John Kasich readily acknowledges that he doesn't know if there's a future for a politically homeless candidate in America's presidential race.
But while Donald Trump dominates Republican politics, Kasich compares himself to an opportunistic basketball player: "Just hang around the hoop, and see if the ball bounces off."
At a sold out Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon Wednesday, the Ohio GOP governor told interviewer Bret Stephens he still doesn't know what he'll be doing in the 2020 presidential election.
"I am trying as best I can to keep a political organization together so I can keep a voice," Kasich said to the New York Times columnist.
Does he envision his future as part of the Republican Party? Stephens wanted to know.
"I would like to think so, but I don't know," Kasich replied. "I don’t know if my party can come out of its stupor."
Earlier this week word broke that Kasich is returning to New Hampshire this fall for an event — headlined by Trump four years earlier — about 15 months ahead of the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary.
Kasich finished a clear but distant second to Trump in that contest in 2016. And although he proved to be the last man standing against the future president, the media attention and money never materialized for a frustrated Kasich the way he thought it would after his early success topping 15 other GOP hopefuls.
When asked how Trump pulled it off, Kasich said "Americans kind of felt like the system was not working" for them, and thus wanted to turn things upside down.
"We don’t want anybody with any experience. We don’t want any politicians, this is throw the whole thing out and let’s see what we can get. Plus of course Trump is a celebrity, and we love celebrities," Kasich said.
"I think people felt ignored, sometimes desperate."
But he added: "The worse thing to do is to win an election by selling your soul."
Now both parties cater to the extremes: "So if you’re a Republican you have to kowtow to Trump, if you’re a Democrat you have to kowtow to (Vermont Sen.) Bernie Sanders."
The lack of people willing to speak up is "why the heck I’m on television all the time. … Somebody has to speak about these things. Somebody has to talk about this."
Even in the Ohio legislature, the governor lamented, he cannot win approval of a bipartisan "red flag" proposal that, when a relative voices concern someone could be on the verge of harming themselves or others, would allow authorities to confiscate guns temporarily until a court hearing.
And, in vintage Kasich style, part of his 34-minute talk turned spiritual.
"We are forgetting that we are all made in the image of God. … But when we begin to lose the sense that we are going at some point to account to a higher power for what we’ve been given, and that selfishness does not count for the good, and that we need to live a life bigger that ourselves, that’s what we’re losing."
And that led to the most emotional portion of the speech, in which he condemned the attitude that those fleeing dangers in their own country to come to the U.S. have "brought this on themselves."
"Is that our country? That is not the country that I grew up (in) and the country that I believe must be preserved and the country that I love.
"And our country will be preserved. But don’t wait for somebody else: What the hell are you going about this?"
Then he spoke the line that earned him the loudest ovation of the day: "You’re the spark that creates the revolution that brings us back to where we want to be in this country."