Kasich Thanks Supporters and Never Mentions Trump

CLEVELAND – The TV cameras were set up, at least 20 of them; the press – local, national and international – jammed into a spot in a far corner of the first floor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to cover the Ohio Republican Party’s reception for Gov. John Kasich.

As a rock band blared standards appropriate to the venue, the wait was on.

Then came the letdown.

Reporters who had hoped Gov. John Kasich might say something about Donald Trump, at the very least a conciliatory nod to the Republican National Convention underway in this city, instead were treated to a campaign video as prelude to a reconstituted stump speech that appeared to leave the door wide open for 2020.

“We left the [GOP presidential] race abruptly, because we were convinced [to win] we would have to start telling people things that were not true,” Kasich said.

“The message of what we have to do as a nation is more important than John Kasich.”

The governor said his failed presidential campaign “profoundly changed me,” and told of a woman calling out to him as he was walking Monday in Cleveland.

Kasich said the woman told him, “ ‘I am a four-time cancer survivor and I want you to know that the Lord has a purpose for you.’ ”

He responded, he related, by asking her to pray for him and his family “to be the best we can be.”

Kasich thanked the 1,800 Ohio delegates, business leaders and other supporters who filled the museum for the reception. Among them were some 75 members of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber who visited  the city Tuesday as part of the chamber’s “Victory for the Valley” events at the convention.

“I’ve never been more satisfied professionally and personally,” he said.

Then he concluded his brief remarks by echoing his campaign’s theme of optimism about America’s future and belief that good people “can change the world and make a different in how the world spins.”

He took no questions from reporters, who were ushered out of the reception.

Earlier Tuesday chamber members heard from nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, a native of Warren who is regularly called upon by NBC to provide conservative political analysis.

Hewitt mingled with the crowd, connecting with business leaders he grew up with and inquiring about others.

In his remarks at the chamber luncheon held at the Calfee building, Hewitt did not reference Kasich’s refusal to attend the convention or endorse Trump. But during an interview with The Business Journal, he did.

“John Kasich is being John Kasich,” Hewitt said.

“The governor is running for president in 2020, and that’s OK. He and Donald don’t along and he’ll help the down ticket – he’ll get Rob Portman re-elected.”

Does Kasich come off as a sore loser?

“No. The governor comes off as John Kasich as he’s always been. He has his own mind, he and Donald Trump don’t see eye to eye. They don’t share the same rulebook, as he has said. … I don’t think John Kasich is going to work against Donald Trump. I just don’t think he’s comfortable with that brand.”

Neither are many members of Ohio’s RNC delegation – or business leaders for that matter — but they are also uncomfortable with the fractured relationship between the governor and the GOP’s presidential nominee.

“I’m a little concerned, frankly,” Tom Humphries, president of the Regional Chamber told The Business Journal. “If Trump were to win this election, I don’t know where Ohio would stand in his priority list and that concerns me. I’m not saying that John Kasich is wrong but I think at some point in time [you have to recognize] who’s leading the parade.”

Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said he’s “disappointed that the governor could not at least join the convention to welcome us to Cleveland.”

Even so, Munroe downplayed reports of “never Trump” advocates within the Ohio delegation, which cast all 66 votes in favor of Kasich when the roll was called last night.

“Most of the people I talk to recognize that we have to get behind our nominee because that is our best chance to beat Hillary Clinton in the fall,” he said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, interviewed by The Business Journal, suggested that Trump extend the olive branch.

“We know that each side needs to carry Ohio. You put all those things together, it seems to me it’s logical Trump reaches out to the governor,” he said.

“If the Republican nominee were me, “I’d pick up a telephone. I’ve always found that’s the most direct way to deal with things. You’re dealing principal to principal. I don’t know why [Donald Trump] can’t do that.”

Pictured: Karen and John Kasich at Tuesday’s reception honoring the governor.

‘Three Minutes With’ Hugh Hewitt

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