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Kasich on Brussels attacks: ‘I think we have been too lax’

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in Minneapolis on Tuesday to raise money for his presidential campaign, used the terrorist attacks in Brussels to take swipes at both President Barack Obama and his Republican rivals.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in Minneapolis on Tuesday to raise money for his presidential campaign, used the terrorist attacks in Brussels to take swipes at both President Barack Obama and his Republican rivals.

“We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with radical Islam,” Kasich said in advance of a fundraiser at the Minneapolis Club. “In our country, we don’t want to create divisions. … Just because you happen to be a Muslim doesn’t mean that you are a radicalized person who wants to destroy somebody in the West.”

Both Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been criticized as going after all Muslims, without specifically focusing on terrorists such as those who are believed to have carried out the attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people.

Kasich, who is far behind Cruz and Trump in polls and in delegate counts, also urged Obama to take greater action to cope with the attacks.

“This is a time for real leadership. … If I were in Cuba right now, the last thing I would be doing is going to a baseball game,” the Ohio governor said. He urged Obama to return to the United States and assembled a coalition to fight the Islamic State, saying that the formation of that coalition has been too long delayed.

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“I think we have been too lax, not aggressive enough against this kind of radicalism,” he said.

Obama said he attended the baseball game in Cuba to counter the terrorist goal of disrupting people’s lives.

Although Kasich did not visit Minnesota for any public events before the state voted in its March 1 caucuses, he stopped in the state Tuesday to raise money and hold a hastily assembled news conference.

“There’s money to be raised here. Why do you think I came here?” Kasich said in response to a question about his visit. As of last report, Kasich had only raised $53,000 in Minnesota.

Republicans with a long history in the party, including a former state commissioner, party chair and former lawmakers, gathered in Minneapolis to support Kasich.

“John has been one, in my opinion, that should have received more attention and acknowledgment through the party and the public and we’re hoping to see if he can continue on,” said former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Of all the candidates we have, he is the most presidential.”

Although the Ohio governor won little support in the state’s caucuses - former candidate Marco Rubio won those - his campaign may see an opening now that the Florida senator has suspended his campaign.

“The field isn’t that big now, it’s down to three. They really say, Who can win in the fall? And who has both the domestic and the foreign policy experience to run the country?” he said.

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“More than ever here with what we saw today in Brussels, this is not a job, a position for somebody who needs to get on-the-job training. These are very serious matters.”

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