Gov. John Kasich has ended the tour promoting his new book, but he’s not done talking about the campaign or the issues that concern him – including the actions of President Trump and some of his fellow Republicans in Congress.
Around 400 people packed the room to hear whatever Kasich had to say – and it was a lot. Much of it was familiar….such as how his wife has called him “the father of Ohio” and told him to “act like it”. But some of what he said was new. He was asked about the divide he sees in the country, and he suggested he blames armchair political pundits. “We become vehement and we know the way to run the world. Now, people gave up bowling and took up politics. My suggestion to the country is go back to bowling and forget the politics and turn off the cable television, ok?”
But at one point he also suggested each day, everyone absorb 10 minutes of a perspective with which they disagree. And Kasich called again for an end to gerrymandering with a change in the way Congressional districts are drawn.
Kasich’s book is a memoir of the presidential campaign he suspended just over a year ago. So he was asked why he stayed in the race till it was just him and Trump. Kasich said he’d done well in New Hampshire, and then struggled in the south, but felt as if he were gaining traction as he swung back north and as other Republicans dropped out. “In Ohio, people forget – I won Ohio by I don’t know, 13, 14 points. Something like that. It was a blowout win. And then I went to the east. I don’t know if you know this, but I am the president of Manhattan. I won Manhattan. Might even have won Trump Tower for all I know,” Kasich said. So I mean I finished second in all those states. Now what I thought was we would get to a brokered convention.” (By the way, he actually won Ohio by a little over 11 points, and finished with a total delegate count behind Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.)
Kasich was also asked a question a lot of committed Republicans have – why he didn’t endorse Trump as the party’s nominee and attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Kasich had an answer. “People thought I was angry and bitter. I’ve never been more happy – I’ve never been so damn busy and more in demand than I am right now. But I didn’t do that because I was mad at him,” Kasich said. “I wasn’t going to go to a party where I was going to go and be in a terrible mood, where I couldn’t say anything good and where I wasn’t going to contradict myself.”
Now, Kasich said, he’s rooting for Trump as the president, and said he had a good White House meeting in February where he talked with Trump about health care and other issues. But he also said Trump has to, in Kasich’s words, do better and be more unifying. He also said the people around Trump should be explaining the gravity of the information he’s revealing to Russian officials, and said the firing of FBI director James Comey wasn’t good timing.
Kasich talks a lot about the town halls he did during his presidential campaign, and clearly wanted to try that approach for the last few minutes of this event – breaking away from the format of written down and screened questions that moderator Carol Luper was trying to follow, and asking the audience if anyone wanted to shout out a question. Just to Kasich’s left, a woman stood up to say she was terrified about the future of health care, saying, “I struggle with mental illness.” Kasich approached her to listen and hug her, and then dispatched his team to find her the assistance she was seeking.
The moment allowed Kasich to go back to one of his favorite themes – helping those he calls people in the shadows, but this time he added in criticism of the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act that recently passed the US House. “This is very, very concerning to me. I can’t do any more. I’ve talked about this on every show in the country, over and over and over again,” Kasich said. “And I’m just hoping that the Senate is going to change this thing, because we can’t have this young lady out there with no hope.”
And then Kasich left without taking questions from reporters, but pausing to sign the woman’s book and pose for a photo with her.