How many times did Ohio Gov. John Kasich say with absolute certainty that Donald John Trump would not be the Republican nominee for president this year?

On Thursday, the only absolute certainty Gov. Kasich knows for sure is that the New York real estate billionaire will be the GOP nominee, after claiming the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination in Cleveland in July on that first all-important ballot.

Gov. Kasich finished in fourth place in the delegate count with just 160, behind second place finisher Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, who despite dropping out of the race before Mr. Kasich finished with more.

Trump entertained the nation and reporters in North Dakota Thursday, sending media hearts aflutter after saying he was open to debating Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who accepted the offer. Sen. Sanders trails Hillary Clinton and cannot win the Democratic nomination no matter what, now that the last important primaries take place on June 7th, when a handful of states, most importantly California, vote.

Ohio’s lame duck governor is playing hard to get, saying he cannot endorse Donald Trump unless and until the businessman folk hero undergoes some metamorphosis in tone and style that meets Mr. Kasich undefined standards for being a positive conservative. That won’t happen. Donald Trump has said that he won’t change what won his the nomination over establishment-lane, career politicians like John Kasich who thought his 18 years in Congress, that included chairing the House Budget Committee for two election cycles, was his ticket to ride. Instead of being competitive, Mr. Kasich decided to pursue a campaign built on hugs and hopes, instead of the bare knuckles campaign Mr. Trump and his advisers advanced that sent the professional political crowd, one by one and including Gov. Kasich, to early graves.

Before suspending his campaign after getting walloped in Indiana,  Gov. Kasich’s next long-shot campaign after losing 46 states and winning only one, Ohio, was to hope beyond hope that The Donald would arrive in Cleveland short of the threshold number needed to win on the first ballot. If that had happened, Camp Kasich thought Trump’s supporters would see his shinning light and abandon Mr. Trump for the experienced performance politician who constantly claimed only he could rise above politics to bring people together to solve problems.

Trump won in the field and on stage debating. Mr. Kasich limped from one primary to another, always predicting with absolute certainty that future states would reward him unlike the ones he lost. That never happened. Losing his second try for the White House in 16 years, Gov. Kasich is clearly miffed he’s been relegated back in Columbus to run his old job of chief executive.

As more and more Republicans line up behind Trump, especially now that he’s all but the official nominee, Ohio’s term-limited governor will again find himself in his own lane if his petulance at not being the chosen one gets the best of him. After all, Donald Trump went light on John Kasich because John Kasich never presented himself as the competitors Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio did. So despite staying in the race far longer than anyone other than his ego thought he should, Mr. Kasich got treated with kid gloves by the angry white man’s Apollo Creed of politics.

Mr. Kasich always likes to be a step out of step with his Republican brand. He often talks about remaking the GOP in his own image. But since he never clarified what that image would be no one knows what it is. Mr. Trump does know what that new party should look like and he’s on his way to doing what John Kasich only talks about. But Trump’s GOP will be different than a Kasich GOP.

Under a President Donald Trump, Politico reported Thursday, the Republican Party will be a different one, a broad, populist coalition focused on workers who have gone too long without a raise and on social programs the party establishment has long seen as anathema to its long-term success.

“Love the question,” Trump said in response to a question from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Joshua Green in a profile of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus published Thursday. The article bears the headline, “How to Get Trump Elected When He’s Wrecking Everything You Built.”

“Five, 10 years from now — different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party,” Trump said in the May 17 interview. “A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry.”

Will John Kasich kowtow to Trump now that the Big Orange Machine is the undisputed nominee going into the convention in Gov. Kasich’s back yard? Time and change will surely show how firm thy friendship, Ohio.

 

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