Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave Ohio Gov. John Kasich an ultimatum Sunday: Back GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump or never run as a Republican for the White House again.
That threat – made on political talk show Face the Nation Sunday morning – didn’t sit well with Team Kasich.
Kasich adviser John Weaver fired back with an insult-laden response to Priebus just hours later.
“He will not be bullied by a Kenosha political operative that is unable to stand up for core principles or beliefs,” Weaver said in a statement. “In fact, Reince should be thanking the governor for standing for an inclusive, conservative vision that can actually win a national election and improve our country.”
With less than two months until Election Day, the public feud between two party stalwarts suggests deep divides within the Republican Party over the presidential nominee are not healing.
Kasich hasn’t kept his disapproval of Trump quiet. Although the festivities took place in his home state, he refused to step foot in the Quicken Loans Arena during the Republican National Convention in July.
While polls show Trump gaining momentum in Ohio last week, Kasich stepped up his criticism in a televised interview with CNN where he said it’s “very unlikely” he will vote for the GOP nominee. And again Friday, Kasich made a pass to upstage the GOP nominee as he held a news conference at the White House calling to support a the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement Trump has openly opposed. A few blocks over, Trump held a press tour of his new Washington, D.C. hotel.
Priebus aired his frustration with Kasich, along with other GOP presidential contenders who have refused to throw support behind Trump, Sunday.
“Those people need to get on board,” Preibus said on Face the Nation. “And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, you know, I think that we’re going to evaluate...the nomination process, and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”
Priebus later confirmed Kasich was one of those Republicans.
Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges chided Priebus on Twitter – pointing out that he should be more worried about the election that’s 50 days away.
No. This is not what we are all about as a party. Besides, let's stay focused on 2016 for the next 50 days. https://t.co/wvglyjfBER
— Matt Borges (@ChairmanBorges) September 18, 2016
Many Republican leaders have been uncharacteristically shy with their support for the GOP nominee. Sen. Rob Portman, for example, has done little more than simply say he will vote for the nominee. He has not openly campaigned for Trump or got up on stage at the rallies he’s held in Ohio.
But few Republicans have been as vocal in their distaste for Trump as Kasich. Worried that Trump could sink some Republican senators chances of winning seats in competitive races, Kasich has taken to the campaign trail in New Hampshire and Arizona to help the candidates campaign.
That’s led some to speculate that the Ohio governor is building a strong network and laying the groundwork to run for president again 2020.
Kasich has played coy with his plans for the future, granting only a handful of news interviews since exiting the presidential race.
“I just want you all to understand something … folks, I don’t want anything,” Kasich told the Michigan GOP delegation at the RNC in July. “I’ve had an unbelievable career. When I finish my next couple years (as governor) I’ll have held public office for 30 years.”