As one of the most prominent critics of Donald Trump within the Republican party, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, admits: “It’s been pretty lonely out here.”
Though he does say he would like more company in a Republican party that still seems loath to ever break with the president, even as he endangers traditional alliances or cozies up to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. “Not that I mind walking a lonely road, I’ve done it most of my career, but always would be good if you had more people who are willing to stand up and say that’s the wrong direction,” Kasich said.
The iconoclastic governor leans back in a chair in his office on the 30th floor of a skyscraper overlooking Columbus, Ohio, and the sprawling suburbs beyond. The former Republican presidential candidate did not endorse Trump after losing the nomination to him and has been one of the few members of his party willing to consistently and frankly criticize the administration.
He didn’t see the benefit of being contrarian for its own sake, but as a point of political principle. “You don’t want to become a nihilist, you don’t want to be Ron Paul where nothing is ever good,” Kasich said. “But you don’t want to be a robot for the party.”
Speaking to the Guardian two days after Trump’s Helsinki summit with Putin, Kasich dismissed Trump’s attempt to clean up his already infamous press conference on Tuesday.
“To me it doesn’t explain away what happened,” Kasich said about Trump’s White House statement that he meant to say “wouldn’t” and not “would”. “That was just some short little thing, I just don’t know, I mean maybe he does not understand the consequence or totally disagrees with the vitalness of Nato or the EU.”
Kasich noted his longstanding willingness to speak out when he thought Trump erred. “I’m not a Johnny-come-lately to this.” In contrast, the Ohio governor pointed out “most of the, people have been upset with him, and then endorse him and then they get upset with him. I just have not operated that way,” Kasich, who wrote in John McCain for president in 2016, said.
“I did not feel public pressure to have to go and support somebody that I was not convinced was going to pull the country together,” he added.
A two-term governor of Ohio who ran for office by noting “I think I was in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party”, Kasich is…