Ohio Governor John Kasich has, apparently, positioned himself as the “anti-Trump.” His temperate personality and moderate stance on the issues put the former presidential candidate at odds with the nationalist grass-roots wing of the Republican Party–a faction that is gaining an increased strength in the Trump era.
According to CNN, Kasich appeared on the network’s Jake Tapper-hosted State of the Union program on Sunday to express his dissatisfaction with the direction the GOP is taking. Kasich told Tapper: “If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party. Period. That’s the end of it.”
Kasich directly responded to the recent primary victory of Judge Roy Moore, the populist candidate who decisively beat establishment-backed Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) to become the Alabama Republican US Senate candidate in December’s special election, an upset win reported by Breitbart.
As NBC News noted, the Strange camp outspent Moore by a margin of 5-to-1. But Moore had strong support from evangelicals and was endorsed by a number of high-profile figures popular with the Republican base, including Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Nigel Farage, and Sebastian Gorka, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
Moore won with the support of voters who propelled Donald Trump to an unlikely victory over Hillary Clinton, the media favorite who raised $1.2 billion compared to Trump’s $646.8 million.
But Kasich takes issue with this growing movement. When asked about whether the Republican party should support Moore in the upcoming December election, the Ohio governor declared he personally does not back fellow-Republican Moore.
“I don’t run the party,” Kasich said. “I can tell you, for me, I don’t support that. I couldn’t vote for that.” Kasich declared, “I want this party to be straightened out.” He also called Moore a “divider.”
“What I’m trying to do is struggle for the soul of the Republican Party the way that I see it And I have a right to define it, but I’m not going to support people who are dividers.”
Moore campaigned on a “hard-line” stance on issues that resonate most with the Republican base. Moore is staunchly against amnesty and supports the elimination of Barack Obama’s DACA executive order, which shielded hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation. Moore champions the RAISE ACT, which would reduce legal immigration by half and limit chain migration.
Kasich, on the other hand, has been outspoken about providing legal status to DACA beneficiaries. As CBS News reported, the Ohio governor believes those who entered the country illegally as minors should have “permanent resident status and they ought to stay and be able to contribute.” Kasich went so far as to invite “DREAMers” to live in his state. “If the dreamers want to go somewhere and live, come to Ohio, we want all the immigrants to come to Ohio, we know how much immigrants contribute.”
Many of the moderate establishment Republicans have stood in obstruction to the Trump presidency. Are middle of the road Republicans like John Kasich a threat to the Republican Party?
Although he has publicly allied himself with Colorado’s Democrat governor, John Hickenlooper, Kasich has denied that the two would run as an independent ticket in 2020.
President Trump won the 2016 race thanks to his surprise victory in blue Midwestern states, including Ohio. Although Kasich dismisses the rising nationalist populist movement within the GOP, it is an agenda which seemingly has broad appeal among working-class voters in the Rust Belt.