Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich went to the White House on Friday to stump for a top priority item for President Obama and Wall Street — and to undercut Donald Trump.
If the irate reaction from Republicans when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie simply embraced Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is any measure, Kasich is in for a torrent of intense criticism from members of his own party.
In the bizarre and unprecedented move, Kasich appeared at a White House press briefing to advocate for Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.
The conference was billed as a bipartisan push for the TPP. Kasich was joined by former New York mayor, political independent and Wall Street billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and by Henry Paulson, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs who served as treasury secretary under Republican President George W. Bush and was the architect of TARP.
Both Bloomberg and Paulson have endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest. Kasich said it was “very unlikely” he would support his party’s nominee in an interview with Dana Bash on CNN Thursday.
The decision to stand in solidarity with Obama in support of the TPP comes at an awkward time for Kasich. A slew of recent polls suggest Republicans opposed to the TPP are gaining momentum in Kasich’s home state of Ohio.
At least three polls show that Trump, who has staked much of his economic appeal on opposition to flawed trade deals like the TPP, has taken the lead in the Buckeye State. At the same time, recent polls have shown that Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who declared his opposition to the TPP in February, is crushing his Democratic challenger, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.
Even in Washington, the controversial trade deal has been rejected in its current form by its chief former Republican proponents in Congress.
In the face of escalating public opposition, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan declared their opposition to the deal in its current form.
Kasich attacked those Republicans who oppose the deal.
“There are people in the House and the Senate who will play pure politics with our future,” Kasich said. “I would call on my former colleagues in the United States Congress to think about the implications of saying ‘no’ to the TPP.”
The implication was clear. Kasich wants Congress to ram through the TPP in the lame duck session before a new president takes office, public opposition be damned.
Kasich also took time at the press briefing to attack GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“Sometimes simple proposals to solve difficult problems sell, but they never work,” Kasich said. Then he attacked Trump’s immigration and trade positions as “a simple way to scapegoat.” Kasich called them “just wrong.”