Some of you may remember a man named John Kasich.
He’s the Republican governor of Ohio who hosted last year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland but declined to attend because, Donald Trump. He was also the last of 16 other competitors to give up their quest to win the GOP presidential nomination because, Donald Trump.
Now, 163 weeks before his party’s next convention, Kasich has written another book, “Two Paths: America Divided or United.” Anybody who’s run for president and writes a new book around now in the ensuing election cycle is automatically suspected of smoldering White House ambitions.
We wrote here the other day about Elizabeth Warren’s new book that answers the burning question, why she didn’t run last year against Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t take a book. That takes a sentence: Because the liberal senator from Massachusetts is not politically suicidal.
Kasich may be. His current book tour keeps him in the media mix and as Kasich well knows, every interviewer seeking trouble for Trump will inevitably ask if the Pennsylvania native is running in 2020.
The former House member, Wall Street exec and TV host doesn’t say no. “I’m not here today because I’m running for president,” Kasich explains, which wasn’t the question. “My wife would kill me. But you don’t ever say no to anything in life.”
Term-limited Kasich will be unemployed come January 2019. But that gives him time then to become a fulltime moderate conscience for the GOP. Or even to mount his own campaign again, to go out speaking about his concerns for the country, the party and the people. And, oh, yes, to fundraise as the reasonable alternative to the Tweeter-in-Chief.
That would involve the risky business of challenging a sitting president of his own party. That’s the politically suicidal part. Although such challenges are always allegedly founded on political principle, they rarely accomplish more than split their mutual party and elect the other guy — or perhaps next time, gal. Think Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft or George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot, who had his own short-lived party.
Nobody knows now how Trump will be doing in a couple of years, soaring along as the most successful job creator since God or as an even more unpopular wartime, chief executive presiding over a GOP that lost the House and maybe the Senate in the 2018 midterms. Of course, any first term White House incumbent talks about a second term as a given until he doesn’t. But the billionaire will turn 74 before the next general election campaign.
Kasich will be 68 then. Ronald Reagan was two weeks shy of 78 when he left office.
The enmity between the men is understood. Trump successfully dumped Kasich’s candidate for Ohio party chair. For now, the governor says he had a delightful White House visit in February and mutes direct criticism.
“People are hurting. That’s real,” Kasich says. “So, you have two ways of looking at it: You take somebody like that and you say, ‘It’s somebody else’s fault, somebody else ripped you off.’ And you drive that anger. Or you can look at them and say, ‘This is a terrible thing, but let’s work it out, let’s figure it out.’”
Clearly, Kasich prefers the latter approach. He doesn’t have to identify who follows the other path because, Donald Trump.