John Kasich, Ohio's top elected Republican leader, not sure Trump can win the state

Posted at 1:11 PM, Aug 07, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he has no idea how he'll vote come November because he doesn't support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

He also says he isn't sure whether Trump can win Ohio if he remains so divisive.

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Kasich, who lost the GOP primary to Trump and shunned the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, told CNN's "State of the Union" that four years of Hillary Clinton would mean "total gridlock."

Kasich announced he was suspending his campaign on May 4, 2016 in Columbus. Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

But Kasich said he can't swing behind Trump either, and that any candidate who wants to win his support has to "operate in the light" and not on the "dark side of the street."

Kasich's absence from the RNC -- and a remark from Trump's campaign manager that the governor was being "petulant" and "embarrassing" -- sparked an intra-party feud during a time many hoped the party would unite behind Trump. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman even got dragged into the fray; the Republican is facing a reelection battle against Ted Strickland, Ohio's former Democratic governor.

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For his part, Kasich told CNN he simply was trying to show respect to the party's nominee by not showing up.

"If I wasn't prepared to go there and get up and endorse a nominee, I just thought it was inappropriate to go into that convention hall," Kasich said.

That's in contrast to another primary opponent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who infamously declined to endorse Trump in his speech at the RNC last month.

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Kasich has been a frequent critic of Trump's approach during the past year. Most recently, when Trump fought criticism from Khizr Khan, father of a decorated Army captain killed in Iraq, Kasich subtweeted: "There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect."

Ohio was the only state Kasich won in the Republican presidential primary race, and it's crucial swing state for Republican hopefuls. Recent polls show Ohio is up for grabs, though Clinton holds a very slight lead.