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Kasich on decision to speak at Democratic convention: America needs to go in a different direction

Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his decision to speak at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in support of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE.

Kasich didn’t support President Trump in 2016, but he did not go so far as to back Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's Valadao unseats Cox in election rematch MORE. This year, he said his conscience drove his decision to take more of an active role against Trump’s campaign for reelection. 

“The reason I didn't support Trump last time is I was afraid he would be a divider and not a unifier ... unfortunately, as I’ve watched him over the last 3 1/2 years now he's continued to do that, and I don’t think the country does well when we’re divided,” Kasich said Monday on CNN’s “Out Front” 

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“I had to search my conscience when the Democrats asked me to speak, I had to think about it, and I believe we need a new direction. We just can't keep going the way that we’re going,” he added. 

Kasich is scheduled to speak on Monday, the first day of the convention. 

The former GOP governor said he disagrees with Biden on some issues but said at the end of the day he sees Biden as a “man of faith” with a history of bringing people together. 

“He can restore civility,” Kasich said. “And I don't think he'll go hard left, I think he's a pretty tough guy. So I'm comfortable with the fact that he’ll be our leader.”

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Kasich also urged other Republicans to come out in support of Biden in his campaign against Trump. 

“Take off your partisan hat and vote on the basis of what your conscience tells you about the future of your country, not just for yourself but for your kids as well,” he said.

The former governor also dismissed concerns about being rejected by his party over his decision to support Biden at the convention. 

“I’m a Republican, but the Republican Party has always been my vehicle but never my master,” he said. “You have to do what you think is right in your heart, and I’m comfortable here.”