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Aug 29, 2016 11:09 PM

On another presidential bid, Kasich tells NH1 News 'I don't close any doors'

NH1 News Political Director

EXETER – John Kasich says when it comes to the possibility of another White House run in 2020, “I don’t close the door on anything.”

And in an exclusive TV interview Monday with NH1 News, the Ohio governor and former Republican presidential candidate also said “nothing has changed” when it comes to his decision not to support GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Kasich added that he’d “like to come back” to New Hampshire before Election Day to campaign with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte. And he also called for a redefinition of the Republican Party, saying “I don’t think that the party’s living in the 21st century.”

Kasich spoke with NH1 News in Exeter, as he and GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu walked through the town, meeting with officials, small business owners, and voters.

Earlier, at an event at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, Kasich formally endorsed the three-term executive councilor’s bid for the Corner Office. Kasich was introduced by Sununu’s older brother, former Sen. John E. Sununu, a longtime friend and colleague who was a top adviser to Kasich’s presidential campaign and chairman of his efforts in the Granite State.

Kasich’s visit to New Hampshire was his first since his runner up finish to Trump in February’s first-in-the-nation primary boosted his once longshot bid for the Republican nomination. He stayed in the race until early May, when he suspended his campaign.

Kasich hasn’t endorsed Trump, and avoided attending the Republican National Convention even though he was overseeing Ohio’s security for the event, which was held in Cleveland.

Chris Sununu is backing Trump, and two weeks ago was a high profile guest at a Manchester rally headlined by the GOP nominee’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Asked at the news conference by NH1 News if Sununu’s support of Trump was troubling, Kasich answered “not at all. Look, everybody has to do their thing. And I think that Chris’s position even before the race was over was that he was going to support the nominee. I understand that.”

“It doesn’t affect what I think about his ability to be able to be a good governor,” Kasich added.

Later, in his NH1 News interview, Kasich said “nothing has changed” when it comes to his decision not to endorse Trump.

Kasich also offered that he may return before Election Day to campaign with Ayotte, who’s facing a stiff re-election challenge from Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

“They’re working on the schedule. And if they want me back here, I’m campaigning all across the country for House, Senate, governors, whatever I can do to help. So I’d like to come back. We’ll see. We’ll see how it works. I like coming here. I have a lot of people that have become friends. I like to see them. I like to spend time with them. I like to kid them and hang out with them,” Kasich added.

Kasich opens up about 2020

Monday was the second and final day of Kasich’s Granite State visit. On Sunday evening he hosted a thank you party at the Concord Country Club for top supporters of his White House bid. The visit sparked more speculation that the two-term Ohio governor and former longtime congressman may run again for the White House in 2020 if Trump loses November’s presidential election.

WATCH/READ: Kasich hosts 'thank you' party for NH supporters

Asked if he’d run again if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, Kasich thought for a moment, then answered “you know that’s like impossible to say, to answer. You know it’s just like talking to somebody who just finished a marathon and say ‘do you want to go and do another one.’ I don’t know. I don’t close to door on anything.”

But Kasich also offered that the GOP needs a major makeover.

“I think the Republican Party needs to be redefined. I don’t think that the party’s living in the 21st century. I think we’re still back in the Eighties with the same old rhetoric. And look economic growth is critical but politics is more about people today than it is about policy. People feel disconnected, lonely, and we need to connect people again. And I think that we need to speak to the things that they care passionately about, which to a large degree are very personal things like drug addiction or mental health or human trafficking or the environment or student debt. I mean these are all things that hit people, you know, right in the gut, and sometimes they feel like they’re out there alone having to deal with this. And I think that a political party that’s going to be successful needs to speak to them. I don’t think that the Democrats do it any better than the Republicans,” Kasich said.

“So when the election’s over it’s going to be a matter of, I think, if Donald Trump doesn’t win, is what’s the redefinition of the Republican Party. What does it stand for. What’s the conservative movement all about. And so I’ll be focused on that,” Kasich continued.

Asked if a third presidential bid (then-Congressman Kasich briefly ran in the 2000 election cycle) in 2020 would be easier, thanks to better name recognition and stronger support already in place in key early voting states like New Hampshire, Kasich answered “I don’t know. That’s just so far out there that If I answered affirmatively that I would run then I wouldn’t be able to go back home, because my wife would lock the doors on me.”

“I mean, you can’t project or speculate on what’s going to happen in the next year, let alone over the period of four years from now. I don’t close any doors, but just can’t tell you. And I’m not spinning. I just have no clue what the future holds for me,” Kasich added.

But he couldn’t end the conversation without a joke, offering that “I know one thing about my future, it’s definitely in front of me.”

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