To monitor potential terrorists, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said the American people would support the “capture and storage” of their telephone records for federal intelligence agencies to analyze.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a Republican presidential candidate, has been an outspoken critic of the NSA’s collection of cell phone data, recently targeting presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his position on the issue.
“I think it’s a big mistake for Marco Rubio to call for collecting the phone records of every American. I think he’s on the wrong side of history,” Paul said after the terrorist attack in Paris.
During his appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kasich also reacted to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S.
“Since we are a nation of laws, efforts to counter terrorists, criminals, and spies can and must be done in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties. But in fulfilling its duty to protect our nation, the government must be able to monitor individuals it has reasonable cause to believe mean us harm. The San Bernardino attacks show that sometimes – especially with individuals who are off the radar – enabling intelligence agencies to analyze telephone calling data quickly could play an essential role in uncovering terrorist planning and networks,” Kasich said.
“I do believe the American people would support the capture and storage of this information for defense purposes, provided that access to it will not be abused. We may, therefore, need to re-examine the period of time for which telephone metadata should be required to be held in storage specifically for counterterrorism purposes – that review should look into tightening the criteria for access to the data, and strong sanctions should follow if there is an abuse.”
Kasich told the moderator of the discussion that he has not been attacking Trump but instead criticizing his ideas, such as the proposal regarding Muslim immigrants.
“Look, people don’t buy this. Oh, there may be a few, but this doesn’t represent what we are. But you know, when you’re in an American Idol primary, all kinds of crazy things happen, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s certainly not the way we function as a country. We have never been strong by focusing on things that are designed to divide us.”
Kasich said a number of moderate Muslims have come out and said that their religion has been hijacked.
“They have condemned aggressively the attacks all over the world and you know, Bernard Lewis wrote a great book, I think, called What Went Wrong, where he talked about the need for Islam to reclaim itself – and I see signs of people wanting to fight for what their religion is really all about,” he said.
Kasich was asked if he would support Trump as the GOP nominee.
“I signed a pledge — it’s why you have to be careful what pledges you sign — that I would support the Republican nominee. Now, look, is it possible that you change your mind? Yeah. It takes something extreme to do it. But I will tell you, sir, there’s no way that Donald Trump’s going to be president,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for weeks. I don’t even take it seriously because he isn’t going to win. It’s not going to happen and maybe we can all learn a little lesson from all of this.”
He also ruled out serving as vice president.
“I wouldn’t run for vice president on any ticket, OK? I’m not running for vice president. I got the second-best job in America, governor of Ohio, and so don’t be thinking about vice president for Kasich – ain’t going to happen. Mark my words,” he said.
During his speech, Kasich called for boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS.
“Mark my words, we will all be on the ground sooner or later. Sooner is better than later. The loss of life, the delay — the loss of life if we delay will be greater and the mission will be more difficult, and we need to make it clear to our European allies that just sending some people to drop bombs is not going to solve their problem in their homeland or our ability as the civilized world to defeat ISIS,” he said.
The Republican presidential candidates are set for a CNN debate on Dec. 15.