Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Chicago to raise money for Sen. Mark Kirk

Chicago Tribune

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, one of the most outspoken critics of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, was in Chicago Thursday to help raise money for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, and said the grit Kirk showed in recovering from a stroke should help him win re-election.

Like Kasich, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination, Kirk has said he will not support Trump. Kasich refused to set foot in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena during the Republican National Convention where Trump was nominated.

But Kasich said he did not view his role as helping to provide cover for Republican members of Congress who, like Kirk, want to distance themselves from the controversial presidential nominee.

"I'm an equal campaigner," Kasich said, noting that he also was going to help Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, who has been critical of Trump's personal attacks but has not removed his endorsement for the presidential candidate.

Kasich said he would assist "whoever would like to have my help" on the Republican side.

"That could include two things: I could come out for them or against them, depending upon what helps them," he said jokingly.

Kasich said he was not troubled by Trump's comments in a Washington Post interview that, if he lost the presidential election, he would start a super political action committee to work against the Ohio governor.

"I don't worry about things like that. I mean, it's just not something that really fazes me. These things, they don't. I've been in politics a long time. I've had a lot of disagreements with people in the other party and sometimes with people in my party. It just doesn't faze me," Kasich said.

Kasich cited Kirk's recovery from a 2012 stroke as one reason Illinois voters should choose him over his Democratic rival, two-term U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.

"He lost a lot. He's fought back from that. That tells you something about the guts and the innards of somebody, and frankly we need more of that in public life," Kasich said of Kirk, who was with Kasich at the event at Bunker Labs, in the 1871 technology incubator at Merchandise Mart.

"If he fought back from those great challenges, what do you think is going to frighten him? What do you think is going to scare him? Who do you think is going to bully him? Nobody. And that's why I'm here for Mark Kirk," he said.

Noting the two oppose Trump, Kirk, who was in a wheelchair, said, "I think the governor and I both suffer, forgive the humor here, from a form of PTSD: Post-Trump trauma disorder."

Kasich then headed to a fundraising event to help Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. Republicans are seeking to erode the Democratic supermajorities in the state House and Senate.

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