Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn't banking on the idea that attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or GOP frontrunner Donald Trump will help in the polls as he mounts a bid for the 2016 Republican nomination.
"My approach is to let people know what I'm I'll about," Kasich said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," pointing to his 18 years in Congress and economic record as governor of Ohio.
Plus, he has some success as the underdog in previous elections, and he's counting on that to carry him through this time.
"I beat an incumbent Democrat when I ran for the legislature at the age of 26. I was the only Republican to defeat an incumbent Democrat in 1982 for Congress running on the record of Ronald Reagan. And I was the first one to defeat an incumbent of any party in 36 years here in Ohio and, of course, ran for reelection and won the second largest second largest electoral victory in the history of the state," Kasich said. "I'm sort of into letting people know what I'm for...and I expect to win this one as well but with a message that's bigger, not one that's smaller."
He attributed Trump's success in the Republican field to an electorate that is "fed up and frustrated" but he predicted that the American people don't "want to lie in a state of pessimism."
"I just don't stay on the negative side of things. I want to move to the positive," he said, recalling his push to balance the budget that led to the 1990s budget wars with former President Bill Clinton and ensuing government shutdown. "A lot of Republicans didn't want me to put forward the ideas that the Republicans were for. And we did it. We were successful. We won the majority. And then we went on to balance the budget."
Moderator John Dickerson asked Kasich to weigh in on the issue of tax increases and spending cuts. In 2012, none of the GOP candidates said they would trade $1 in tax increases for $10 in spending cuts, and Kasich said right now, he wouldn't either.
"If the government takes more, they'll spend it," Kasich said. He added that in Ohio, where he has been governor since 2011, he has had the largest tax cuts of any sitting governor and has still managed to eliminate the state's deficit and grow hundreds of thousands of jobs.
"Why would I change the formula?" Kasich said. "Doesn't make any sense." He said he still believed he would be able to get some members of the Democratic party to work with him if he becomes president.
Kasich parts ways with the other GOP candidates on both tone and some issues like Medicaid and immigration. When asked about Republicans who say they'll be voted out by the conservative base if they support any sort of immigration reform efforts, Kasich shrugged off those concerns.
"We're not in office to stay in office. We should go into public office for the purposes of making things better," he said. "When you finally walk out of public office and look yourself in the mirror, if all you did was play politics, how are you supposed to feel about what you did when you took time away from your family and your friends?"
He thinks the solution to the immigration problem is to finish building a wall with Mexico and make it clear that any future border crossers will be sent back. He said he would also legalize the people who are in the U.S. illegally but don't have any criminal records, and he would have a guest worker program.
"I think the country can unite around that," he said.