HOOKSETT, N.H. (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Wednesday tensions with North Korea have been brewing for multiple presidencies and cannot be blamed solely on President Barack Obama.
Kasich's remarks, made during a town hall in New Hampshire, come in response to North Korea's claims that it tested a hydrogen bomb. His comments mark a departure from many of his fellow GOP presidential candidates, who are responding to the claims by hitting Obama for not taking strong enough action against North Korea. Kasich said Obama has had a "horrible" foreign policy, but said multiple administrations have failed to appropriately deal with North Korea.
"Here's the situation, this problem has been brewing for multiple presidencies, and we have been kicking the can down the road," Kasich said.
Kasich is advocating for more collaboration with China to halt North Korea's nuclear efforts, but admitted there's no easy answer on North Korea.
"Anybody that says they have a great answer on North Korea, I'm all ears," he told reporters. "I mean, just bellicose language is not going to get it done."
Kasich noted that while China isn't always a reliable ally, they can't be an enemy when it comes to stopping North Korea. He said the Chinese have some of the "greatest leverage over this crazy guy in North Korea," referring to the nation's leader, Kim Jong Un. He's also calling for stronger ballistic missile defense programs in Asia.
Beyond North Korea enhancing its own nuclear capabilities, Kasich said it's worrisome to think of nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-state actors, such as the Islamic State.
A successful hydrogen bomb test would be a major leap forward in North Korea's nuclear capabilities. But the White House said Wednesday that an early analysis by the U.S. government was "not consistent with the claims that the regime has made of a successful hydrogen bomb test."