John Kasich says it’s ‘still unlikely’ he’ll support Donald Trump

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Four months after dropping out of the running for President, Ohio Gov. John Kasich wound up giving reporters a briefing at the White House today. How did it happen? Jim Otte has the answer.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Decision puts him at odds with both Clinton and Obama.

Not long ago, it may have seemed unimaginable that Ohio Gov. John Kasich would take the podium at the White House to defend one of President Barack Obama’s key priorities.

But then, Kasich’s never been one to shy away from poking his finger in the eye of conventional wisdom, sometimes pugnaciously and often gleefully.

So there the Republican was Friday, feet planted in front of the podium in the White House briefing room, defending a trade deal that he and Obama both argue will help the U.S. economy and create key trading alliances with 11 other Pacific Rim countries.

“We cannot get to the point in America that because a Democrat wants something that I happen to agree with, that I can’t agree with it,” Kasich told reporters during the daily White House briefing. “How does anybody think that the issues of debt, Social Security, Medicare, health care — any of these things are going to be resolved when we spend all of our time fighting with one another?”

But Kasich’s position puts him not only at odds with both presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but also Sen. Rob Portman, a former U.S. trade ambassador running for re-election in his state. All oppose the deal. Kasich has campaigned for Portman but has become a frequent critic of Trump, telling CNN political correspondent Dana Bash Thursday it’s “still very unlikely” he’ll support Trump in November.

Kasich was not only prepared to defend the deal, he was prepared to campaign for it, sitting with Obama and a bipartisan group as well as writing a stern defense of the trade deal in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

“I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party,” Kasich told Bash. “It’s time we start doing this in this country.”

He told Bash that he and Obama “have a lot of disagreements, but there are areas where we can agree.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich listens as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with business, government and national security leaders to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other issues, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sept. 16, 2016. From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. (Al Drago/The New York Times)
Caption
Ohio Gov. John Kasich listens as President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with business, government and national security leaders to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other issues, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sept. 16, 2016. From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

At the White House, he went further, arguing that “there are people in both the House and the Senate who would play pure politics with our future to take care of themselves.” He said those who do that will leave Washington knowing they did nothing but obstruct.

“I don’t recognize this town much any more because now it’s become so much about politics,” he said. “And when politics is the order of the day and politics trumps country, we drift. We drift as a nation. And I’m extremely concerned about what I see.”

Kasich was part of a bipartisan group that included former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat; former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent; IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat; and retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO Supreme Allied commander.

Kasich, who some analysts speculate is already setting up a 2020 presidential bid, isn’t likely to influence voters with his stance, primarily because most of the candidates in high profile races in Ohio this year have said they are against the deal.

The stance may also put him at odds with some of the blue-collar workers that both Trump and Clinton are heavily courting, said John Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

“This is not a new issue in Ohio,” Green said. “But we’re at a moment where people who are skeptical of trade are strongly skeptical, and that may very well influence their votes. And people supportive of trade are somewhat less vocal these days.”

Kasich said Ohio would benefit greatly from the trade agreement’s passage. A half million people in the state have jobs connected to trade, he said, and consumers benefit from lower prices.

“America can’t afford to lock its doors, lower the blinds and ignore the rest of the world,” he said. “We’re a force for good.”

Kasich also said the agreement was important to build strategic alliances with countries that could opt to ally with Russia and China instead.

“We don’t want to turn our back on Asia and put them in a situation where Russia and China win and we lose,” he said. ”That is completely unacceptable.”