Governor John Kasich (R-OH) sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday for his first in-depth interview following his withdrawal from the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Cooper stated that John Kasich’s name has been coming up in the news “a lot” for the past few days, and asked him if there is any truth to the rumor that Republican or conservative power players have been nudging Kasich toward a third party run behind the scenes.
John Kasich admitted that he took at least one phone call from someone who tried to persuade him to mount a third party run in the 2016 general election but declined to say who placed this phone call. He said that he is not planning to run third party, but seemed to use hedging language in order to leave that door open.
“We’re not a ‘third party’ kind of a country […] my basic deal was not to stop somebody else; it was to be about the ideas I had. So, I’m — I’m not kind of an ‘again-er,’ you know. [Or] I’m ‘against’ somebody. Although, you know, if things get really — in a bad situation, I could be. But I’m not there yet.”
John Kasich went on to say that he thought it was “completely inappropriate” that Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, endorsed the front-runner, New York City businessman Donald Trump, after Trump won the Indiana primary on May 3 despite the fact that Kasich was still in the race. The other candidate who competed in Indiana on the Republican side was Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who dropped out that night.
“[Reince Priebus] just wanted to get this thing over. I’m not happy about it. But anyway, neither here nor there; we learn to forgive and forget.”
John Kasich explained to Anderson Cooper that he and his campaign had planned to stay in the race for another four or five days after losing the Indiana primary, to see if the departure of Ted Cruz would prompt any significant Republican or conservative donors to back him as the only alternative to Donald Trump. Kasich also said that he had an interview with the USA Today editorial board and two fundraisers scheduled, but he canceled at the last minute when he made the decision to drop out on May 4. This was partially due to the strong influence of Reince Priebus’s endorsement of Trump.
John Kasich claims that financially speaking, his campaign was doing very well and that he expected to raise “a good chunk of money” at his future fundraisers, but not enough to make the kind of difference that he felt they needed to make to beat Donald Trump. Bear in mind that all of this was long after it became mathematically impossible for John Kasich to earn the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the Republican nomination, with polls showing Donald Trump trouncing John Kasich in future primaries.
John Kasich was hoping that he and Ted Cruz together could stop Donald Trump from reaching 1,237, forcing a contested convention in Cleveland in July. Polls consistently showed very little chance for Kasich to win enough delegates to even come close to competing with Donald Trump throughout the entire race, and Republican leaders expressed anger toward Kasich for refusing to drop out. Despite this, he stressed to Anderson Cooper that it’s very important to him that the message of unity remain alive for Republicans.
John Kasich confirmed that he is still not interested in taking the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket and said that he’s “undecided” when it comes to supporting Donald Trump. He invoked his wife and twin daughters, age 16, when explaining why he can’t commit to endorsing Trump just yet. Kasich stated that his message is not compatible with Donald Trump’s message, and Trump would have to change course in order for him to feel comfortable declaring support for him and then looking his wife and daughters in the eye.
“At the end of the day, endorsing is going to mean a lot, and frankly, my wife and my daughters have watched this. And if I were to turn around today and endorse him, they’d be like, ‘Why, Dad?’ And that matters to me. We’ll see what he does. He has a chance to move to the positive side and unify this country.”
John Kasich’s wife, Karen Waldbillig Kasich, is an activist for women’s heart health and a former business executive. She has been a stay-at-home mother and a philanthropist since their twin daughters, Emma and Reese, were age two.
[Image courtesy of J.D. Pooley/Getty Images]