Columns

Kasich on Rhetoric 'Like a Civil War': Must 'Think Positively About Your Enemies'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich walks out of the White House in Washington on Feb. 24, 2017, to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Pittsburgh native, said a key response to Saturday’s synagogue massacre should be recognizing “it’s harder to be able to even think positively about your enemies but we need to begin to do that.”

Kasich told MSNBC today that he lowered the flags to half-staff “within just a few hours” after the shooting in which 11 people were murdered “because you know it’s really an attack on all of us.”

“It’s an attack on the Jewish faith, it’s an attack on all faiths and if there’s anything that we need in this country is we do need a revival of – and people talk about love, and I happen to believe that God is love and I happen to believe that we need a bigger and bigger dose and we all need to buckle up a little bit and realize that we do – we are expected to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper,” he said, adding that that “sometime at the end of our lives we will be asked about what we did for those around us, for the least of those around us, for our enemies.”

Asked about former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying that President Trump “has the largest bullhorn” and thus the greatest responsibility to “set the tone,” Kasich said he has “very, very strong about my feeling about how the president has conducted himself, it’s part of the reason why I didn’t endorse him, but as long as we’re going to go back and forth, you know, this and that, I don’t know how we – it’s like a civil war. How do we ever stop it?”

The president has “a giant responsibility to bring healing and not charge people up,” he added.

“But now I have to also say it’s on all of us, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s on everybody to stop this because what’s happening as we reach a fevered pitch then what happens is people who are unstable, unbalanced, or sick, can have a tendency to do crazy things. There’re 11 people dead over in Pittsburgh and when I look at that and I look at the bombs that were sent around the country, what I try to say is, we all, all of us, Republicans Democrats, we all have to take a deep breath,” Kasich said.

The governor said that after he’s gone he wants to be remembered as a guy who “could brawl with the best of them but he always figured out how to maintain a bridge.”

“I’m as frustrated as you are, I ran against the guy, OK? I stood on that stage and listened to all the back and forth and people getting in the mud and it’s continued ever since and it’s terrible. But I’m saying, that both sides have to have some responsibility for this, both sides have to say OK, it’s going to start with me,” Kasich continued.

“If I were in another battle with him, I didn’t insult him, I don’t intend to, because the minute I do that, I go down that path and I don’t want to be on that path and we all have to figure out what we can do. Look, I think the success in politics today is be able to appeal to the higher, moral ground, to the fact that those people — when 11 people die in a synagogue, praying in the morning, a little bit of all of us dies, right?”