Ohio Gov. John Kasich criticized materialistic views that money and cars bring fulfillment, while also saying Thursday that he did not see anything wrong with wealth.
"But if it becomes your idol, or your false god, or if you think you'll find happiness through the accumulation of wealth — it isn't going to work for you," said Kasich, a former congressman and former Lehman Brothers managing director.
The first-term governor, a Republican, made the comments in wide-ranging remarks at the Ohio Newspaper Association's convention in Columbus.
Kasich's views on materialism initially came in response to a question about the Tea Party, a group that he's taken heat from in his support for an expansion of the Medicaid health program. Activists had spent time recruiting candidates to run against him, though they fell through.
"Look, I'm concerned about many of the things that they're concerned about," he said, noting his support for passing a federal balanced budget amendment.
The governor then described the faith that guides him, including the issues of personal responsibility and his opposition to materialistic excess. He said life is about more than just oneself, such as mentoring and reaching out to people he described as living in the shadows.
"So to me, you know the notion that government is not going to give us the satisfaction that we would all like to see in our society and culture today, is something that not only resonates with me but something I speak about," he said.
Almost a year ago, Kasich used his faith to appeal to Republican state lawmakers for their support in extending taxpayer-funded Medicaid coverage to thousands of more low-income residents. His push to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law riled tea party activists and conservatives in his party, with some claiming he was moderating his views.
Kasich, who is up for re-election in November, said he doesn't look at Republicans and check if they are wearing a Tea Party shirt. "They're just part of our party," he said, though he added that he didn't think they were only part of the GOP.
On other issues, Kasich stressed the need to further cut state income taxes. He said he also wanted to give educators more flexibility to keep students from falling behind and dropping out of high school. He plans to address the topic in his State of the State address Feb. 24 and state budget review.
Kasich said teachers feel overburdened by the way testing is done, while districts feel there are too many certifications and rules.
"I would like to figure out a way to keep people from having to jump through all these legal hoops out there in our local schools," Kasich said.
He said he's talked to the state superintendent about "the need to bring about some deregulation."
The governor, who has written three books, also told the newspaper group that he is working on a new one. Kasich, a former Fox News commentator, also said he would like to return to the media some day.
"Eighty is the new 60, so you know, we'll see" he said.