the first state to hold a full-fledged primary. “If I go to New Hampshire and do well, we’ll be having more seafood here.”
Sources close to Kasich say an announcement could come around June 30.
At the chamber event and again before a friendly crowd at a tap room in Mount Pleasant, Kasich presented himself as a candidate who gets things done.
“People call me the CEO of Ohio more than the governor,” he said.
He spoke at length about taxes, mentioning that he’s had several conversations with onetime GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes about a plan that would allow Americans to choose between the current tax system in place or opt for a simple flat tax.
“I think flatter makes more sense,” he said, adding that ideally both the income tax and corporate tax will be lower.
In both Charleston and Mount Pleasant, multiple voters stood up and announced their own Ohio backgrounds: Cleveland and Cincinnati, Dayton and Piqua.
“We’re very excited about his candidacy,” former Dayton resident Joyce Petzold said about Kasich.
Not all were as sold on the Ohio governor as Petzold – but all seemed open to a Kasich candidacy.
“I wish I could take all of the Republican candidates, take the good things from all of them and meld them into one,” said Chloe Singleton Huddleston, a native of Cleveland who now lives in Mount Pleasant.
Kasich’s visit came after he made a number of stops Tuesday in Georgia, where he defended his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and called for a redefinition of what it means to be a conservative.
“I think that sometimes our party gets trapped, in being afraid to emote and to tell people that we care about them, we think about them, we want to help them,” he said. “That’s part of being a conservative — to help lift people.”
Asked Wednesday how he planned to distinguish himself from the cast of dozens running or possibly running in the GOP, Kasich said he felt “better and better about how things are looking for me.”
He acknowledged that Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has a clear advantage in that state, but said, “maybe it’s who finishes second or third” that will matter.
“The beauty of the early states is you get on a rocket ship, and it doesn’t matter, frankly, right now what they think of me in Hawaii,” he said. “What matters is what they think about me in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution contributed to this story.
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