Onetime presidential hopeful, former Gov. John Kasich confessed Thursday that the GOP’s nomination of former President Donald Trump brought him to tears in 2016.
“I was really hoping that we were gonna block him and that people were gonna come to their senses,” the Ohio Republican told guest Julie Bowen on the “Kasich & Klepper” podcast with “The Daily Show” correspondent Jordan Klepper. “But when it was over, we got off the plane… I went behind this building, and I cried. I had one cry.”
In this lightening-fast-paced world, life pre-President Trump feels to many like a lifetime ago, but if you dig back in your memory bank, you’ll recall that the run-up to the 2016 elections featured what was, at that time, the largest presidential primary field in American history, with 17 major candidates vying for the Republican Party’s nomination.
By March, only three candidates were left standing: Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and, of course, Donald Trump.
At the time, Kasich argued that Trump “is not prepared to be President.”
“The past 24 hours revealed in the clearest way yet that Donald Trump is not prepared to be President,” he said on March 31, 2016, in a tweeted statement.
“Donald Trump is not ready to be Commander in Chief,” the statement continued. “He talks loosely about the use of nuclear weapons and of dismantling NATO. America is facing major challenges at home and abroad and cannot afford to elect a President who does not respect the seriousness of the office.”
"Donald Trump is not ready to be Commander in Chief." pic.twitter.com/XR3vX4Nl4v
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) March 31, 2016
After huge April wins in New York and five of the northeastern states, and a landslide victory in Indiana’s May primary, it became clear to everyone that there would be no blocking Trump.
“Well, you know, I was there ’til the bitter end, and when it was over, I haven’t ever told anyone this, I was on a plane and we were going to do a fundraiser, and I could have done it,” Kasich confided to Bowen. “And I thought, you know, that’s not right, I know this isn’t gonna go on because Trump’s gonna have enough votes in the convention.”
His one good cry, Kasich said, allowed him to move on.
“And then I went to my daughter’s school–and that was really hard,” Kasich continued. “Then [my family] came out and gave me a big hug. But then it was over, and it was a wonderful experience.”
Leaving office and losing the nomination, said Kasich, offered the politician a fresh start.
But that isn’t to say Trump didn’t occupy a rent-free space in Kasich’s head.
By February 2020, the “Republican In Name Only” Kasich was practically begging Democrats to run anyone that stood a chance of beating Trump.
“If Democrats think nominating someone who will: 1. Take away private health insurance for millions of Americans 2. Punish those who have achieved financial success — They will not beat Donald Trump,” he told CNN at the time.
If Democrats think nominating someone who will:
1. Take away private health insurance for millions of Americans
2. Punish those who have achieved financial success
They will not beat Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/Je22hpVCck
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) February 21, 2020
And by February 2022, Kasich was again on CNN to discuss Trump’s “slowly fading” influence.
“I’ve been saying for a while now that Trump’s influence is slowly fading and we’re seeing that as more Republican leaders distance themselves from him,” he tweeted. “Unfortunately, that means his rhetoric is likely to become more extreme and divisive.”
I've been saying for a while now that Trump's influence is slowly fading and we're seeing that as more Republican leaders distance themselves from him.
Unfortunately, that means his rhetoric is likely to become more extreme and divisive. pic.twitter.com/8LS1iwtKEC
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) February 1, 2022
So, it would seem that Kasich’s fresh start may need a reboot… or, perhaps, a box of Kleenex.
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