FOX19 - Ohio Gov. John Kasich last week returned to the national spotlight making the rounds across the country promoting his new book "Two Paths: America Divided or United," named after a speech he gave last year drawing stark contrasts between himself and President Donald Trump.
The lame duck governor is quick to say he is "unlikely" to launch a primary challenge in 2020, but he is not entirely closing the door, fueling buzz about his potential White house aspirations as he remains in political limbo.
"How do you close the door on anything? If I start closing the door on anything, and all the sudden, I see some duty that I have to perform?" Kasich said in a CNN town hall promoting his new book.
The governor has been all over the place lately
On his aggressive tour, Kasich has signed books in New York, Washington D.C. and Cincinnati. He is also scheduled to make stops in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco.
It was also hard to miss the governor on TV last week. Kasich appeared on Morning Joe, The Daily Show, Face the Nation, Fox and Friends and The View. He also went to Harvard Tuesday and discussed climate change, tax policy, healthcare and police shootings.
With his term up in 2018, Kasich is seemingly gearing up for life after serving as a congressman, Fox News host and presidential candidate. In the 2016 campaign, he was the voice of moderation on a volatile bout for the Republican nomination and was the last competitor to drop out before Trump clinched victory at the convention.
Fighting in the mud wasn't his thing
He largely avoided going after Trump on the campaign trail, but since dropping out Kasich has become one of his most vocal critics in the Republican Party. In his book, Kasich blasts the discourse during the 2016 presidential campaign for going beyond acceptable and placed a lot of the blame on Trump, positioning himself as an ongoing critic of the president.
On multiple occasions, he said campaign aides pleaded with him to get more aggressive with the other candidates.
"I didn't want to go there. It wasn't right. It wasn't me," Kasich wrote in his book. "If this is what it took to win, then winning wasn't for me."
The governor says he saved a text message from his daughter Reese asking him not to "yell as much" as the other Republican candidates on the debate stage.
"I could only think Donald Trump saw the debates as an opportunity to get under the skin of his opponents," Kasich wrote. "Trump has come prepared to deflect every attack against him with a crude, crass response that had no place in a presidential campaign."
Kasich believes one of the deciding factors in Trump's victory was a crushed American spirit.
"I happen to believe that you can't guide an entire society without a shared religious foundation. I saw Trump's reckless entreaties as a weakening of our shared American values — even more so, a coarsening of our shared American values," Kasich wrote. "Donald Trump gave the impression of a man who would do or say anything to get attention, even incite a crowd to violence."
He went on to say the president exploited American's fears without offering concrete solutions.
"Their neighborhoods are deteriorating. They live with the threat of global warming and global terror," Kasich wrote. "Or they live in the shadows, struggling with addiction or a deepening depression they cannot afford to have diagnosed or treated."
The governor is also making it clear he is not on-board with Republicans who are mimicking Trump's campaign tactics and politics. One of those is Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is seeking a second bout with liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio's 2018 election.
Kasich, who supported Mandel's failed 2012 Senate bid, says he won't be backing him in the midterms.
"Any politicians who is going to be in the dividing business, I'm not helping," Kasish said on POLITICO's Off Message podcast. "I don't know what he's going to be saying but if he is a negative guy, if he is a divider, I won't."
Longtime Kasich ally Rep. Patrick Tiberi of Ohio's 13th District is rumored to challenge Mandel in the 2018 primary.
Vice President Kasich could have happened
Gov. Kasich also confirmed the long-standing rumor that he was approached by the Trump campaign to serve as vice president. While serving at the side of the business mogul turned politician, Kasich would have total control of domestic and foreign policy, effectively being the most powerful number two man in history.
According to the governor, Donald Trump Jr. reached out to John Weaver, a long-time political operative that was Kasich's chief strategist during the campaign.
"The governor would be in charge of all domestic and foreign policy," Donald Trump Jr. allegedly said. When asked what the president would be doing if Kasich was tackling all the heavy lifting, Don Jr. reportedly replied, "Making America great again."
Kasich notes that Donald Trump Jr. has denied the conversation between him and Weaver took place. With seemingly complete control of the White House agenda, Kasich didn't want Americans to feel Trump was the one making their lives better, saying the president would, "leave running the country to someone else and keep his focus on the smoke-and-mirrors aspects of the job."
Will Kasich challenge Trump in 2020?
The Ohio governor leaves the door wide open for a presidential bid. He never directly tackles his future in politics but does write a note for his daughters at the end of his book, who will be of voting age in 2020.
"I want to do everything I possibly can to ensure that when you fill out your first presidential ballots, you can vote for a candidate who inspires you, who challenges you, who encourages all Americans to think freely and to dream bigly and to celebrate our differences."
Yes, Gov. Kasich used the word "bigly" at the end of his book.