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Conversation with Governor of Ohio, John Kasich; A window into North Korea. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 15, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, he was the last Republican standing against Donald Trump in the race to become US
president. And we have our conversation with the Ohio governor, John Kasich, about the polarization of US politics and the immigration
initiative that he has just unveiled. Could his vision for a more moderate America help him wrest his party from President Trump?
Also ahead, a window into North Korea. The World Food Programme head and a former governor of South Carolina, David Beasley, tells me about a new
sense of optimism that he found inside the hermit kingdom.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
American voters are casting primary ballots today in four states. Polls indicate that immigration is a top issue.
And, though, Republicans failed to pass any legislation, President Trump has stayed true to his hard-line rhetoric and policies on this issue. His
administration decided last week to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for prosecution, which will only separate more parents
from their children.
But in Ohio tonight, one Republicans thinks the future of his party is back in the political center. Governor John Kasich announced a program today to
help integrate and, yes, attract legal immigrants.
JOHN KASICH, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: We want them to bring their skills. We want them to bring their families. And we want them to bring their hearts
because they are such an important part of the energy here in the Buckeye state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, in 2016, Kasich was the last domino to fall to Trump's sweep of Republican primaries. And, again there, he made these comments about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just send 5 million people back with no effect on the economy?
DONALD TRUMP, THEN CANDIDATE: If you're going to have to bring people, you're going to have to send people out, but we have no choice if we're
going to run our country properly and if we're going to be a country.
KASICH: Can we comment on that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, go on. Quick comment.
KASICH: We need to control our border just like people have to control who goes in and out of their house. But if people think that we are going to
ship 11 million people who are law-abiding who are in this country and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out of Mexico - to
Mexico, think about the families, think about the children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Governor Kasich is joining me right now from the state capital Columbus. Welcome to the program, governor.
KASICH: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, here you are with this new initiative. What gives, sir? I mean, are you simply doubling down as the base remains very much in Donald
Trump's corner on all of this or do you sense something different abroad in your country right now?
KASICH: Christiane, well, I'm a person before I'm a politician. I'm a person before I'm a Republican or anything. And we have people that come
into our country. We, of course, want to know who they are.
But when they come here, we want them to be able to assimilate. And when you come to a country like America, and if your English is not great,
you're in a state of turmoil, we want to make sure that you can be comfortable, that you can be assimilated, that you can get work, that you
can support your family.
So, we're making it easier for people who come here to be in a position of where they can be successful.
Like, for example, we had a gentleman there who's Somali. He's been in here in Ohio for about 14 years. His kids are fully assimilating. They're
just here hanging out with their bodies in school and we just want to make it easier for people to be here, to be successful.
And, frankly, if you have people who are immigrants, come to Ohio. We think you are important. We think you bring us a lot of vitality and a lot
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you this because - I mean, you just said I'm a human being as well as - or before I'm a Republican, before I'm a governor,
I'm a human being.
So, I want to ask you, on this particularly polarizing issue, to comment on a really interesting study by "The New York Times" which really delved down
a few weeks ago into exactly who were Donald Trump voters.
And you know everybody has been trying to figure out, is it the economy, is it automation, is it jobs, what is it the forgotten heartland that people
say voted for Donald Trump.
[14:05:08] In fact, this study found that, in fact, what it was was that the voters were primary motivated by losing their status in society, that
they weren't primarily influenced by unemployment, density of manufacturing jobs or even a perception that their financial situation had worsened. How
do you react to that study, that investigation?
KASICH: Yes. I did read it. And it really raised the issue of nationalism or sort of like we need to preserve our culture as we've always
I think, Christiane, this has been historic. I mean, we have had so many groups that have come into America, who sort of isolated themselves at
times, and it took a while for them to assimilate.
The great news about America is we're pretty good on assimilation. The problem that you have in Europe is that Europe does not have a history of
assimilation. So, it makes it very difficult. If you can't assimilate, you have problems.
Now, for people who look at immigration, who find themselves in economic chaos for that matter, I think it's just - it's natural for people to look
around and say, well, what happened to me, why did it happen?
If you have somebody that says, well, the reason it happened to you is because somebody else took your stuff, then you'd claim to be a victim. I
don't think that's where people want to live. I don't believe that's where they ought to live. And while you might have an economic problem, we need
to work on solving it.
By the way, in our state, we have the lowest unemployment in 17 years, but here's what's interesting, Christiane. We have somewhere between 150,000
to 160,000 job openings in our state. Fifty percent of those openings pay more than $50,000. There's plenty to go around.
And so, we have to work on making the pie bigger, not fighting over the scraps that are left because that's what a dynamic economy can do for you.
AMANPOUR: So, how do you send that message to the rest of the country - well, the rest of your states and maybe in 2020 to the rest of the country
when you have the president and the base of the Republican Party thinking the way it does right now, and essentially demonizing immigrants and the
whole situation, bans and all the rest of it, because you have spoken about a vast middle in America that is not being tapped into, that is not being
KASICH: Christiane, this is - maybe sound a little odd, but I happen to believe, in the best sense, that our Creator has planted his virtues on our
hearts. And those virtues are things like treat your neighbor as you want your neighbor to treat you, love your neighbor as you want to be loved by
your neighbor, compassion, forgiveness, justice, all those kinds of things.
And I'm just trying to tap into something that I think is pretty intuitive to human beings, frankly, all of the world, not just in America, but all
over the world that they have to realize that other people who were made in the image of our Creator are to be respected and helped and cared for.
I can only do what I can do. I'm doing this. This is, I think, good action here in Ohio to make people's lives better, to give them more
certainty, and that's what I can do. And I can tell people about it.
So, I'm just one guy just trying to do my job with the team of people who feel pretty much the way that I do.
AMANPOUR: But you're a guy who is governor of a powerful state, particularly in American electoral politics. And you have come down quite
hard on the far right or rather the extremes of the left and right in the American political system.
How do you see it changing at all? How do you see the vast middle that you say are ready for something different?
KASICH: Right. well, I think there's two poles. There is - on the hard left and the hard right. And they're people that basically, at least at
this point, consume only things that they happen to agree with.
I don't think that's the vast majority of Americans. I think the vast majority of Americans operate in this ocean in between the poles. And so,
you have to appeal to them and try to build networks, as you can, people who think similarly.
And so, I'm not particularly interested whether somebody is a Republican, a Democrat, a liberal, conservative. I want them to be objective. I want
them to be searching for the truth in a post-truth environment. And I want them to be rational.
And once we have those people, we can mediate what immigration reform ought to look like and maybe, at some point, we can go back and grab those people
in the polls who are in these polar opposites.
But for now, I need to spend my time thinking about the ocean. And that's what I do.
AMANPOUR: Well, I want to know whether your rational plan involves a run in 2020 with your fellow governor in Colorado, Hickenlooper. And I ask you
because you guys have been trading some very funny tweets with GIFs and all the rest of it.
[14:10:09] For instance, you said, "I see my friend @HickForCO is headed to Iowa. They say no one goes there by accident."
And he replied, "Hey friend. That's rich! We were invited by the IA Republican Gov to talk apprenticeship renaissance & STEM @futurereadyiowa .
What are you up to in New Hampshire???"
OK. What gives, Gov. Kasich? What's going on here?
KASICH: Well, we're buddies and we're having some fun. And, Christiane, we've gotten to a point, not totally, but to some degree, that if people
want to be friends or if they want to do something that's unusual, like I'm trying to push now some - or I think some commonsense limits on guns,
people suspect, well, there must be something in it for him.
Every time somebody does something good or positive or works with people in the other party, there should be an assumption that somehow there's
something in it for them.
I like him very much. He is a great guy. I don't want to have a parliamentary system in America. We're starting to develop one.
In Great Britain, it's the conservatives and the liberals and you don't cross the aisle and all that. That's not been the history of America. And
I don't want it to move in that direction or to solidify in that direction that America has become a sort of a parliamentary system.
Our system works great. We just have to get politicians to realize they serve the country before they serve the party.
AMANPOUR: I think there are probably a lot of people who would agree with you because people do want to have more connections across the aisle.
But look at these polls, for instance. The latest, President Trump's job approval, Republicans and Democrats. Republican voters, 86 approve;
Democrat voters, 9 approve. Republican voters, 9 disapprove; Democrat voters, 87 disapprove. So, it's incredibly polarized still.
But can I ask you a couple of economic and a couple of foreign policy questions. What do you make of President Trump's own Commerce Department
putting sanctions on this Chinese company, ZTE, for doing business with North Korea and Iran. And then, the president wanting that to be revisited
not to help American jobs, but to help Chinese jobs. What do you think is going on there?
KASICH: Yes. I've been kind of following the bouncing ball here. I'm not quite sure where we're going to come out on that, but here's what I will
I think that the United States made a major mistake in not being part of the Pacific trade agreement. I believe that open trade serves us all
Now, there isn't any question that the Chinese have stolen our secrets. There isn't any question that they have played unfair trade games and we
need to hold them accountable for that.
But I'm a fundamental believer that open trade and free trade can lead to more prosperity for people all over the world. So, I think withdrawing
from the Pacific trade agreement - and I understand the president said, well, maybe we ought to look at it again and then he said maybe we
shouldn't, you have to have some degree of consistency.
That doesn't mean that there aren't some exceptions to that rule. I'm following the bouncing ball on this just like you are.
AMANPOUR: And what about the somewhat bouncing ball on an international agreement enshrined at the United Nations to protect the world from Iran
nuclear weapons program.
How do you think pulling out or pulling America out of it, which may cripple the deal, serves America safety and the world safety?
KASICH: Well, I didn't agree with pulling out. I was the only candidate on the stage that - everybody were saying they were going to rip it up when
they're running. I said, we don't even know what they're going to do once we're all elected presumably or one of us would be elected.
I don't think this was a good decision. I think it further removes us from our European allies, who are critical, and it's sort of going it alone.
And I'm not sure what we got in return.
I guess what I would hope is that we would be able to have Iran stay in that agreement, delay any enrichment, delay any development. But, I guess,
we have to see what the European leaders tell their companies and what the United States does going forward in terms of secondary sanctions.
I just hope that doesn't happen because I think the longer it takes Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the better off we are.
And, frankly, I share the president's concern about ballistic missile development, about Iranian influence in a negative way in the world. I
think we would've been in a stronger position to negotiate something along those lines than the leverage we have now once we've withdrawn.
AMANPOUR: And just very quickly and very finally, we've been watching all sorts of elections around the country, special elections and others. We
just said there's primary ballots being cast in four states.
What do you predict will happen in the midterms? The Democrats seemed all fired up about potentially some kind of a sweep. What do you think?
[14:15:05] KASICH: Well, I think it depends. Christiane, I think, traditionally, the party out of power does well in the off year.
The problem is you can't tell me what Democrats stand for. I think they're trending - in order to be accepted, you have to trend farther and farther
left. That's why you see these polls out there that you referred to earlier.
I think it'll be a decent Democrat year, but if the Democrats don't have an agenda that paints a picture of hope and a picture of the future that's
better, I think their win will be muted.
We're just going to have to wait and see what they come up with. The farther they move to the left, the worst they'll do. If they have no
program, they won't do that well either.
And I think that's the situation. Everybody focuses on the dysfunction or whatever it is in the Republican Party. Don't forget there's another party
too. It takes two to tango.
AMANPOUR: And we will be watching with you. Governor John Kasich, thank you so much for joining us from Columbus.
And now, we move to the other side of the world, and that is North Korea where the United States is getting involved as well with this upcoming
summit between President Trump and President Kim Jong-un.
Now, Pyongyang says that it's going to shut down its main nuclear test site, but experts are warning a full and permanent closure will be very
hard to verify because verification is a challenge with just about anything in North Korea, especially the welfare of its own people.
Now, in order to see inside this highly secretive society for himself, the head of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, a former Republican
governor of South Carolina, traveled across the country accompanied by government minders.
He says he found a surprising sense of hope and opportunity as news of a possible opening to America begins to filter through.
Not surprisingly, he found malnutrition is rampant and agricultural methods are from a bygone area. He told me all about this from Seoul tonight.
Governor Beasley, welcome to the program. This is the first time you've been in North Korea as far as I know. What was it like?
DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: Well, very few people have been able to see what we've been able to see. And the World
Food Programme has a 23-year history there. So, there's a lot of trust with the World Food Programme.
But as I was very clear with the leadership that I needed the access necessary to really determine the realities that were on the ground. And
so, we spent two days, literally 10 to 12 hours, in a vehicle going from village to village, to the south, to the north, literally looking at
farmlands, looking at the lack of mechanization, the lack of electricity, but looking also at the spring time, how literally there were thousands of
men and women in the farms, in the fields with very little tractors with oxen and ploughs, hose, rakes, shovels, working the fields, working every
inch of land that was available to them, planting up to the edge of the road, down the embankments, trying to take advantage of every inch of land
AMANPOUR: Can you tell me how you judged their condition to be regarding nutrition? We've had many, many reports that date back into the 90s of
severe famines, and onwards, malnutrition and insufficient feeding.
BEASLEY: Well, the good news is, compared to the 90s when you had famines, there's not mass starvation today.
The bad news is there is chronic malnutrition. And while they're growing a good amount of food, they're not quite growing enough. And so, you're
having children that are stunted. You have families that are malnourished. You have chronic malnourishment.
You have a country that only has 15 to 20 percent of its land is arable. And you couple that with severe winters, droughts and flooding and lack of
rainfall, it creates a difficult situation for any country.
But I can tell you, these are some hardworking people. I went from kindergarten to schools, to nurseries, talking to the little children,
visiting them in the classrooms.
And here is what's very important. I asked our team, which has been given a great deal of improved access in the last year - our team has had over
1,800 site visits in the past 12 months and I asked them where I went on the two days that I was out in the countryside that it reflects the norm or
was this the best of the best.
And they said that where we went in the different villages, all across the country, reflected the average of DPRK. And that was good to hear because
the conditions were not as bad as I was expecting.
But at the same time, there's a lot of work to be done. And there's a lot of nutritional issues in this country.
AMANPOUR: One of the things, obviously, that we're all really interested to know is how this visit and what you found and the relationship with the
officials, et cetera, might set the tone or give us an indication of how they're feeling, the leadership, in the run up to this summit with
[14:20:15] What did you find? Are they aware of it, the officials who you talked to? What was their feelings and their sentiments about this and the
BEASLEY: Well, several things. I was very encouraged to see the optimism. There was an extraordinary amount of optimism and hope.
I really believe, in their hearts, they're looking for this to be a new chapter in DPRK history, in the Korean Peninsula history as well as world
history. They want to turn the page, I do believe, and move forward.
And we had some very, very frank conversations. I said if you want me to help you, then I need for you to help me. We need to have greater access.
We need to be able to understand the realities with greater surveys, so that we can make the analysis necessary to convince donors that these are
the needs and these are the programs and assure them that the intended food and dollars will go to the beneficiaries that would be expected to.
And so, those conversations were very practical, very frank, very clear. And the response we received was very positive. It was like it was a whole
new era of understating and transparency.
It's going to be a work-in-progress. It's not going to happen overnight. But I let them know that we are not here to embarrass anyone. We're not
here to hurt anyone. We're doing here, with the request, what we would in any country around the world.
AMANPOUR: And yet, it's not any country around the world. It's North Korea. And there are only a few major donors who support the North Korea
program. And I think you have a hard time in general trying to convince nations to pony up for North Korea, which has a dictatorship that has
treated its people badly and that has the sanctions and the nuclear tests and all the reasons why it's hard to get the West engaged.
Do you think that you can unblock this? You, obviously, need funding. You've got a shortfall, a massive shortfall.
BEASLEY: Massive shortfall! We've had to cut back severely for the programs that we have on the ground in DPRK with regards to children.
In fact, the kindergartens, we no longer have any food in support of kindergartens. We're now down to nurseries, children from age zero to
three. In those, the first 1,000 days, as you know, are very critical for any child's development, whether it's physical or mental.
And, of course, we're trying to help pregnant women as well. And so, the funding is needed to address this chronic malnutrition that exists across
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you. You're a former Republican governor. We have a Republican administration that's about to engage on a completely
different issue - nuclear, intercontinental ballistic missiles, et cetera.
And we understand from the experts that, first of all, there are not enough IAEA inspectors. There is a whole country full of nuclear sites, secret
It's going to be a really heavy lift to try to get to inspect all of those things. And you are not sure whether you got to inspect all the places
which may have been in desperate need there. I presume you've got to see what they wanted you to see despite the geography.
Talk a little bit about that, having to take on faith, some of these incredibly serious verification issues?
BEASLEY: Well, there is going to be a lot of work to be done. And I'll leave the denuclearization issues to the experts as to what must be done,
the assessments and the monitoring there, because that's a lot of work.
And I just know as to - with regards to the humanitarian side, we also need further and greater access. But as I was saying just a little while ago,
the access that we're already getting compared to years ago is substantially better, but it's not where it needs to be.
But I do believe we're on the right path. We are in the right direction. I don't want to throw cold water on the progress that we've been making,
but we must be persistent, while we also must be shrewd and very clear.
We must make it make it known why we need what we need and why we need to have complete access across the country.
And I believe we're on the road to getting there. And so, I'm hoping with regard to other issues that these issues will be addressed and addressed
AMANPOUR: Did the officials you were talking to who were in the humanitarian field mostly, I suppose, did they have a sense of optimism
about the nuclear talks, about the summit? Did they feel that any minute now the sanctions were going to be lifted, that their country was going to
I think people think the United States is going to heavily invest, help to rebuild their country. Give me a sense of what they said to you on that
[14:25:00] BEASLEY: Well, we had a very frank discussion in all aspects. And we talked about sanctions and denuclearization.
And I'm not part of that negotiating team. I was just being very clear that once these issues were resolved, you'll definitely open up the doors
of greater opportunity for us to address the humanitarian needs.
But in the meantime, because we receive funds on a voluntary basis from countries all over the world, and so until that time takes place, we need
to do the assessments, the evaluations to be able to put together the plan, so that donors will be prepared to fund it when they are (INAUDIBLE).
And I am hopeful that denuclearization takes place and I am hopeful that other issues will be resolved. But I do believe, with the leaders that I
met with at all levels in different ministries within the government of DPRK, they are excited about the possibilities and the opportunities.
AMANPOUR: There's, obviously, a massive difference between the opportunities, the look, the economy, the availability in South Korea
compared to the North.
There's a famous satellite picture that at night shows a blacked out North and a sparkly South when it comes to electric lighting.
Just sum up the sort of disconnect as you go from one side of the border to the other.
BEASLEY: Well, that's a whole different world. But at the same time, children are children, little brothers, little sisters and cousins and
families and friends in this peninsula. I think there's going to be great opportunities.
But the children in DPRK are malnourished. They're undernourished. They need more micronutrients. They need more vitamins. They need healthier
food. They need a better balanced diet.
It is making a difference. And I believe that if we can get some of these major political issues behind us, I believe that the future is so bright
for the children of DPRK, just like the children of their neighbors to the South had to this day.
And, hopefully, they'll all be playing together soon.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's an optimistic - American optimism right there on the Korean Peninsula. Governor Beasley, executive director of the World
Food Programme, thanks for joining us.
BEASLEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And just a reminder, as Governor Beasley said, that there is a shortfall for some nearly 200,000 kindergartners in North Korea when it
comes to food.
That's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.