Former Ohio Governor John Kasich was invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention as the party formally names Joe Biden as the 2020 presidential nominee and Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. But Kasich has not switched his party allegiance. Although he says he will vote for Biden, Kasich has insisted that he still considers himself a conservative Republican.
Here’s what you need to know:
John Kasich: ‘The Republican Party Has Always Been My Vehicle But Never My Master’
I will be speaking at the #DNC Convention because I believe that America needs to go in a different direction.
I've searched my conscience and I believe the best way forward is for change – to bring unity where there has been division. And to bring about a healing in America. pic.twitter.com/sfnBGBF3kG
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 11, 2020
Kasich is still a member of the Republican party. But in a recent interview with Erin Burnett on CNN, where he is a contributor, Kasich stressed that he has always maintained a sense of independence. His vote is based on his conscience. He told Burnett, “The Republican party has always been my vehicle, but never my master. You have to do what you think is right in your heart.”
Kasich explained that he doesn’t support President Trump because he feels the current administration has done more to divide the country rather than serve as a unifying force. He encouraged other members of the Republican party to follow his lead. “Take off your partisan hat and vote on the basis of what your conscience tells you about the future of our country. Not just for yourself but for your kids as well.”
But as Kasich discussed, his decision to vote for the Democrat in 2020 is not simply an anti-Trump vote. Kasich has known Biden for nearly 40 years, as the Columbus Dispatch noted. Kasich served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 through 2000, while Biden represented Delaware in the Senate. Kasich explained in the CNN interview that his decision to support Biden was based partly on his belief that Biden could work with people on both sides of the aisle.
“His history has been an ability to bring people together. That’s the way it was when I was in Congress when we balanced the budget and were able to do welfare reform,” Kasich said. “I think he can restore civility. And I don’t think he’ll go hard-left. I think he’s a pretty tough guy. I’m comfortable with the fact that he would be our leader. And I expect he’ll have Republicans that will be part of anything he does going forward. That’s his nature.”
Kasich added that he would disagree with Biden on several issues. But he said that part of his comfort with Biden is that he views Biden as “a man of faith.” Kasich was raised Catholic but now attends an Anglican church.
Kasich Voted For John McCain in 2016
Kasich was the final Republican challenger to drop out of the primary race in May 2016. His spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, said that when the election arrived, Kasich voted straight Republican on his absentee ballot.
Kasich refused to support Donald Trump. Kasich instead chose to write in John McCain’s name at the top of the ticket. But Kasich said he wouldn’t write in another name this time around. He told the New York Times ahead of the DNC speech:
I wasn’t going to vote for somebody else. I just wasn’t going to do it this time. I did it the last time. You know, I had always been hopeful, even after the convention and after the election, that perhaps we would see a change in the president, but we just never have. I happen to think it’s the soul of our country that is being damaged, and that’s what I’m concerned about.
Kasich added that he doesn’t hold any personal resentment against President Trump. “I just fundamentally disagree with the whole approach, and I’m deeply worried about our nation,” Kasich told the Times.
Kasich Says the Republican Party Has ‘Lost Its Way’
The divisions and anger in this country must stop. It's time for a change and while there will certainly be times when we disagree on issues, I believe that @JoeBiden will be a unifier.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 11, 2020
Kasich recently told CNN’s Don Lemon that he feels it’s part of his job to “resuscitate” the Republican party. He said that he felt the party had “lost its way” in the era of President Trump.
Kasich explained that he doesn’t recognize the GOP in its current state and that “the efforts of the president belies the principals that Lincoln founded the Republican Party upon.” Kasich said he feels the core value of the GOP is to fight for “opportunity for all” and that the party needs to return to that.
Kasich added that he’s committed to the party that he’s been a lifelong member of but that he feels another four years of President Trump in office would be harmful to the country. “I’m a Republican. I’m not going to change my party. I’ve been a conservative Republican. But I’ve had enough of this. I’ve had enough of the division. We’re not getting anything done. So to just sit it out again, and say, ‘Well, I’m not going to be for Trump and not lend my support to somebody,’ it doesn’t make sense for me this time around.”