We touched on this topic briefly yesterday in a post about how to tell which politicians may be planning a presidential run in the future. The list consists almost exclusively of Democrats, with one major exception.
As the Washington Post reports, one lone Republican Governor still might have the desire deep down to challenge a sitting president in his own party. Appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, Kasich won’t rule out the possibility of primarying Donald Trump in 2020:
MAHER: I could see a challenge in the Republican Party for 2020. Would you be up for that?
KASICH: It — it all … [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS] No, no, no, no, no. Look, I’m going to …
MAHER: You wouldn’t challenge him as a sitting president?
KASICH: That’s so — it’s so speculative. And look, I’m going to finish my term in 18 months as governor of our state, pull the state together and get it to do better and better and better. That’s what I’m all about — and giving everybody a shot. And then I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep a voice, but I can’t predict to you — I never thought I would be governor, I never thought I’d go back into politics. So, what I look for is, ‘What is it I’m supposed to do? What is it I’m supposed to do in my lifetime to build a better world or build a better community or whatever?’ And so I can’t tell you what that’s going to be, and I’m not plotting and scheming. I’m rooting for him to do well, Bill, for the same reason I root for a pilot on my airplane to do well. Okay? He’s the president.
He’s rooting for Trump in the same way he roots for the pilot when he’s on an airplane? That’s basically rooting that you don’t crash and burn a fiery death before reaching your destination. Clearly that wasn’t an outright “No,” which the WaPo notes:
It’s pretty clear Kasich is leaving the door cracked open here. The “no no no” part was less a “No, I won’t run” and more intended to temper the crowd’s enthusiasm. The rest of Kasich’s comments suggest that he may very well feel called to take the plunge in 2020. At the very least, he’s conspicuously leaving it open as a possibility in a way he didn’t just six weeks ago.
Either that or he just realizes that keeping this possibility open is the best way to retain a platform. Without being Trump’s potential primary challenger, he’s just the outgoing governor of Ohio who won a state in the 2016 presidential race.
It really could be all about retaining a method for Kasich to earn free media whenever he needs it. Anytime something happens in the next few years, the Sunday political shows will call on their token “Republican Trump Critic” in John Kasich to get the “skeptical Republican” view on everything Trump does as Commander-in-chief.
Every question for Kasich when it comes to asking about Trump policy starts with something like, “Governor Kasich, as a Republican yourself, what do you think about……”
There are plenty of Republicans willing to carry water for the current administration, but very few with a profile as high as sitting Governor to always off the skeptical and sometimes critical opinion in public venues. Kasich seems to revel in that role.
As for actually primarying Trump in 2020, I’d say the chances of that happening are truly less than ten percent, which is still fairly high, but very unlikely.