Departing Ohio Gov. John Kasich seemingly wants it both ways.
The President Donald Trump-bashing Republican, long in demand on TV political talk shows, thinks it “likely” he will end up in the news media, hopefully in some “unique” role on television.
But at the same time, the last candidate standing in the way of Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries is keeping the runway clear for another potential run for the presidency.
GOP candidates nervy enough to oppose Trump, or pursuing an obstacle-strewn run as an independent, need to get serious soon about their 2020 candidacies.
However, in an 85-minute interview with The Dispatch editorial board and reporters last week, Kasich said, “I don’t think I’m going to know what I’m going to do (politically) until a significant amount of time passes.”
With his governorship ending Jan. 13, Kasich also signaled he would veto a gun bill headed to his desk, even after majority Republican lawmakers stripped out the controversial stand-your-ground provision that would have removed the duty to retreat unless there was no alternative to using lethal force in self-defense.
Instead, he is getting a bill that primarily only changes the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecution if force is used.
“That somehow makes the bill OK? I didn’t get that,” Kasich said. “Just with stand-your-ground being gone, how about the rest of the bill?
“When you start shifting the burden (of proof) away from somebody who does the shooting to now a prosecutor, that’s a change. I don’t know, why did they want to change that? What’s the purpose of it?”
In another issue that could hit his desk soon, Kasich said he opposes a GOP legislative move to make it harder to amend Ohio’s Constitution unless lawmakers make it easier to get on the ballot through a citizen petition if the General Assembly fails to act. “If it’s not, we should reject it, because I think the public needs to be heard.
“I’d rather this stuff not go in the Constitution, but if you don’t give an alternative, I’m not for shutting the people’s voice down.”
Kasich declined an opportunity to pile on Trump amid federal authorities’ allegations that he was complicit in directing illegal payoffs to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal to cover up having had sex with them at one time. The payments came as he ran for office in 2016. Trump has denied having a sexual relationship with the women but contends the payments were proper.
“In terms of his troubles, I never hope for anybody to be in trouble,” Kasich said. “But we have to see where it plays out. It’s not like I’m on scandal watch, I’ve never been that kind of guy. I’m more interested in the issues.”
Kasich, who finished second in New Hampshire but won only one state — Ohio — in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, said he would prefer to run as a Republican for president in 2020 and “try to restore what the party’s always been.”
On the possibility of running as an independent, the governor said, “But there’s the possibility there will be a big ocean between a left-leaning Democrat nominee and Donald Trump.”
“All the options are there,” he said. “I don’t sit around at night dreaming, ‘Am I going to run for office again?’ But I’m worried about the country. I’m worried about it in a lot of big ways.
“Maybe the Lord will say, ‘John, enough of you for 30 years, enough of you. Go sit somewhere in the corner, shut up for awhile.’”
The one-time host of “Heartland with John Kasich” on Fox News from 2001 to 2007 said he could return to TV.
“I’m likely to end up — I’ve not decided yet — in the media. So I’m not going to lose a voice. I don’t want to be in the media and just be a talking head. I’m hopeful, I don’t know, that I’ll have a role that would be unique if I’m able to do that.”
Kasich said he has not had a firm offer from a TV network but “I like to think it will” happen.