CONCORD -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich set himself apart on Tuesday from some of his fellow Republican presidential contenders, suggesting that he would not necessarily "rip up" the Iran nuclear deal on his first day in the White House.
When prompted with the suggestion that other Republicans running for president want to “rip up” the deal as soon as they take office, Kasich responded, “Well, what does that mean? I don’t know what that means. You’re going to rip it up and then what? Then what are you going to do when you rip it up?”
“To just say that we’re going to walk away – we’ve got to remember that we do have allies and we want to call on them to work with us and a lot of them are signing up to this," Kasich said. "But once we have the evidence that this has been violated, then we have the high moral ground to tell our allies, ‘we’ve got to get with the program here.'"
Kasich, who is regularly hesitant to say anything negative on the campaign trail about any of the other Republicans running for president, did not go after other candidates. “I’m not going to say much because I’ve got cameras here, and the minute I say something about the people in this race, it’s headlines. I’m not doing that. I’m just talking about for me,” he said.
Kasich made the remarks at the Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security National Security Forum, moderated by NH1’s Paul Steinhauser.
The Ohio governor regularly slams the Iran deal on the campaign trail, and he told the crowd on Tuesday “it’s a bad agreement. There are so many very poor parts of this thing.”
Kasich told NBC News after the event that if the deal is still intact when he takes office, his first priority would be to examine if or where it has been broken by Iran. “On Day One I would get my best people and begin to analyze what they are doing. I don’t want to presume to say that they have abided by everything. We want to make sure that we’re careful about this, including the side agreements, including whether they are funding these terrorist groups, and including whether they have any violations,” he said.
Kasich voiced concern during the forum that the current agreement could end in resources being sent to Hezbollah and Hamas. “If we begin to see resources being sent from Iran to these groups, then that can’t be tolerated," he said. "Secondly, they should have to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i.’ I don’t want to have a debate about whether or not they are violating the agreement.”
Around 100 people were in attendance at the forum, held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.
Kasich’s comments come amid another swing through New Hampshire – the first primary state and a pivotal region for his campaign. In the latest NBC News/Marist poll, Kasich came in second place in New Hampshire at 12 percent, behind Donald Trump at 28 percent. He is followed by Ben Carson at 11 percent, Jeb Bush at eight percent, Carly Fiorina at six percent, and Scott Walker at four percent.