COLUMBUS (AP) — The state and nation need an infusion of basic values like responsibility, resilience and empathy in order to meet future challenges, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Monday as he kicked off his second term.
During a high-energy inaugural celebration featuring a marching band and gospel choir, the Republican governor delivered a variation on President John F. Kennedy’s ask-not speech.
“Don’t ask what someone else can do for you, but what you can do to help yourself and to help someone else,” Kasich told supporters gathered at the historic Southern Theater in Columbus. Absent was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose planned appearance was called off due to weather.
Kasich, 62, said fellow Republicans sometimes mistake economic prosperity as the end goal.
“Economic growth provides the means whereby we can reach out and help those who live in the shadows,” he said. Among those are the needy, the mentally ill and the undereducated.
Kasich fought back tears toward the end of the address as he pledged to spend every day trying to help each Ohioan achieve their full potential.
Sometimes faulted for the extent of the reforms he’s sought, Kasich said he doesn’t intend to let up on the new ideas that became a signature of his first term, including rethinking Ohio’s economic development system, its social services delivery and even its two-year budget process.
“Make no mistake. If we’re not innovating and growing and changing, we’re dying, and there’s nothing in between,” he said. “Throughout human history, throughout the history of the world, those institutions which embraced innovation, risk-taking and a certain fearlessness — fearlessness — they achieved great things for our society.”
He said complacency got the state in trouble before, leaving it struggling when he first took office in 2011.
“That’s why Ohio got so far off the track, not just in recent memory but over the past few generations,” Kasich said. “We began to think our success was our birthright, that we would always be an economic powerhouse. We thought it was just in our DNA.”
The potential 2016 president contender drew applause when he called for end to partisan bickering, saying someone who doesn’t share your opinion isn’t the enemy.
“We’re Ohioans and we’re Americans,” he said. “We can’t be partisans and we can’t be extreme ideologues if we’re going to deal with the problems in America.”
Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper said his party is willing to work with the Kasich administration during the next term, challenging him to make a reality of some of Monday’s statements.
Pepper said in a statement that Kasich’s first term was marked by “an agenda that divided our state with attacks on public workers, tax changes that shifted a greater burden onto the backs of working Ohioans in order to benefit the wealthy, and budgets that raided funds from local communities causing many families to struggle.”
The governor had been formally sworn at midnight, and he completes the day Monday with an inaugural gala. The party coincides with the Ohio State Buckeyes’ bid for the national championship against Oregon.
Kasich has said he’ll make wide-screen TVs available for fans.