With Balderson finding himself at the center between an ongoing feud between Kasich and Trump on the eve of Tuesday's special election in Central Ohio, Balderson said in a statement he "welcomed" the president to the Saturday rally where "he highlighted his support for" Trump and his agenda.
Kasich ignited a political firestorm when he said Sunday on "ABC's This Week" that when he asked Balderson last week why he asked Trump to campaign for him, Balderson replied, "No I didn't."
“I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go,” Kasich said. “I think they think they are firing up the base.”
Kasich warned that Trump’s appearance in Delaware County may damage Balderson because “the chaos that seems to surround Donald Trump has unnerved a lot of people.”
“Suburban women in particular here are the ones that are really turned off,” Kasich said, adding “it’s really kind of shocking because this should be just a slam dunk and it’s not.”
Balderson, a state senator from Zanesville, faces Democrat Danny O’Connor, who is the Franklin County recorder, in the special election to fill the seat left vacant since January when Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, retired. The same two candidates will face each other in November for the full two-year term.
Although the Republicans have held the seat since 1983, Balderson is locked in a tight race as he tries to gain the support of moderate Republicans in the wealthy suburbs north of Columbus while simultaneously retaining the support of more conservative Republicans in the eastern areas of the district.
Kasich endorsed Balderson in a TV commercial last week. But he may have undercut that message Sunday by suggesting Balderson did not ask for Trump to campaign for him.
The governor said while Trump was speaking Saturday, Kasich was meeting “with some Republican women” who said they were “not voting for the Republicans” in large part because of their dislike of Trump.
Kasich called O’Connor a “weak candidate” who lacks a compelling message, saying “it’s likely in the end that Balderson should … be able to win narrowly. But it really doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party because this … shouldn’t even be contested.”
Kasich, who remains popular in the district he represented from 1983 through the end of 2000, is considering a bid for the presidency in 2020, perhaps as an independent. Kasich has criticized Trump’s abrasive style and tariffs he has imposed on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and the European Union.
“Now here’s the thing about tariffs,” Kasich said. “What they do is they hurt consumers. They hurt businesses in this country. And you can see how people have been reacting to this who are business people that want to get their markets overseas. For farmers, farmers don’t want welfare, they want trade. They want to be able to sell their stuff.”