John Kasich expected to speak at Democratic National Convention for Joe Biden: report

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, is expected to speak on behalf of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at next month's Democratic National Convention, the Associated Press reported Monday.

The party's invitation comes as other high-profile anti-Trump Republicans are likely to become more active in support of Biden leading up to the election, according to the AP. The AP cited "a person with direct knowledge" of Kasich's plans "who insisted on anonymity to discuss strategy."

Kasich, the governor of Ohio from 2011 to 2019, a former longtime member of the U.S House of Representatives, and onetime Fox News pundit, ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 Republican primary won by Trump. 

Through a spokesman, Kasich declined to comment on the report. The Biden campaign and DNC would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

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A Kasich endorsement of Biden could help strengthen the former vice president's bona fides among moderate swing voters, a key voting bloc that polling shows Biden is winning over Trump. It could also boost Biden's efforts in Ohio, a state that Trump won by  8 percentage points in 2016 but has turned competitive as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the president's polling.

As most of the 2016 GOP presidential field moved to the right, Kasich staked out a center-right lane, propelling him to a second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. But he failed to come close to threatening Trump. Kasich dropped out of the Republican primary in May 2016 after winning only one state, his home of Ohio, leaving Trump the last candidate standing.

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Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield told the AP she could not confirm specific discussions with Kasich but acknowledged the campaign has started to work with Republicans in addition to outreach to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

“In terms of Republican supporters, I think it speaks to a career of being able to work across the aisle, of being able to actually get things done,” Bedingfield said. “We welcome the support of anybody who’d rather see Joe Biden be president than Donald Trump.”

The Trump campaign downplayed and mocked the significance of Kasich helping Biden. "Republicans will never recover," Abigial Marone, rapid response specialist for the campaign, tweeted. 

"Democrats recruit Democrat to speak at Democratic Convention," Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller said on Twitter.

Trump campaign National Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, said, “The grievances of a disgruntled paid commentator from CNN won’t change the fact that it’s just a political speech, at a political event, for his own personal political purposes, and it will be as brief and irrelevant as his failed run for President.”

Kasich has criticized the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He tweeted last week that Trump was elected "because many Americans wanted to shake up DC."

"But what we're seeing now with poor leadership on the coronavirus and stirring racial tensions, dividing us – this is not what ppl signed up for and I think that's what you're seeing in poll numbers."

Kasich also supported the impeachment this year of Trump, calling it "totally inappropriate" and an "abuse of power" for Trump to withhold financial aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political request.

“My view is that, look, I've fought with people on the air over, 'Is there a quid quo pro' and 'Does this rise to the level of impeachment?' I now believe that it does and ...  I say it with great sadness," Kasich said in an interview on CNN. "This is not something I really wanted to do,” he continued. 

More:DNC announces sweeping changes to convention, but Biden will still accept nomination in Milwaukee

Democrats have scaled back the DNC convention, set for Milwaukee Aug. 17 to 20, because of health concerns posed by the pandemic. Although Biden is still expected to deliver his acceptance speech in Milwaukee, the convention has been moved from the city's downtown arena to a smaller venue and delegates have been asked not to travel to Milwaukee.

Speakers are expected to address Democrats virtually with satellite events planned around the country.

In contrast, Republicans have worked to give Trump a "celebration" with a large crowd for his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. But even those efforts have been scaled back because of coronavirus. The RNC said last week it intends to cap the number of attendees and will now use an assortment of other venues, including some that are outdoors, in addition to the city's arena.

More:Republicans fear coronavirus will force scaling back Trump's Florida convention

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.