CLEVELAND — Maybe Ohio Gov. John Kasich didn’t get the memo about Republican unity. Or maybe he did, since he didn’t mention Donald Trump by name as he lambasted a huge portion of Trump’s policy platform Tuesday before and during the party’s formal vote to make the real estate mogul its presidential nominee.
Kasich is not speaking at his party’s convention in his home state. Trump mocked the governor for that on Monday, saying if he had lost as badly as Kasich lost the primaries to Trump, he wouldn’t want to speak, either. And Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, declared Kasich was “embarrassing” Ohio.
But Kasich did speak at events around the convention, including a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce session on Tuesday evening, held as Republicans were nominating Trump at the Quicken Loans Arena just a mile away.
It was the second time that day that Kasich ticked off a list problematic Trump positions that Kasich saw as worldwide threats.
“I look at trade like I look at immigration, like I look at growing nationalism, like I look at isolationism,” Kasich said. “When you isolate, when you have excessive nationalism, when you’re anti-trade and anti-immigration, what good comes from that? What is that a formula for?”
Speaking earlier at a forum sponsored by the International Republican Institute, just a few blocks from the convention venue, he was more pointed.
“We all love our countries, but you know what doing nationalism to an extreme amount can mean,” Kasich told the crowd of Republican foreign policy experts without mentioning the Trump slogan of “Make America Great Again” or the string of speakers at Monday night’s Republican National Convention who argued Muslims, immigrants and civil rights advocates were destroying the country.
“We think NATO doesn’t matter? Are we kidding?” Kasich said at another point, without mentioning that Trump has argued the treaty organization is obsolete.
Rather than shutting down and shutting out the world, Kasich repeatedly argued for embracing it.
“When I look at immigration, I look at a new level of energy. I look at immigration as an opportunity,” Kasich said, without mentioning Trump’s pledge to build a wall. “We want people to come to Ohio. We want to integrate these folks. We want them to become part of our economic dynamo.”
While he said Ohio has had a rough time with free trade, he comes down in favor of more trade because of the upside, including the linkages and relationships he said it fosters.
And when all of those Trumpian anti-trade, anti-immigrant, nationalistic and isolationist inclinations are combined, it doesn’t look good to Kasich.
“What does that stew look like? What does that mean for the world? What does it mean for stability? What does it mean for peace? What does it mean for relationships?” Kasich asked. “I’m very worried about it. I’m very, very concerned about it.”
Trump did have defenders at the foreign policy event who spoke on panels after Kasich left, including marquee players who appeared at the convention Monday night.
One was retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who argued in his comments Tuesday that America “is definitely losing this war” against “radical Islam.”
“I am almost in total disagreement with the governor of Ohio,” Flynn said.
Another was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who actually agrees more with Kasich than with Trump on NATO. “We have some disagreements in our party. That’s inevitable,” Cotton said.
Kasich did make sure to point out that he was not only talking about Trump, especially after being pressed about the party’s standard-bearer in the chamber of commerce conversations.
“I don’t want to spend my time here in Cleveland just talking about Donald Trump without talking about the other choice,” Kasich said, offering some jabs at Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Welcome to Ohio, Mr. Trump.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.