Ohio Gov. John Kasich admits a lot of people have trouble pegging where he fits in the Republican spectrum, but he told CNN's "State of the Union"
he has as much a right as anyone else to define what conservatism is.
Some have trouble labeling Kasich a conservative because his language sounds like many on the left when he talks social issues. He accepted Medicaid expansion funds and talks about helping those "in the shadows."
"I've never put myself in a box," Kasich told host Gloria Borger. "So we're balancing budgets, we're cutting taxes."
But he's taking some of that economic success and using it helping the mentally ill, the drug addicted and the working poor.
"Matthew 25 says that it's about how you treat the widowed, how you treat the poor, how you treat the hungry. How do you clothe those who have no clothes," he said. "That is a conservative position to help them get on their feet so they then can assume their rightful place in our society."
The faith community is part of the conservative movement, he said, and you can't "just kick people to the shadows or push them off the side of the road."
Kasich served Ohio in Congress from 1983 to 2001, and said he has the same right as anybody in the Republican Party to define what conservatism means.
"We've cut taxes more than anybody in the country, and they are wondering about my conservatism?" he said. "Maybe I should wonder about theirs."
He took jabs at fellow Republican and likely 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Paul has been critical of governors who took expanded Medicaid funds.
In Kentucky, "maybe everybody's fine, maybe there aren't people who are suffering these problems," Kasich said.
On Clinton, he said, "You know, I like Hillary, but I'm not ever going to be for her for president."
Kasich said he is considering a run for that office himself, adding that no Republican has ever been elected without winning the swing state of Ohio.
That's likely because candidates verging too far from center can't win Ohio – and can't be elected in a general election, he said.
"If they are going to come to Ohio, extremism isn't going to work," he said.
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