John Kasich in Awkward Position as GOP Convention Comes to his State

Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrives for a town hall meeting at the Hopkinton Town Hall in New Hampshire in November, campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. (Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrives for a town hall meeting at the Hopkinton Town Hall in New Hampshire in November, campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. (Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

Gov. John Kasich finds himself in a peculiar situation these days. He’s responsible for helping to safeguard a Republican convention he will not speak at, a nominee he will not support and an arena he probably will not step foot in.

“It is odd, isn’t it?” Kasich says. “It’s going to be strange.”

Even stranger: When Kasich arrives Sunday in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, he will be the one leading Hillary Clinton in a half-dozen battleground states — not presumptive nominee Donald Trump — according to a recent Ballotpedia poll. “I told somebody I should’ve quit earlier — I might have won!” he says, laughing, during a relaxed interview at the governor’s mansion in Columbus.

Things aren’t going so bad for a guy who dropped out of the presidential race in May, having won just one state — his own — and who some Republicans see as a bit too self-righteous and self-focused. Kasich left the race with a high favorable rating among voters and has come to symbolize the anti-Trump faction of the party. With the convention approaching, the media is clamoring at his door, and his team can see the 2020 presidential election clearly on the horizon.

Led by political consultant John Weaver, Kasich’s advisers are very aware that he is having a moment in the spotlight, and they are not wasting a minute. Soon, he’ll head to New York to pitch to publishers a book proposal about the 2016 campaign and his message of “Two Paths,” contrasting Trump’s doomsday talk with his positive approach. The plan is to roll out the book in town halls across the country. His political 501(c)(4) is also being retooled to allow him to campaign for Republicans other than Trump and to promote the issues and values that are important to him.

“I’m not shutting my political operation down,” the governor and former congressman says. “I’m not closing any doors. But my focus right now is going to be on the House, the Senate, and the down-ticket here in my state.”

As for next week in Cleveland, he will be quite conspicuous — zipping to events and doing ample media in his parallel political universe. As the state’s chief executive, he will receive high-level security briefings at the command center twice daily. On Tuesday, Kasich will throw his own high-profile party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his supporters.

But what you’ll never see is Kasich in the same picture frame with Donald Trump. In addition to publicly refusing to support Trump, Weaver says that Kasich rebuffed multiple overtures in May from Team Trump to join the ticket. “He was not interested,” says Weaver. A senior official with the Trump campaign on Sunday denied that any overtures were made to Kasich about being Trump’s running mate. “We made overtures to bring him on board and get him to keep his pledge” to support the nominee, said the official.

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SOURCE: Lois Romano 
The Washington Post