Former Governor John Kasich of Ohio, the last candidate standing against then-candidate Donald Trump for the Republican nomination four years ago, crossed the partisan divide on August 17 to speak at the Democratic National Convention and call on fellow Republicans to abandon the president in November. In a move that would have once been unthinkable for a committed Republican who toiled for decades in the Ohio statehouse and Congress for conservative causes, Kasich declared that the country could not afford four more years of President Trump in the White House because he was pitting Americans against each other. “I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Kasich said in his speech, which was recorded at a literal country crossroads in Westerville, Ohio, to signify the choice he sees facing the nation. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen. But these are not normal times.”
John Kasich offered a warm testimonial to former Vice President Joe Biden who is set to be ratified as the Democratic nominee this week, calling him “a good man, a man of faith, a unifier.” And he sought to rebut President Donald Trump’s argument that Biden was a weak-willed captive to the “radical left” of his party. “I’m sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat,” Kasich said. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that. Because I know the measure of the man — reasonable, faithful, respectful. And you know, no one pushes Joe around.”
Three other disenchanted Republican political leaders joined John Kasich in addressing the convention on its first night, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, former Representative Susan Molinari of New York and Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Quibi and the 2010 Republican candidate for Governor of California. A series of everyday Republican voters were also shown in recorded messages supporting Joe Biden. But it was unclear whether any of them would draw other Republicans in large numbers. The featured leaders were rising stars in their day, but their day was long ago. Molinari was the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in 1996, Whitman’s last election as governor was in 1997. John Kasich has held office more recently, but won just one primary in 2016, in his home state of Ohio. During his time as governor, John Kasich developed a reputation as a moderate Republican, supporting moderate positions on social issues and national security issues, but supporting conservative fiscal policies. Kasich was a very popular and highly-regarded governor as well, getting re-elected with nearly 64% of the vote in 2014 and a 62% overall approval rating.