Kasich Won't Commit to Endorsing Trump

by | May 17, 2016

By Darrel Rowland

Nearly two weeks after dropping out of the 2016 presidential race, John Kasich says he remains undecided whether he will back Donald Trump, and thus still has no interest in becoming the presumed GOP nominee's running mate.

"I don't like when he's attacking and putting people down," Kasich told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday night in his first public comments since suspending his campaign May 4.

"I've made it clear that I need to see a positive approach. And, you know, if there's one not forthcoming, you know, it's gonna be a real problem for me to endorse."

"At the end of the day, endorsing is gonna 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."

During the interview Monday morning at the Governor's Residence in Bexley, Kasich said he rejected overtures for him to mount a third-party bid, already has volunteered to campaign for GOP congressional and Senate candidates across the country and acknowledged that he will attend the Republican National Convention in two mont hs in Cleveland.

The latter declaration comes despite his unhappiness that GOP Chairman Reince Priebus essentially declared the race over after Trump won the Indiana primary two weeks ago.

The Dispatch reported last week that Priebus turned down a fervent request from the Kasich team to hold off a tweet saying Trump is going to be the party's presumptive nominee.

"I thought (that) was completely inappropriate," Kasich told Cooper.

"He just wanted to get (the) thing over. I'm not happy about it."

The Ohio governor said he wanted to see if he could finally get major campaign contributions once Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's departure left him the only GOP alternative to Trump.

"We were gonna stay in it for four or five days to see if people would really come with the biggest money," Kasich said. "Because we were never able to get big, big money in the campaign. We were outspent 50 to 1, yet I'm, like, the last guy standing, right, against Trump."

But Kasich also acknowledged that he didn't want to pretend he was in the campaign for the long haul when he could be dropping out in 48 or 72 hours.

Kasich and campaign staffers were in a private jet ready to leave the tarmac of Port Columbus for a pair of Washington gatherings with the press and a couple of fund-raisers when the decision was made to call it quits.

"And here's what I was really worried about: The message of unity, the message of healing. What I took to the campaign and stayed with consistently -- I did not want that message to be belittled."

Kasich said the inability of his campaign and super-PACs backing him to get significant money was the main hurdle to his campaign, not only for the obvious reasons but for getting credibility with the media, too.

"My big problem was I never got the big money. The big money stayed on the sidelines. I mean, I didn't have the money to get out there and deliver the message. And because I didn't have the big money, then the media didn't take it as seriously," he said.

"We just could never sorta get the establishment to come along, for some reason."

Even now that some in the establishment, reportedly including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, want Kasich to mount a third-party effort, he says he won't.

"I gave it my best where I am. And I just think running third party just doesn't feel right. I think it's not constructive," he said.

"A third party candidacy would be viewed as kind of a silly thing. And I don't think it's appropriate. You know, I just don't think it would be the right thing to do."

Unless Trump changes, the GOP will have a tough time in both Ohio and nationally, Kasich said.

"The demographics are a real problem for Republicans if they spend their time bashing Hispanics, turning off African Americans and not getting young people excited. I mean, how do you win?"

(c)2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)