Columbus -- Republican Gov. John Kasich urged congressional leaders Sept. 16 to move the much-debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade deal being pursued by Democratic President Barack Obama but opposed by groups and members of both parties.
In a closed-door meeting with Obama and other invited officials, and later during a press briefing at the White House, Kasich said TPP opponents, including China and Russia, represented repression and a lack of human rights and democracy.
"America can't afford to lock the doors and lower the blinds and ignore the rest of the world," the governor told reporters in comments that were broadcast live. "We're a force for good."
He added, concerning congressional leaders, "They can cast a vote that can strengthen our country and our alliances around the world. To me that's what at stake."
Kasich's support of TPP isn't new -- he vocalized his position during his failed presidential campaign. But there's been widespread criticism of the deal, with union groups, environmentalists and others opposing.
Neither Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are supportive. Republican congressional leaders aren't backing it either, and the deal isn't anywhere near a fast track for ratification.
In broadcast comments Sept. 16, Obama said TPP is needed to ensure fair markets for U.S. products in Asia.
"If you're frustrated about rules of trade that disadvantage America, if you're frustrated about jobs being shipped overseas and other countries selling goods into our country freely when we can't sell our stuff in other countries freely, then you want to get this thing passed, you want to get this thing don," the president said, adding, "If we get this done, advantage America. And if we don't, then we're going to be disadvantaged for a long time to come."
Kasich called TPP "a unique opportunity to put country ahead of politics," regardless of political affiliation.
"We cannot get to the point in America that because a Democrat wants something that you happen to agree with, you can't agree with him," he said. "There's plenty of things that I disagree with President Obama on, but the idea that I'm a Republican and therefore I can't work with Democrats, or you're a Democrat and you can't work with Republicans -- how does anybody think that the issues of debt, Social Security, Medicare, health care, any of these issues are going to be resolved when we spend all of our time fighting with one another."
He added, "When politics is the order of the day and partisanship trumps country, we drift This is a moment for people to begin to reverse that, to think deep inside of themselves about what matters when it comes to public service."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.