More ABC US news | ABC World News

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) declined Sunday to say whether he would run to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

Following his March declaration that he isn’t interested in running, Kasich left the door open on ABC’s “This Week,” telling George Stephanopoulos that he would not get an answer out of Kasich on his presidential ambitions.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I want to see whether you're going to run for president because I know how tough you'd be,” Kasich joked to Stephanopoulos.

Instead, the Ohio governor said he is focused on priorities in his state, such as reducing infant mortality and a task force on racial tensions.

“We've got 1,000 things we're doing and a budget that's going to be comprehensive, that's my focus at this point in time,” he said.

Earlier in the interview, Kasich said the Republican Party should focus on backing policies that help people, and not just on economic growth.

“When I look at economic development, whether it's tax cuts or deregulation or whatever, economic growth is not an end unto itself,” he said.

“Economic growth is terrific, but it should lead to helping people who live in the shadows and that's exactly what we've done in Ohio.”

Kasich said Republicans nationally should focus on helping groups like the working poor, mentally ill and drug addicted, as he has done as governor.

When it comes to the presidency, Kasich’s troubles may come from within the party.

He has backed Common Core education standards, moved to expand Medicaid and is open to citizenship for illegal immigrants, all policies that go against the Republican platform.

But Kasich defended himself Sunday, saying policies that work toward inclusion and uniting people can help the GOP.

“When people don't think they're included, when people don't think they have a chance, it creates divisions,” he said. “Our country is strongest when people are united — simple — it's the bottom line.”

Kasich framed Medicaid expansion as a way to bring federal money meant for Ohio to the state.

“Because I know what they do with it in Washington, and I can use it to treat the mentally ill,” he said. “I can use it to help the drug addicted.”