COLUMBUS (AP) — With a week left in his re-election bid, Republican Gov. John Kasich said Tuesday he’s focused on his current job and not looking beyond it to higher office.
Asked at a forum whether he’ll run for president, Kasich said he’s blessed to be Ohio’s governor.
Pressed further about getting into the contest, he told the moderator, “I don’t have any intention of doing that.”
The Republican incumbent has led in fundraising and in the polls during the governor’s race. His strength and position as the top elected official in one of the nation’s key swing states has fueled renewed talk he may again seek the presidency in 2016, more than a decade after his first flirtation with the White House.
“I’m blessed to be in this job, and I don’t look beyond my purpose here as governor,” Kasich told the audience at Tuesday’s forum organized by the Columbus Metropolitan Club.
Kasich is running largely on Ohio’s improved economy under his watch, a bounce tied at least in part to recovery from a national recession.
The governor said he isn’t lacking in ideas for a second term. He discussed his push to increase taxes on the oil and gas industry, along with bolstering regulations.
Outside the event, a few demonstrators were protesting against the use of hydraulic fracturing in the state. Fracking involves the high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals into shale to break up the rock and release trapped oil and gas.
While Kasich said he supports the oil and gas industry, he said there is a proper way for them to operate in the state.
“If you don’t regulate this thing right, you’re gonna lose people in the communities who are going to say it’s dangerous,” Kasich said. “And it is not dangerous.”
The governor also said he wants out-of-state oil and gas companies to hire Ohioans. “I don’t want a bunch of people from Oklahoma.”
Making light of the presidential question he took earlier, Kasich quickly added that he loves Oklahoma — and Iowa, which is home of the first presidential caucuses. “I love everybody everywhere,” he said to laughter.
Kasich’s challengers — Democrat Ed FitzGerald and Green Party candidate Anita Rios — have previously appeared at separate forums.
Lacking an agreement, no gubernatorial debates were held this cycle for the first time in decades.