John Kasich says he doesn’t know whether he’ll run for the White House again in 2020.
But the two-term Ohio governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate said he realized his Tuesday trip to New Hampshire – which holds the first presidential primary – would spark more speculation that he’s considering a primary challenge against President Donald Trump.
And it appears Kasich’s fine with that.
“It’s great to come back because it gets everybody atwitter, literally. I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. But all my options are on the table. But I don’t know,” he said in an interview with Fox News in Manchester, N.H.
Kasich said any decision on mounting another White House bid would come at least nine months from now, after he finishes his second term as Ohio governor.
“What I know is that I want these next nine months to be a wonderful time in Ohio,” Kasich said.
While he repeatedly said he had “no clue” whether he’d run for president again, he added that “I would like to keep my voice out there.”
Kasich returned New Hampshire for the first time in a year to deliver a speech at New England College, as part of the school’s President’s Speaker Series.
Kasich told the audience, “I am trying to be a voice that brings about stability and objectivity in our country.”
Asked by the moderator about gun violence and school safety, he praised the push for stricter gun laws by students who survived February’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“Have you seen them on television the last couple of weeks? Have you ever seen more articulate young people?” Kasich said. “And shame on the adults who are attacking them.”
Last month the governor introduced a six-point plan to reduce gun violence in Ohio.
“I can tell you in my state, I’m not going quietly on this,” Kasich emphasized.
But he cautioned it was important that “we don’t want to denigrate people who believe so firmly in the Second Amendment.”
Earlier he met with Granite State advisers and supporters from his 2016 presidential campaign. He also did a round of media interviews and in the morning met quietly with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. Kasich endorsed Sununu during the state’s 2016 GOP gubernatorial primary.
Kasich praised Sununu, saying, “I met with him today and I have to tell you I was really impressed.”
Once a longshot for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, Kasich concentrated his efforts on New Hampshire and came in second to Donald Trump in the Feb. 2016 GOP primary. He kept his campaign alive deep into the primary calendar and unlike Trump’s other rivals for the nomination, Kasich never endorsed Trump for president. And he’s remained a critic of the President.
But Kasich said he took issue with that description.
“I wouldn’t label myself a critic of Donald Trump,” he said. “When he does something that I like, I say it’s good. And when he does something that I don’t like, that I think is inappropriate, I say that it’s bad.”
Kasich said he said he hasn't recognized his party anymore, adding, “the Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party that I’ve ever known. It’s a weird, weird, situation.”
And, he predicted trouble ahead for his party in this year’s midterm elections.
“There’s going to be a wave coming here. It’s going to be a blue wave because voters are motivated,” he explained. “That can pose a risk for anybody who’s a Republican now.”
Kasich said he worried about the anger he’s sensed across the nation, adding, “I have a lot of strong feelings about our country and I feel like we’re being torn apart.”
Kasich wasn’t the only potential 2020 presidential contender in the Granite State on Tuesday. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley – who ran for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out after a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses – spoke earlier at “Politics & Eggs” at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The speakers series is seen as a must-stop for White House hopefuls.