(Reuters) - Ohio Governor John Kasich said on Friday his 2016 presidential aspirations depend on whether he can raise enough money to compete with a host of rivals for the Republican nomination.
Kasich, 62, is considering a run for his party's nomination, which would make him a potentially potent force in the Republican field as he represents an important swing state in presidential elections.
But with more than a dozen Republicans either already in the race or about to enter it, Kasich could easily be just another face on a crowded stage searching for his own breakout moment.
Kasich, a former chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee who was re-elected as Ohio's governor in November, sounded like a presidential candidate during a 45-minute session with reporters at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Kasich, who considered running for the White House in 2000 before bowing out of the race, said he was optimistic that he will be able to move forward with launching a campaign, but did not indicate when he would make up his mind.
"I'm going to determine whether I’ll have the resources to win. If I don't have the resources and I can’t see a path to victory, I’m not going to do that," Kasich said.
Kasich, who served 18 years in Congress, touted his experience as a key selling point for why Republican voters would want to give him a look.
A fiscal conservative with an independent streak, he said he would want to take on the role of problem-solver.
"The country's got a lot of problems. I think whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, the anxiety is not much different," he said.
Kasich's decision to expand Medicaid, a government-funded health program for the poor, in Ohio through President Barack Obama's signature 2010 healthcare law has drawn scorn from conservatives.
Many Republican governors have opted not to expand Medicaid out of opposition to the law, also known as Obamacare. The White House says that position deprives the residents of those states of the federal dollars that would be available to them.
Kasich defended his decision, saying the money is being used to treat 10,000 mentally ill inmates in Ohio prisons.
"Here's what I'm faced with. I've got money I can bring home to Ohio ... It's not Washington's. It's the money that belongs to the people of our state," he said.
Kasich also was unwilling to give his unabashed support to free trade legislation that Obama and Republicans are trying to get passed in Congress, saying he was concerned about its impact on the U.S. labor market.