Kasich Pledges To Reverse Obama's Mt. McKinley Name Change

Sep 2, 2015

John Kasich
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Ohio Gov. John Kasich didn't take kindly to President Obama's recent decision to rename Mt. McKinley to its Native American name, Denali.

"If I become president, I’m going to name it back to Mt. McKinley," Kasich said, speaking to NHPR's Morning Edition.

The Alaskan mountain - the highest peak in North America - had been named after former President William McKinley, an Ohio native.

"This is not something we appreciate or agree with in Ohio," Kasich said. "I don’t know why (President Obama) had to do this."

Kasich returns to New Hampshire Wednesday to hold three town hall meetings in Henniker, New London and Lebanon.

You can read the transcript of his interview with Morning Edition below.

You say President Obama overstepped his bounds in the renaming of Mt. McKinley to its Native American name Denali. The peak had been named after former president and Ohio native William McKinley.

Are you saying that the president doesn’t have this authority, or is it you simply disagree with the decision?

You know, I haven’t checked out the Constitution when it comes to naming mountain tops, but if I become president, I’m going to name it back to Mt. McKinley. This is not something we appreciate or agree with in Ohio. I don’t know why (President Obama) had to do this. The reason the mountain was named that way my understanding is a guy was out there climbing, he saw this big peak, and he wanted to celebrate the achievements of President McKinley, so he named it Mt. McKinley. If I win, we’re just going to have to them on notice that we’re just going to have to change all the signs back. Maybe they shouldn’t take the signs down, and they should leave them up, because when I get in, I’m going to move it back.

Last time you were in New Hampshire, you spoke at an education summit, and that’s a topic where you stray from most Republicans in your support of the Common Core.

How do you win over GOP voters who see the standards as a federal overreach?

I think I pretty well explained what it was all about. What we do in Ohio and what I would hope people do around the country is we’ve imposed higher standards in our schools with curriculum to meet the higher standards written by local school boards with parental advisors. I see that as local control. So when we talk about federal overreach, we don’t appreciate any federal overreach. In fact, I’d like to take the K-12 dollars, bundle them together, and let the states be able to design education in terms of what will work for them.

Let’s move now to immigration. You once supported a bill that would have amended the constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship. Do you still hold that position?

No, I do not and you know that I don’t. You sign on to bills, you know, it’s not like the end of the world. I just don’t think it’s an issue that we need to pursue. I think it’s divisive. I think what we need to do is build a fence, make it clear to people who come in once that fence is built that if you sneak in again, you’re going back. No excuses, you’re going back. And for those that are here – the 11 or 12 million – that if you have not committed a crime, then you can be on a path to legalization. And finally, I think we need to have a guest worker program where people can come in, work, and then go back. I also think it’s worth taking a look at the entire visa process that we have in this country and get these things straightened out.

On national security, you’ve said you support sending in troops to fight a ground war against the so-called Islamic State. But long term, what’s your strategy for stabilizing the region?

I think first of all, let’s deal with the crisis. We should be part of a coalition that should destroy ISIS. It’s either you pay me now or you pay me more later. Secondly, I think we also have to engage in a battle of ideas. I think there’s a military side to this, but I also think there’s an idea side of this. When we see young people trying to gravitate to ISIS, we gotta ask ourselves what’s going on. It’s not just young people. It’s highly educated people, successful people. So it’s not just a battle on the battlefield, but it’s also winning the battle of ideas and making it clear, particularly with all the great religions of the world, that you don’t get a trip to paradise by blowing up women and children or anybody else in a marketplace. This is an attack on Western civilization and the civilized world needs to stand up and say enough.

But in the short term, by putting boots on the ground, do you think that would exacerbate the situation?

No, I think it would destroy ISIS and begin to unravel the caliphate and begin to deal with all these horrific thing we read about every day.

You don’t worry about a vacuum being formed and another group moving in?

No, that’s not my concern.