Kasich: Republicans ‘Have Got to Reach Out Across the Aisle’

By Susan Jones | March 27, 2017 | 6:58 AM EDT

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former contender for the Republican presidential nomination, appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, March 26, 2017. (Screen grab from CNN)

(CNSNews.com) – “You cannot have major changes in major programs affecting things like health care without including Democrats from the very beginning and asking them to be constructive,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former Republican presidential contender, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“So, they have got to reach out across the aisle. And Democrats have to say, we will work with you to improve and fix this plan for people.”

Kasich said it would be “pathetic” if Democrats put partisanship above the good of the country:

And if the Democrats don't want to reach out and be constructive, then call them on it. Talk about the fact that they won't help, because many of them will, if it's put to them.

Look, the exchanges in Obamacare are disintegrating. This is not a situation that is going to do anything other than leave people who are vulnerable in a very bad position. So, this is a time to -- for America to stand up.

And I understand that Donald Trump has said, maybe we should have done this more with Democrats. Right now, off the get-go, it's all partisan. The Democrats did it with Obamacare, and it's not sustainable. And the Republicans tried to do it with just Republicans.

It doesn't work like that in our country. We're not a parliamentary system. And whenever you continue to operate like that, what you pass will never be sustainable. And it will -- the people of this country, particularly the vulnerable, the mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the chronically ill, who will pay the price for politics. It needs to stop.

Kasich said the “extremes” in both parties should be “marginalized” so “reasonable” Republicans and Democrats can get something done.

“Frankly, if Republicans quietly, over time, will reach out to Democrats, find the constructive ones, you will begin to marginalize the extremes.

“And you know what? When people say in my state we should drop 700,000 people, a third of whom are mentally ill or drug-addicted or -- and a quarter of whom are chronically ill, and we should turn our back on them, that's not America. That's not a country that loves all of its citizens. That is really extreme. Frankly, it borders on mean.”

(Kasich apparently was talking about Rep. Jim Jordan – an Ohio Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus who strongly opposed the Republican repeal and replace plan because it didn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare -- including the Medicaid expansion -- and lowering the cost of premiums.)

Kasich said he still thinks there’s a chance for Republicans, working with Democrats, to improve the health insurance system:

“They cannot walk away, close their eyes, and lock the door, because the system is not healthy. And Obamacare needs to be significantly reformed. And it can be constructively.

"I talked to Senator Portman on Friday. I'm going to be in Washington on Monday with a few meetings with some constructive members. This cannot go away, Dana, because there are too many people's lives that are at stake if we fail to be able to reform this program.

"This is serious, serious stuff. And the idea that it's a quaint notion that Republicans and Democrats ought to work together, that's how broken that city is...Maybe what the president needs to do is, he needs to call everybody out and say, let's grow up and let's serve America."

For the record, Kasich told guest host Dana Bash that he is “not really interested in running for political office again. I'm interested in being a voice that can help bring the country together again.”

“So, you're not running for political office again? You're not going to run for president?” Bash asked him.

“I don't -- I don't -- I don't see it. I just don't see it,” Kasich said, adding, “You don’t close the door on anything.”

Indeed.

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