VAN WERT — The Republican candidate for governor took a question that didn’t surprise him: “How can we trust you?”
As in, “How do we know you won’t campaign as a small-government guy and then, once elected, binge on the public dollar?”
John Kasich told his Van Wert audience Tuesday he gets it. As chair of the House Budget Committee, Kasich helped balance the federal budget and create a surplus in the 1990s.
“I spent 10 years balancing the budget, and then Republicans went haywire,” Kasich said.
So, when Kasich says he wants to change the way the state government operates, his first argument is that he’s a guy who’s done it.
“Lots say it. I’ve done it,” Kasich said. “Every agency, department and bureau, it all had to be changed to get this done. We need the same practice in Ohio. If we don’t need it, get rid of it. If it’s in the yellow pages, outsource it.”
Kasich is touring the state introducing himself to friendly audiences such as the ones from Tuesday: county Republican parties and service clubs. After a lunch speech in Van Wert, Kasich participated in an agriculture forum and then spoke to Putnam County Republicans in Ottawa at dinner.
Previously a congressman and FOX News television show host, Kasich needs to fill in the blanks for voters; a recent poll said more than 60 percent of Ohioans don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.
He also hits Gov. Ted Strickland on Ohio’s 300,000-plus lost jobs during the recession and Democrats’ use of one-time federal stimulus funds and postponing the last phase of an income tax cut to balance the budget.
“We can’t balance the budget, the regulations are onerous, the taxes are too high, there are too many lawsuits. Job training is not effective,” Kasich said. “We’ve hung signs up at our border that say, ‘Go away.’”
Kasich in the past has touted eliminating the state income tax as part of his platform, but Tuesday emphasized it is part of many other policy ideas, such as regulation and tort reform, to improve the state’s business climate.
Kasich wasn’t specific about what he would cut, but said over time a smaller, more efficient government requires less revenue to fund.