As the only remaining presidential candidate from the 2016 primary who has yet to endorse GOP nominee Donald Trump, Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio appears to be positioning himself for a presidential run in 2020.
Kasich will have ended his term as a governor by January 2019, when he will be only 66-years-old, making his timeline to mount another presidential campaign feasible.
The Ohio governor had contended for the GOP nomination for the 2016 election, but ultimately dropped out of the race on May 4, according to TIME. He was the last competitor to exit the race, leaving Trump unchallenged.
"You see, I have always said that the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone, and as I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life," Kasich said at the time.
Since his concession speech, Kasich has been maneuvering openly, while other GOP presidential hopefuls have been hiding from the spotlight. In September, the Ohio governor met with President Barack Obama to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to Advanced Ohio.
While Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have publicly opposed TPP, Kasich has joined Obama in promoting the trade deal. Kasich has distinguished himself from the major nominees by wholeheartedly embracing trade.
In the same month, Kasich joined former defense secretary Robert Gates in attending the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a foreign policy forum held in Columbus, Ohio.
The forum found that trade has been a key economic power in Kasich’s state. The coalition stated that, in 2015, “Ohio exported $50.7 billion in goods and services overseas, and trade supported more than one in five local jobs.”
Kasich has also signaled that he hopes to be a forward-thinking Republican on energy policy, threatening to veto any bills from state GOP lawmakers that would reduce the benchmarks for solar and wind power the state produces.
The Ohio governor has also distinguished himself from the rest of the GOP primary contenders by still refusing to endorse Trump. Kasich has traded verbal blows with the Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus over his refusal to endorse the current GOP nominee.
After Priebus signaled that Kasich and other Republican lawmakers could face future campaign penalties from the RNC if they continue to snub Trump, the Ohio governor’s chief strategist fired back, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
“Reince should be thanking the Governor for standing for an inclusive, conservative vision that can actually win a national election and improve our country,” said strategist John Weaver.
Kasich’s mingling with The White House and his refusal to back the GOP nominee signals that the governor may be betting on Trump losing in November, setting him up for a 2020 run against an incumbent President Hillary Clinton.
The Ohio governor almost didn’t have to play the long game. In July, before Trump picked Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate, his campaign had allegedly reached out to Kasich with the job offer.
While Kasich never personally spoke with the Trump campaign, he confirmed that Donald Trump Jr. had offered the vice presidential nomination to him, telling his staffers that he would be put in charge of both domestic and foreign policy.
“That’s what one of them has told me, yes,” Kasich told CNN in August. “I never considered it … I’d be the worst vice president. I have too many opinions.”
While Kasich may not view himself as an effective running mate, he may have designs to be commander-in-chief.