Over the span of about 10 minutes Sunday, first Ohio Gov. John Kasich, then Sen. Sherrod Brown opined on the possibility that they'd square off against President Donald Trump in 2020.
Neither man committed to a run, but the possibility of two Ohioans seeking the White House is unusual, though probably not unexpected in a year when dozens of Democrats are flirting with the possibility of challenging Trump and more moderate Republicans like Kasich are still deeply dissatisfied with the results of the 2016 presidential election.
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"I'm considering it," said Kasich, who said he is having daily conversations with friends and family. "Look, we need different leadership. There isn't any question about it."
Appearing minutes later, Brown expressed similar concern. "If you love your country, you fight for the people who make it work," he said, saying he has spent his career "devoted to the dignity of work."
That both men are from Ohio isn't just a matter of geography and coincidence; despite overwhelming Republican victories earlier this month, Ohio is still considered a presidential swing state with a much coveted 18 electoral votes. More importantly, it's considered aligned with other coveted industrial Midwest states: Think Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In this case, though, circumstances have also lined up to encourage both men to think hard about it.
Kasich, the last Republican besides Trump to stay in the 2016 race, continued to explore running even after Trump was sworn in and has emerged as a leading GOP critic of Trump. On Sunday, he questioned not just the tone of politics in the Trump era but policies that he said have spurred the U.S. to stand alone when it has traditionally partnered with allies; with the rising debt; with the inability to deal with the nation's immigration system.
"I'm worried about our country," he said. "And not just in the short term but I'm worried about our country in the long term. So the question for me is, what do I do about this?"
He kept open the possibility of running as a third party candidate, saying "all options are on the table." He said he does not have a timeline for making his decision.
"I'm not being coy," he said. "I'm not trying to do this for some kind of game. This is really, really serious to me."
By contrast, Brown has only recently begun thinking about running for the White House, saying he began seriously considering it after hearing from voters who urged him to think about it. Brown, who won his re–election earlier this month by about six points, was the only Democratic candidate running statewide to win, and he argues his message about fighting for working people is a proven winner, arguing that even if he doesn't run, he wants that message to resonate.
"My career is devoted to the dignity of work," he said, adding "I think both national political parties may have forgotten that message."
He took a swipe at Kasich, saying the state's long-term trends of young adults leaving it has been in part spurred by a lack of leadership. He said while he respected Kasich's decision to expand Medicaid, "the rest of the direction of the state has I think not been to the state's benefit in terms of state government."
"I didn't have this dream of being president of the United States all my life," Brown told Stephanopoulos. "My dream was to play center field for the Cleveland Indians. That door obviously has closed." But, he said, he has been "overwhelmed by the number of people from around the country that have said we should think about doing this."
He hasn't made trips to Iowa or New Hampshire, he said, but "we're seriously thinking about it, we're seriously talking about it."
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