WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a glimpse into an alternate political reality: John Kasich, one of this year’s top Republican presidential contenders, riffing on trade and geopolitics from behind the presidential seal at a podium at the White House.
The Ohio governor had come to the White House briefing room Friday to help promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership and President Barack Obama’s push for ratification in Congress. But as Kasich cracked jokes and fielded rapid-fire questions from White House reporters, one might be forgiven for thinking for a moment that the election had turned out a different way.
“America can’t afford to lock the doors and lower the blinds and ignore the rest of the world,” Kasich said, gripping the lectern with both hands and casually folding one foot behind the other. “We’re a force for good.”
It was the closest Kasich’s supporters will come to seeing their preferred candidate inhabit the job he sought this year — unless Kasich runs again for president in the future and wins. Kasich was one of the last GOP candidates to drop out of the primary after it became clear there was no viable path to stopping Trump.
The chatter at the White House had already been focused on the presidential race due to Donald Trump’s renewed focus on Obama’s birthplace. After refusing a day earlier to back away from the “birther” movement he helped form, Trump finally acknowledged during a bizarre news conference that the president was born in the United States.
Kasich shook his head in disdain during an Oval Office meeting with Obama and other elected officials when the president was asked about the latest campaign flare-up. Asked later what he’d really been thinking, Kasich tried to keep the focus on trade, but couldn’t resist a quick joke.
“What I was really thinking is that Bruce Springsteen has to be really happy because “Born in the USA” is probably going to sell a lot more albums,” Kasich said.