By Jack Torry
Declaring that he might not "be able to support" the Republican Party "if the party can't be fixed," Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped the broadest hint yet he might run as an independent candidate in the future.
During an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Kasich declined to say whether he would run for president in 2020 as an independent. But he made clear that Americans are searching for an independent candidate because of the turmoil engulfing both Republicans and Democrats.
"If the party can't be fixed, then I am not going to be able to support the party -- period," Kasich said. "That's the end of it. I am worried about our country and my kids' future."
"There is a struggle for the soul of the Republican Party and the soul of the Democratic Party," Kasich said. "We spend a lot of time talking about all the trouble in the Republican Party. I have no idea what the Democrats are for . . . which is why polls are now beginning to show a support for independent candidacies more than ever in our history."
"If the Republican Party is going to be anti-immigration, if it's not going to be worried about debt, if it's going to be anti-trade, this is not where our party can be," Kasich said.
Although Kasich insisted he wants the Republican Party "to be straightened out," many political analysts believe he would have a difficult time winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2020. And with his opposition to abortion rights, he would have little future as a Democrat.
Kasich ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, but declined to endorse the eventual GOP nominee -- President Donald Trump. He emerged as a sharp critic of the unsuccessful congressional Republican effort to scrap the 2010 health law known as Obamacare and replace it with a more market oriented system.
In addition, on the eve of his appearance on CNN, a Kasich super political action committee dispatched a fund-raising appeal to "help us continue fighting for the common-sense and bipartisan solutions to America's greatest challenges."
Aiming his criticism at both Democrats and Republicans, Kasich said on CNN "these parties have got to get their act together and they've got to be focused on giving people who are middle and lower-income folks a real chance at prosperity."
"Prosperity cannot just affect the wealthy, the top," Kasich said. "It's got to be able to reach all the way to the middle class and lower class. And it just seems as though the parties don't understand it or they don't have a plan for it."
As governor since 2011, Kasich has produced a mixed record on middle-and lower -income people in the state.
Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning non-profit organization, reported in 2015 that because of a Kasich-sponsored tax cut, families earning $388,000 a year or more in Ohio reaped annual tax savings of about $17,618 annually while middle-income taxpayers received only a token tax reduction.
Kasich, however, did take advantage of billions of new federal dollars made available through Obamacare to extend Medicaid health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people who had been without insurance. By doing so, Kasich broke with Republicans in Ohio and across the country.
(c)2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)