COLUMBUS, Ohio — Republican Gov. John Kasich said Wednesday that he’s focused on backing GOP candidates in down-ballot races this fall and wouldn’t talk about providing any support for Donald Trump.
Kasich has declined to endorse the billionaire businessman, who became the presidential nominee last week at the GOP’s convention in Cleveland.
“I’m going to do everything I can to help House and Senate candidates, so we can keep those houses of Congress,” Kasich told reporters while at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
But as for Trump? “I think I’ve made myself clear at this point about that,” said Kasich, who went up against Trump in the presidential primary but dropped out in May.
The two-term governor has said Trump would “have to change everything that he says” before he would back him.
Ohio is one of the biggest prizes in the presidential election, worth 18 electoral votes. It’s been carried by every winning candidate for president since 1964.
But Kasich wouldn’t say whether he thought the key state should go to a Republican.
Kasich stayed away from the Republican National Convention, though he had other appearances in Cleveland.
The move was atypical for a governor whose home state is hosting his party’s convention, but Kasich said he had no regrets about his decision not to speak at the political shindig.
“I don’t think it would have been appropriate for me to invade somebody else’s party if I wasn’t prepared to give an endorsement,” he said. “You have to always follow your conscience in politics.”
Fellow primary rival Ted Cruz did address the convention but also declined to endorse Trump, drawing some boos during his speech.
Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump has irked some.
During the governor’s remarks at the fair’s opening Wednesday, one attendee shouted, “Endorse Trump, Kasich!”
Kasich told reporters he did not know yet whom he would vote for in the race, but he ruled out the Democratic nominee. “I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton under any circumstance.”
Kasich said his time on the campaign trail “dramatically” changed him. He said he recently met with publishers in New York about plans to write a book.
“It’s going to be about my campaign and the country and problems today and what happens tomorrow to get out of them,” he said.
Asked whether he would seek the presidency in 2020, Kasich said he did not know.
“I have no clue what I’m going to be doing 20 minutes from now let alone 2020,” he said.