SIOUX CITY | Republican presidential candidate John Kasich in Sioux City on Saturday said the U.S. must react strongly to troublesome nations and terror groups, while aiming to avoid taking unilateral action when possible.
Kasich said it can be more effective to work in concert with other nations to address hot spots. He said it is best to take a long view, "to be reasoned and calm," in addressing international threats.
"It is always better to go as a group," said Kasich, a two-term governor from Ohio, who was re-elected with a 64 percent vote total in 2014.
In his first Sioux City stop in the presidential election cycle, Kasich spoke to 125 people at Morningside College. It was an auditorium venue in which other Republican candidates such as Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz filled the auditorium with 200 or more people.
The hour-long Saturday event was hosted by the nonpartisan Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security group.
Kasich said the U.S. must stand with Israel, a longtime ally in the Mideast. He said the U.S. needs to put soldiers on the ground overseas to fight the Islamic State, or ISIS, a terror group working in Iraq. The Iraqi foreign minister on Friday asked for more airstrikes against ISIS.
"ISIS presents a threat to all the values of western civilization. This is such a horrific group ... They want to destroy the very fabric of our cultures," Kasich said.
He said ISIS leaders tell followers that raping teen girls can get them closer to salvation. He said that is entirely opposite from the positive messages delivered by Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis in a series of U.S. appearances on Thursday thru Saturday.
Kasich said the pope's message of hope was that people should serve others besides themselves, "that the path to salvation is based on love."
Kasich received 2 percent in the most recent summary by Public Policy Polling in Iowa, a poll that Donald Trump led with 24 percent. Kasich didn't directly reference other presidential candidates.
He said the hardened political climate with intransigent Republican and Democratic lawmakers has meant that key issues on health care and immigration reform have languished without resolution.
"Things have moved more radical or more polarizing within the parties," Kasich said, while adding that he as governor has seen the benefit of working with both parties.
Marcia Van Roekel, of Spirit Lake, Iowa, said she liked that Kasich values compromise to get things done. She said she's seen that the hard-line Republican stances particularly since the rise of the tea party in 2009 have meant issues don't get solved.
That's why Van Roekel said Kasich, a relative moderate compared to other candidates, is her candidate of choice.
Holding her hands far apart, Van Roekel said, "People are here and here. Why can't we meet in the middle so things get done? I do not have a litmus test."
Don Schenk, of Sioux City, said he has Kasich in his top tier of Republican candidates, along with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Schenk said Kasich showed he was informed about national issues and had a personable way of speaking.
Kasich worked the crowd with an informal air. He often turned the questions back on the people and asked about their lives, in a way other candidates typically do not. He began the event by asking a question about a Friday city event: "Did any of you see the Bryan Adams concert?"