Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the U.S. needs Muslim allies to stop the Islamic State group, even if that means allowing regional powers to create a new Middle East. As Republican presidential candidates debated how to fight ISIS militants Thursday night in Miami, Kasich took the opportunity to remind voters that he spent 18 years on the armed services committee in one final attempt to persuade Americans that he is the Republican contender to keep business mogul Donald Trump from becoming the GOP nominee.
“We absolutely have to win this with a coalition,” Kasich said of the war against ISIS. “It’s gotta be shock and awe, in the military speak... and we will wipe them out... and let the regional powers redraw the map if that’s the only choice.”
Trump, who has called for bombing terrorists and their families and accused Muslims of hating the U.S., said more troops is probably the answer. “I would listen to the generals, but I am hearing numbers of 20-30,000,” he said.
Thursday's debate comes ahead of next week's "Super Tuesday 3," when more than 350 delegates up for grabs, including in Florida and Ohio. Kasich, who has yet to win a single state and is in fourth place in the delegate count, is hoping to turn his campaign around by wining his home state of Ohio after a new national poll this week put him ahead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But after he finished in third place Tuesday in Michigan, a state where he spent a lot of campaign hours, it's unclear if he will be able to secure his first victory. There are 66 delegates up for grabs in Ohio's winner-take-all primary.
As Kasich has recovered in the polls in recent weeks and won second place in New Hampshire, his once largely ignored campaign has found itself caught in the cross hairs of his rivals. Trump twice called Kasich an “absentee” governor this week, while a super PAC supporting Rubio’s presidential candidacy, Conservative Solutions PAC, purchased Wednesday $1 million in television ad time in Florida and $268,000 in Illinois for spots against Kasich, NBC News reported.
The second-term Ohio governor has the kind of establishment resume and moderate views that could sway voters turned off by Trump's divisive rhetoric and Rubio's sinking polls numbers. He is the former House budget chairman and spent years as an executive at Lehman Brothers. He opposed government funding for Planned Parenthood and vowed to protect undocumented immigrant families from deportation.
But he has often been overshadowed by Trump's in-your-face approach to politics. As Trump doubled-down on his remarks that Islam hates Americans during the CNN debate, Kasich called for a more inclusive foreign policy approach.
Radical Islam, he said, is an enemy of “other Muslims.”