Former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich delivered a forceful endorsement of Democrat Joe Biden for president during the first night of the Democratic National Convention, lambasting President Trump’s time in office without mentioning him by name.
“The stakes in this election are greater than any in modern times,” Kasich said in a speech recorded outdoors at the intersection of two gravel roads. “Many of us have been deeply concerned about the current path that we’ve been following for the past four years. It’s a path that led to division, dysfunction, irresponsibility and growing vitriol between our citizens. Continuing to follow that path will have terrible consequences for America’s soul because we’re being taken down the wrong road by a president who has pitted one against the other.”
Kasich, who served as Ohio’s governor from 2011 to 2019 and ran against Donald Trump for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has not shied away from criticizing Trump during the president’s first term. But his appearance at the DNC marked a turning point for the fiscally conservative Republican.
Kasich described Trump as “unlike all of our best leaders before him who worked to unite us.”
“I’m a lifelong Republican,” Kasich continued, “but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country. 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.”
Kasich went on to praise Biden, saying he’d known him for 30 years.
“I know Joe is a good man. A man of faith. A unifier. Someone who understands the hopes and dreams of the common man and the common woman,” Kasich said, noting that Biden shared his belief that restoring America meant treating others with “respect.”
“Yes, there are areas where Joe and I absolutely disagree, but that’s OK, because that’s America,” Kasich added.
Before Kasich delivered his remarks, other notable Republican politicians also endorsed Biden and spoke out against Trump. They included former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., and former California gubernatorial candidate and tech executive Meg Whitman.
“Donald Trump has no clue how to run a business, let alone a country,” Whitman quipped.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News published Monday, Kasich ruffled Democratic feathers when he painted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the party’s rising stars, as outside the mainstream.
“I think both parties have to have new ideas, and I think this country is moderate,” Kasich said. “People on the extreme, whether they’re on the left or the right, they get outsized publicity that tends to define their party. You know, I listen to people all the time make these statements, and because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, some member of it. And it’s on both sides, whether it’s the Republicans or whether it’s the Democrats.”
In response, Ocasio-Cortez made clear on Twitter that she and many other Democrats consider Kasich to be the one whose views are too radical.
“It’s great that Kasich has woken up & realized the importance of supporting a Biden-Harris ticket. I hope he gets through to GOP voters. Yet also, something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “We can build bridges & not lose sight of our values. It’s important to remember that Kasich is an anti-choice extremist. He 100% will (and has) signed away our reproductive rights the moment he has the opportunity to do so. He is not a friend to workers.”
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