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Kasich Meets With Delegates In Cleveland

Gov. John Kasich is touching base with delegates from other states in Northeast Ohio this week, even while he’s holding back from endorsing the presumptive GOP nominee.


Credit Office of Governor John Kasich

Kasich made a quick visit with the Illinois delegates in a steakhouse across the street from Quicken Loan Arena. But it had some of the tone of the town halls that were the mark of his failed presidential campaign: a few scribbled notes, a bit of meandering, and a vision of the GOP that it can change people’s lives – for the better.

“We have the kind of feeling that when we rise, everyone should have an opportunity to rise. So we’ve given them a second chance. We’ve reformed the criminal justice system," said Kasich.

He spoke of  the weekend killings of police officers in Baton Rouge, security at the RNC, Ohio’s new police-community commission, the balance of power in the House and Senate, the state of Illinois politics and even his trip to Philadelphia this Friday – on the eve of the Democratic convention – to campaign for congressional Republicans.

What he never touched on – and refused to even acknowledge when a reporter shouted a question – was Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign manager has criticized Kasich for not endorsing the presumptive nominee, saying he’s hurting the party and even the re-election campaign of Sen. Rob Portman.

Kasich has pledged to work hard for Portman – and for Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk – who is NOT endorsing Trump.

The Illinois contingent had mixed feelings about all that.

Sandra Yeh is an ophthalmologist and a Trump delegate. But she loves Kasich, “He is a wonderful man, I thought he ran a really classy campaign. He’s really well-mannered. I just admire him in general.”

Still, she’s not sure she understands his reluctance to back Trump.

“I’m not sure that’s such a good move. Again, I think he’s a principled man; I kind of admire him for sticking to his guns. On the other hand, we beg to disagree. But that’s what a democracy is about.”

Betty Paps doesn’t see it that way. She’s an Illinois visitor, not a delegate.

"I’m just sorry that he can’t bring himself to support Trump.”

And she has a firm response to Kasich’s claim that he would have to see significant changes in Trump before he would change his mind, "You know Trump has done very well being Trump. He’s brought out more Republican votes than ever.”

But the 2020 election was on their minds as well as the 2016 campaign. Yeh says she could see Kasich  as a strong candidate then if Trump falls short this year.

Kasich wasn’t joining in any speculation. But before he darted out, he did touch on his vision for the national GOP.

“You know really an inclusive reform agenda for the Republican Party is where my head is," he said. "We don’t want to cut anybody out.  We are a big tent, but we have to act like it. And we have to have ideas and policies to expand who we are as Republicans without giving up our principles."

Kasich is to be honored by the Ohio Republican Party this afternoon, and is meeting delegates from Michigan and other states throughout the week.

This story is part of WKSU and Ideastream’s election collaborative.

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