John Kasich has joined CNN as a contributor, the network told TheWrap on Tuesday. The former Republican Ohio governor has emerged as one of President Trump’s fiercest critics on cable news and is frequently speculated as a possible candidate for a long-shot challenge to the billionaire in 2020.
The move is a significant evolution for Kasich, who spent years as a stalwart in Republican politics both as a governor and congressman. From 2001 to 2007, he hosted his own show “Heartland” on Fox News.
Kasich was one of the last Republicans standing in a crowded field during the 2016 GOP primary. He hung in the race long enough to win his own state of Ohio, even though his real chances of taking the nomination from Trump had evaporated long before then. On the trail, Trump savagely attacked Kasich in starkly personal terms. When the governor came to campaign in the New York primary, Trump memorably went after his eating habits.
“Did you see him? He has a news conference, all the time when he’s eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion,” Trump ripped at the time. “I’m always telling my young son Baron, always with my kids, all of them, I say, ‘Children, small, little bites.”
As a prominent #NeverTrump Republican, Kasich’s name has been floated by some on the right one who could launch a primary challenge to Trump in 2020. The move has never been successfully carried out in modern times and Kasich is on record tamping down the speculation.
Most political reporters are gearing up for a bare knuckles fight in the Democratic primaries where upwards of two dozen candidates are expected to ultimately announce their intention to seek the party’s presidential nomination.
While history suggests it would be unlikely to unseat Trump as the leader of the GOP, a Kasich challenge could inject additional turmoil into the race — and would likely result in his departure from CNN.