By Jessica Wehrman
Ohio Gov. John Kasich's wish to spend more time in the Oval Office will be granted Friday. But this time, he'll go to support an embattled trade pact that President Barack Obama wants passed.
Kasich -- who liked to joke during his 2016 GOP presidential run that he got his peak amount of time in the Oval Office when he was a young Ohio State University student visiting then-President Richard Nixon -- will meet with Obama Friday morning.
He'll go to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an embattled trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries that Obama has struggled to win approval for. Obama has made passing the trade deal one of his key priorities in the months he has left in office, but he has met with a wall of congressional opposition that includes Democrats and Republicans.
In appearing at the White House, Kasich, a Republican, is demonstrating how the agreement is one of the few that breaks party lines in both support and opposition. Both presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose the agreement, saying they're concerned about its impact on U.S. workers. Sen. Rob Portman, a former U.S. Trade Ambassador, has also said he cannot support the agreement in its current form. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also opposes the deal.
But Kasich during his presidential run endorsed the agreement, saying in one GOP debate that it would help the U.S. economically as well as allow the U.S. to create "strategic alliances."
Kasich will join a bipartisan group that includes former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat; former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent; IBM President and CEO Virginia Rometty; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat; and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis (Ret).
A White House official said the meeting's attendees "represent decades of leadership and a wide breadth expertise as well as a bipartisan range of political views."
The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said the conversation would focus on how "trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are critical to ensuring that American workers can compete -- and win -- in a global, interconnected economy and furthering America's strategic and security interests abroad."
"Properly enforcing the rules of free trade and extending them to more and more markets only gives American workers and companies new opportunities to grow and thrive, and I urge Congress to act now to throw open these doors to job creation," Kasich said in a release announcing the visit.
Kasich, who flew in Thursday night, will also grant a handful of interviews for cable TV and Sunday shows while he is in D.C.
(c)2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)