- Associated Press - Friday, May 15, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Republican John Kasich, who is pondering a 2016 presidential run, said Friday he’s a man of faith who is reading a book on prayer but doesn’t plan to dwell on social issues in a potential White House campaign.

Speaking at a forum in downtown Los Angeles, the Ohio governor and former congressman reflected on the intersection of politics and religion after being asked a question by a woman who said she admired his economic ideas but was uncomfortable with the influence of social conservatives on the Republican Party.

Kasich responded that “faith has always been an underpinning of our country,” but he planned to stress the need for economic growth and values shared widely by Americans, such as personal responsibility, teamwork and the importance of family.

“These social issues, they are going to ask about them. I’ll have a response to them. But I’m not going to spend my time dwelling on them,” Kasich said at Town Hall Los Angeles, a speaker’s group.

Kasich opposes abortion and supports Ohio’s ban on gay marriage. Since 2011, when Ohio Republicans reclaimed both chambers of the Legislature and Kasich succeeded a Democrat, laws have passed banning all abortions after a fetus is deemed viable outside the womb and requiring women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat before an abortion.

Kasich said there were values that appealed broadly in the country that would be central to his agenda.

“I don’t know anybody on the right, the left, the up or the down that doesn’t think that we need a real good dose of personal responsibility back in our society, and not just among those that have little but also among all of us,” he said.

He also listed the need to reduce teen pregnancies - “too many kids having kids, and that doesn’t work and that unites us,” he said.

Before taking questions from the audience, Kasich spoke about the dangers of political polarization in Washington, the need for job growth, the ravages of poverty and the encroachment of Washington into state affairs.

Asked about the emerging 2016 contest, he said he needed time to determine if he could raise the money needed to finance a campaign while testing his support in New Hampshire and other early voting states.

“I’m not going to go around with a tin cup,” he said. “If I have the money, it’s most likely I will move forward.”

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