John Kasich, the stalwart never-Trumper who says he may or may not run for president in 2020—maybe as a Republican challenging Donald Trump or maybe as an independent, because all options are open unless they’re not—stopped in Philadelphia on Friday to practice his Art of the Tease.
“As for me and what I’m going to do,” he riffed during a nonpartisan forum, in his usual free-form manner, “I’ve been on every talk show—has anyone seen me on a talk show talking about whether I’ll run for president? Maybe two people in here, yeah, right—I think of it this way, the way my buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger told me: You have a fire extinguisher in your hand, and if a fire breaks out, you’re ready to put it out. But I don’t know what I’m going to do. I had an absolutely wonderful time running for president the last time. It’s hard work, it’s extremely difficult, but boy, I’ll tell ya what, it can be extremely rewarding if you allow yourself to get caught up in the fervor and passions of the people of this country. It’s fantastic. So we’ll see.”
At age 66, the lame-duck term-limited Ohio governor is like a stock car revving its engine for a race that may never happen. He was the last Trump rival to leave the track in 2016, and what he warned Republicans at the time—that Trump’s politics of fear “could drive America into a ditch, not make us great again”—seems just as salient today, although it’s not clear to Kasich that most of his party brethren are any more inclined to listen now than they were then. Almost 90 percent of Republicans support the president, and the House is more dominated by hard-line Trumpers, now that all the GOP moderates were picked off in the midterms.