The Democratic National Committee has invited former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, to speak and endorse Joe Biden at the convention in August, garnering mixed reactions from within the party.
“John Kasich tried to obliterate public-sector unions in Ohio, attacked reproductive rights, slashed education funding and championed fracking, yet here he is getting a DNC slot anyway,” progressive activist Jordan Uhl tweeted Monday. “At least he’s not Joe Rogan, amirite?”
Kasich has been a vocal Trump critic, after unsuccessfully running in the 2016 Republican primary. Many centrist Democrats and so-called “Never Trump” Republicans welcomed Biden’s slot at the convention.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Source in the Democratic National Committee Told the Associated Press That Party Leadership Approached Kasich To Speak at the Convention & He Agreed
Kasich was recently approached by party leadership for a speaking slot at the convention and he accepted, the Associated Press reported Monday morning.
After suspending his 2016 campaign, Kasich was clear that he had significant issues with Donald Trump. He declined to endorse Trump, as would usually be protocol within a party, and also declined to even say if he would vote for him, CNN reported.
Kasich supported Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives over his withholding of military aid from Ukraine.
“It’s one for thing for a president to pull aid from a country based on public policy,” Kasich said on PBS NewsHour. “But it’s another thing to dangle aid, vital military aid, over the head of a nation that’s fighting, literally, for their survival based on politics.”
Heavy reached out to the DNC, as well as Kasich, for comment Monday morning. A spokesperson for Kasich declined to comment, and the DNC did not immediately respond.
Kasich’s Conservative Track Record — Including Saying He Does Not Believe in the ‘Gay Lifestyle’ & Signing Abortion-Restricting Laws — Had Some Progressives Concerned About His Appearance
Having spent decades advocating for the worst GOP policies and politicians — including all the post-9/11 war crimes & atrocities — makes you welcome at the DNC. But having cast a blue-state protest vote for Jill Stein in 2016 makes you forever radioactive. #DemPrinciples https://t.co/nKJR8uRPjT
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 20, 2020
Kasich’s record as Ohio governor between 2011 and 2019, and a U.S. Representative between 1983 and 2001, includes a number of votes and positions considered toxic by modern progressives. Some of the issues, including LGBTQ rights, Kasich has softened on, however, the Huffington Post reported.
In December 2016, as governor, Kasich signed a bill banning abortions after 20-weeks of a pregnancy, alarming abortion rights activists. However, he also with the same pen vetoed a so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill, which would have outlawed abortions once a heartbeat is detected, CNN reported.
Kasich also made Ohio the first state to sell a correctional facility to a private, for-profit company, Democracy Now reported.
A number of progressive activists seized on Kasich’s LGBTQ track record, with one calling him an “extreme homophobe”; others noted his past on abortion rights.
Hey look. the same Democratic Party that had a complete meltdown regarding Joe Rogan endorsing Bernie is allowing John Kasich, an extreme homophobe, to speak at their convention
I hate these people so much
— Nancy Pelosi is a Margaret Thatcher Democrat 🥋 (@SocialistMMA) July 20, 2020
john kasich: [closes half the abortion clinics in ohio]
democrats: please come speak at our convention sir🥺
— James Maxwell Musk ❤️Sid🐱אלי דוד (@EDsin954) July 20, 2020
In response to progressive historian Erik Loomis claiming the left’s outrage over Kasich’s potential appearance was “performative,” writer Brandy Jensen said, “my disgust at welcoming the guy who shuttered half the abortion clinics in his state is not ‘performative.'”
It's great that John Kasich will speak at the (virtual) Democratic convention. So should Sarah Mosher. And so should other Republican Voters Against Trump of varied backgrounds from around the country. (Go to https://t.co/ZRRM3r39hv to see hundreds of volunteered testimonials.) https://t.co/wBmRjlIsOY
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 20, 2020
Conservative commentator and organizer of Republican Voters Against Trump Bill Kristol praised the move and said that the DNC should invite Republican voters who have pledged not to vote for Trump again to speak as well.
Kasich is actually showing leadership when our nation sorely needs it.
I for one welcome any and all Republicans who want to save this soul of this great nation. pic.twitter.com/iTCjWtNvTV
— Chris D. Jackson (@ChrisDJackson) July 20, 2020
In my book "Find The Helpers" I write about meeting @JohnKasich & how much our meeting meant. For me, he was a helper. I am so thankful today that he is standing up for Democracy and endorsing @JoeBiden. Governor Kasich, thank you for helping America.https://t.co/ma8yVqiMTX
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) July 20, 2020
Others also welcomed “any and all Republicans” who would stand up to Trump, insisting that the need to keep Trump from a second term was too great for traditional party divides.
The Democratic National Convention Is Slated for August 17 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — But It Will Be Largely Virtual
As of now, the Democratic National Convention is slated for the weekend of Aug. 17 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, albeit in a dramatically scaled-back fashion, as the country continues to face mounting coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. Although plans for the convention initially involved 50,000 people, now it’s looking like about 300 may actually be on-site, the New York Times reported.
Party delegates will largely be staying home and conducting business virtually, the DNC said in a release. The party has also hired Emmy-winning producer Ricky Kirshner, who has produced the Super Bowl halftime show, to oversee the national broadcast.
Much of the programming each night will also consist of pre-taped videos and speeches, the Times reported. The party is also promoting a digital engagement campaign that encourages voters to record short videos about the issues that matter to them, which the party says will be added to the programming.
A full slate of speakers has yet to be released