GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has blasted President Donald Trump for asserting that white nationalist and anti-racist protesters were equally culpable for violence during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Aug. 16, Kasich offered a withering take on Trump's heated press conference the day beforehand.
"Pathetic, isn't it?" Kasich told NBC News' "Today" show.
"Just pathetic. ... To not condemn these people who went there to carry out violence and to somehow draw equivalency to somebody else?" the Ohio governor continued.
On Aug. 11, members of the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi movement and the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue and stage a rally. On Aug. 12, the white supremacists clashed with counter protesters in the university town, culminating in alt-right member James Alex Fields Jr. plowing his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racist activists, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, The Washington Post reports.
On Aug. 15, Trump asserted during a White House press conference that the counter protesters shared equal condemnation with the white nationalists.
"Yes, I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said, according to The New York Times. "You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it ... you also had people that were very fine people on both sides."
The president added that he believed some of the members of the alt-right rally were not neo-Nazis and that the "press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
In Kasich's view, Trump emboldened the white nationalists by drawing a moral equivalence between them and the anti-racist activists.
"Now these folks are apparently going to go to other places and now they think they have some sort of a victory," Kasich said.
The Ohio governor asserted that the white nationalists exclusively deserved the blame for the violence.
"These people went there to disrupt ... When there's no human decency, it leads to disorder, which is what we saw down there," Kasich continued. "And disorder leads to death."
Kasich, who had mounted an unsuccessful campaign during the 2016 GOP primary, noted that he declined to endorse Trump during the general election: "I felt that he was a person of division, and I have been hoping, I have been restrained, in wanting him to be better ... There is a bitterness setting in that may not able to the removed."
The Ohio governor urged Trump "to understand that it's not about winning an argument, it's about bringing the country together ... he's got to fix this and Republicans have to speak out."
Kasich stopped short of calling on his fellow Republicans to demand the president step down.
"You're not going to turn your back on the president," Kasich concluded. "You're going to speak clearly and bluntly and say get your act together."