Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio criticized President Donald Trump on Thursday for engaging in “wrecking ball diplomacy” at the NATO Summit in Brussels. “We go in, we stir everything up,” said Kasich.
In an interview with the PBS NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff, Kasich — who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries — slammed the president’s performance at the summit, joining a chorus of critics who raised questions about Trump’s commitment to U.S. allies and NATO overall.
Trump is “not using the diplomacy that I think strengthens us,” Kasich said, adding: “The resentment is growing, and there is a question of trust. And that is a problem.”
Before departing the NATO summit for London, Trump did affirm his commitment to the alliance, saying in an impromptu press conference, “I believe in NATO.”
But Kasich said many of the Trump administration’s unilateral actions on the world stage have already placed the United States’ relationship with major world allies on delicate footing. Kasich cited Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, imposing tariffs on allies based on “flimsy grounds,” backing out of the Iran nuclear agreement and the “disaster” at the G7 summit last month.
“I see the fraying of a relationship that has kept the peace for 70 years somewhat at risk, and I’m very concerned about it,” Kasich said.
Other highlights from the interview
On Trump’s upcoming one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week:
Kasich said he’d be concerned if Putin asked Trump to call off military exercises in the Baltics, and that the president should be tough on Putin for Russia’s interference in international elections and take a hard line on arms control talks. “You gotta be really tough-minded when it comes to dealing with an adversary who used to be such an important KGB official,” Kasich said of Putin.
On why more Republicans aren’t speaking out against Trump:
“There’s a tribal effect. It was there when Obama was president, and we’re seeing it now with President Trump,” said the Ohio Republican, who served in Congress for 18 years. “You respect the office, but you don’t have to kowtow. You don’t have to say, ‘I don’t have any reason for being here.’”
On whether he’s running again in 2020:
Kasich, the last Trump rival to drop out of the 2016 GOP primaries, is term-limited as governor in January. With just six months left in office, he’s already hitting the speakers’ circuit — including, notably, a stop in New Hampshire just one week after this fall’s midterm elections.
Kasich’s criticism of Trump has fueled speculation that he may mount a second White House bid. In the NewsHour interview, he remained coy about his 2020 presidential ambitions. “It’s very hard to predict what’s gonna happen in the next five minutes in politics today than over the period of the next month. So we’ll see what happens,” Kasich said.
Watch the full interview in the player above.