Four years in the past, John R. Kasich thought of it unthinkable to vote for Donald J. Trump for president, but he couldn’t convey himself to solid a poll for Hillary Clinton both — so he wrote in Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Not this time round. Mr. Kasich, a lifelong Republican who has spent many years in politics — as a state legislator, congressman, governor of Ohio and presidential aspirant — will change into his get together’s most outstanding chief to cross the partisan divide and assist former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., talking at this week’s Democratic National Convention, after which voting for him this fall.
“I wasn’t going to vote for somebody else,” Mr. Kasich mentioned in an interview earlier than his speech on Monday night. “I just wasn’t going to do it this time. I did it the last time. You know, I had always been hopeful, even after the convention and after the election, that perhaps we would see a change in the president, but we just never have. I happen to think it’s the soul of our country that is being damaged, and that’s what I’m concerned about.”
Mr. Kasich is an unlikely featured speaker at a Democratic conference. As a onetime brash younger House Budget Committee chairman, he embarked with maniacal vitality on a budget-cutting mission as a part of Newt Gingrich’s Republican revolution within the 1990s and later clashed with labor unions as a governor allied with the conservative Tea Party within the 2010s. But he has moved away from the sharper edge of politics in recent times, specializing in problems with poverty and psychological sickness and even breaking with conservatives to expand Medicaid as a part of President Barack Obama’s well being care legislation.
He was the last man standing between Mr. Trump and the Republican nomination in 2016 and has spent the 4 years since then periodically talking out in opposition to him, at the same time as most of his Republican colleagues signed up for the president’s group or remained quiet.
Mr. Kasich insists that his opposition to the president shouldn’t be pushed by bitter grapes.“I don’t have any personal anger or anything toward him, I just don’t,” Mr. Kasich mentioned. “It’s nothing to be taken personally. I just fundamentally disagree with the whole approach, and I’m deeply worried about our nation. I think if we continue this, I worry about how we ever will recover.”
The president, alternatively, had no compunctions about making it private. “He was a loser as a Republican and he’ll be a loser as a Democrat,” Mr. Trump informed reporters on Air Force One a number of hours earlier than Mr. Kasich’s speech. “Major loser as a Republican. I guess you can quote me on that. John was a loser as a Republican. Never even came close. And as a Democrat he’ll be an even greater loser.”
Not all Democrats welcomed him both. To some on the left, the get together is abandoning its rules by showcasing a Republican whose positions on abortion, Social Security, labor and different points have been at odds with Democratic orthodoxy. Among Democrats surveyed by CBS News, solely 38 p.c wish to hear Mr. Kasich communicate on the conference, in contrast with 72 p.c for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and 63 p.c for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, two liberal champions who may also get airtime.
“The party should be focused on energizing Democratic voters rather than using their convention to reassure billionaires, corporate donors and Republican lobbyists that they won’t actually try to challenge the status quo,” mentioned David Sirota, a former speechwriter for Senator Bernie Sanders, unbiased of Vermont, who can be talking Monday night time.
Mr. Biden and his allies argue that Democrats ought to welcome anybody to their battle to take away Mr. Trump from the White House, and that a purity take a look at can be self-destructive.
“It’s great to see Kasich as a speaker at our convention,” mentioned former Gov. James J. Blanchard of Michigan, a Biden delegate and a Democrat, as a result of Mr. Kasich “represents that group of independents and moderate Republicans” Mr. Biden is looking for to win over.
How a lot Mr. Kasich can appeal to different disaffected Republicans to assist the Biden marketing campaign is up for debate. He opted in opposition to working in opposition to Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination this time round, a concession to the president’s command over the get together. “Couldn’t win. It’s a nonstarter,” he mentioned of such a problem. “There was no way to get traction.”
Mr. Kasich mentioned he stays a Republican and acknowledged that he has deep disagreements with Mr. Biden on points, however mentioned that particular person coverage variations are much less essential than the broader disaster confronting the nation.
“Somebody has to start being willing to break down this tribalism,” he mentioned. “I don’t think that I will achieve that, but somebody’s got to start. Somebody has to be able to begin to say, ‘No, you’ve got to take off your partisan hat, and you’ve got to realize we’re Americans.’”
“With Biden, who I’ve known for a long time, I just think that he has the ability to be patient and bring people together and to try to solve some of our big problems by engaging in dialogue,” he added. “Nothing great was ever achieved in this country where we’re fighting with each other like we are now, nothing. And significant things can be accomplished when there’s respect on all sides regardless of some fundamental differences.”
Michael Shear contributed reporting.