Top Republicans in the House said former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday won’t move the needle in swaying voters, with some going so far as to say it could help energize President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE’s base.
Kasich — who unsuccessfully ran against Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 and didn’t support the president in the general — was prominently featured as a speaker during the convention, where he pitched Biden as a unifier.
“He’s [Trump] unlike all of the best leaders before him who worked to unite us and bridge the differences and lead us to a united America,” he said in his remarks.
“I’m a lifelong Republican. That attachment holds second place to my responsibility to country.”
But GOP lawmakers assert his endorsement of Biden won’t have an impact with independents and that Republican’s opinions on Trump have already been formed.
“I think Biden's selection of Kamala mitigated any advantage Kasich’s endorsement might have had with moderate Republicans or independent-leaning type of voters,” Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanCheney calls out Fox over new Tucker Carlson promo House Democrats select Riggleman as Jan. 6 committee adviser Virginia Democrats seek to tie Youngkin to Trump's election claims MORE (R-Va.) told The Hill.
“I think it actually would energize the base because Kasich is not looked at favorably, especially here in Virginia. So it's interesting to me that, that he would do that endorsement.”
Top Trump ally Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGreene: McCarthy 'doesn't have the full support to be Speaker' Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse Press: Rittenhouse verdict demands change in gun laws MORE (R-Fla.) said he doesn’t believe the speech picked up much traction and took a swipe at gaffes made during his 2016 bid.
“I hope he campaigns with Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE and eats a slice of pizza at every stop,” he said, referring to the former governor coming under fire for eating pizza with a fork in 2016 while on the campaign trail.
“I tried [to watch the speech]. It was so boring I had to flip to a My Pillow commercial just to feel alive.”
Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) agreed there is potential for the endorsement to motivate GOP voters to support the president in November, telling The Hill that Kasich’s likely attempting to set up a future run and his decision not to partake in the 2016 GOP convention didn’t sit well with Republicans in the state.
“I'm sure he's mad that he didn’t make it far enough in the '16 primary and so he's trying to set stuff up for 2024. I can appreciate the fact that he might be angry but I don't think it's going to have any impact on Republicans, and I don't think that he's going to sway that many independents,” he said.
“... Yeah, potentially [the endorsement could rally the base], I mean, here's a guy in '16 when we were proud to host their convention in Cleveland, refused to come down and even kick off the events. There's a hell of a lot of us in the State House and in the delegation that worked to make sure that we had the necessary funding to have our tremendous convention.”
House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous House GOP seek to block Biden from reopening Palestinian mission in Jerusalem Hillicon Valley — Biden signs telecom security bill MORE (R-La.) said that Kasich’s stance on Trump has long been known, noting that Trump won the state without his support before by leaning into his brand of politics.
“I never saw his speech, obviously I saw that he was going to be a speaker, but look he's been bitter since he lost the primary and he lost pretty handily. But, I was very disappointed that John Kasich pledged and gave his word that he would endorse the nominee during the  primaries, and then when he lost and Donald Trump was the nominee he didn't fulfill his pledge,” he told The Hill.
“That all happened while he was governor of the state that hosted the convention. In the end, while he didn’t support the president, the president still won Ohio, in a very strong fashion. So that tells you that Donald Trump has his own brand and he's been able to really tap into millions of forgotten men and women all across the country who gave up on both parties.”