On Sunday Ohio Governor John Kasich will return to New Hampshire and gladly jump-start the buzz about his running for president in 2020 -- which may come with the premise that he believes Republican nominee Donald Trump will lose in November.
It would be perhaps the earliest, most explicit show of White House ambitions in the history of the New Hampshire primary. Others have been much more subtle.
Trump supporters find the trip either distasteful or just plain irrelevant, dismissing Kasich altogether.
Politically speaking, the Kasich visit has some logic to it, but it is a few weeks too early.
In addition to holding a reunion with New Hampshire supporters of his 2016 Republican primary campaign, Kasich aides say he will also hold an event endorsing Chris Sununu for governor. Sununu, the son of a former governor and the brother of a former US senator, is the slight front-runner ahead of his Sept. 13 primary, but he is by no means a lock. One smart New Hampshire Republican without a dog in the fight put Sununu’s odds at 50-50 to get the nomination against his three opponents, two of whom showed they had more campaign cash in finance reports this week.
Kasich is taking a risk with Sununu that he didn’t have to take. While former US senator John E. Sununu was a major backer of Kasich, Chris sat out the primary. If Kasich had waited just until mid-September to visit the state, he wouldn’t risk egg on his face by picking the wrong guy.
Further, Kasich doesn’t help Sununu ahead of his primary. Kasich is known as a moderate Republican, as is Sununu. Ahead of a low turnout primary where conservatives aren’t sure which way they should go, a Sununu event with Ted Cruz or another well-known conservative would make a lot more sense.
The trip is risky for Kasich and unhelpful for Sununu, but it is great political theater for those who love politics.