It was only a few weeks ago when outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich said he was seriously considering a 2020 primary challenge to President Trump, if only to “send a message.” (Who that message was intended for remains unclear.) But hey… the guy is going to be unemployed come January so he needs something to keep himself busy.

But now, with Christmas fast approaching, something seems to have changed. During an interview with the Associated Press, Kasich was striking a decidedly different tone. Clearly, if you’re going to mount a primary challenge, you need to believe that you at least have a chance of winning. But the Governor came out and flatly stated that he probably can’t beat Trump. (The Hill)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) says he’s seriously considering a presidential run against President Trump, but admitted Thursday that he probably could not win a Republican primary today.

“If you’re going to run as a Republican you have to have a sense that if you get into primaries you can win. Right now, probably couldn’t win,” he told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview. “But that’s today. It’s ever changing.”

He says he is still weighing his options for 2020 and is having his advisors monitor the headlines surrounding the White House, including Trump’s legal entanglements and talks of impeachment.

“It’s not like I wouldn’t do it,” he told the AP. “You can’t be afraid to do it.”

This interview is all over the place and makes me wonder if Kasich is firing on all cylinders these days. Just look at a few of the quotes which are strung together in a short period of time.

“probably couldn’t win”

“You can’t be afraid to do it”

“you have to have a sense that if you get into primaries you can win.”

Kasich is having his staff “monitor the headlines” but there are probably a couple of other factors they should be monitoring. As of last week’s Gallup poll, the President has an 89% approval rating among Republicans. Sure, his overall approval rating is still hovering in the low forties, but those Republicans are the only ones voting in the primary. It’s not even clear if Kasich could carry his own state in a primary because Trump is still above water in Ohio among all voters and very strong among the GOP primary voters.

The last time we had a primary challenge such as the one Kasich is considering was when Pat Buchanan took a run at George H.W. Bush in 92. Bush wasn’t in any legal trouble, but he’d broken his “read my lips” pledge and his numbers were tanking. Even for all that, Buchanan never did better than the 37% he mustered in New Hampshire. He didn’t carry a single state and was in the low teens in most of them.

Keep an eye on history and one foot in reality, Governor. You can always try again in 2024.