Kasich: I may not endorse this year

Color John Kasich #TrumpSkeptical, too. The Ohio governor and erstwhile Republican presidential candidate tells Fox’s Bill Hemmer that it’s “hard to say” whether he’ll endorse Donald Trump this year, at the convention or anywhere else. Kasich doesn’t rule out the possibility, but sounds pretty doubtful that he’ll jump into the same waters as other members of Republican Party leadership (via Shoshana Weissmann):

The Ohio governor says he spoke with Trump, who asked what Kasich would do to support him. But Kasich noted that they each have “a different vision, a different values system, and a different objective.” …

He also called Trump’s comments about the judge “terrible,” stressing that America needs a leader who can “unify” and fix entitlements. “I can’t go for dividing, namecalling, or somebody that doesn’t really represent conservative principles.”

When asked about the role Kasich plays in Ohio, a key state that Trump may need to win, he said, “It’s not on me as to how Donald Trump does in Ohio. It’s on him. It’s how him how he does in the country. If you’re going to insult Hispanics, if you’re going to turn off minorities, if you’re going to have reckless suggestions on foreign policy—that’s not good. Why would I feel compelled to support somebody whose positions I’m kind of fundamentally disagreeing with?”

Well, for one thing, there’s … The Pledge. When the concern was that a rejected Donald Trump would play a dog-in-the-manger role for the eventual Republican nominee, every other candidate pledged their support for the party’s choice and pressured Trump into taking the same pledge. Kasich and Ted Cruz both backpedaled away from that deal more than two months ago, though, and Cruz remains mum on it to this day. Trump dropped his part of the pledge at the time, too:

Frontrunner Donald Trump revoked his loyalty pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee last night, in a town hall forum with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. His chief rival, Ted Cruz, did not explicitly revoke his similar pledge, while John Kasich also vacillated on his own pledge.

“No, I don’t anymore,” Trump said, when asked whether he would honor his September oath. “No, we’ll see who it is.” When Cooper pointed out that Ted Cruz had not crossed the line in terms of breaking his own pledge of support, The Donald responded, “He doesn’t have to support me.”

Cruz himself stopped short of saying he would not support Trump if he were the eventual nominee, insisting that the question is meaningless because the Texas senator himself would win the nomination.

For his part, Kasich declared that if the nominee is someone who “is really hurting the country and dividing the country,” then he may not support that person. When Cooper pressed him on whether he thinks Trump is such a divider, the Ohio governor would not take a position.

He’s still not quite taking a position now, either. That’s pretty remarkable, considering — as Hemmer points out — Kasich will be the host governor for the Republican convention in about six weeks. He also represents the one state a Republican presidential nominee has never lost while winning the White House. Ohio is an essential win for the GOP if they want to have a Republican succeed Barack Obama, and the Republican governor makes it pretty clear that he’s not interested in helping out.

Kasich insists that he’s not #NeverTrump either, and that “the jury’s still out,” but Hemmer presses Kasich on what appears to already be a conclusion on his part. “He’s trending the wrong way with me,” Kasich says, and tears into Trump over his remarks about Judge Curiel. “It doesn’t look like there’s been any change,” Kasich says about Trump’s approach. “It looks like it’s gotten worse.”

As for becoming Trump’s running mate, Kasich laughs out loud when Hemmer asks, and says he’s not even interested in discussing it. He’s not buying into the lesser-of-two-evils argument either, at least not yet. “It’s not a really great choice,” is all he tells Hemmer.

Kasich finishes by laying out his criteria for an endorsement: “It takes somebody who’s going to take a unifier,” Kasich says, “who’s going to lift people, who’s going to have conservative principles to shrink the size and scope of the government, somebody who gives everybody a sense that there’s an opportunity for them in America.”

In other words …