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Schwarzenegger picks a 2020 primary challenger for Trump: Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that Ohio Gov. John Kasich should campaign for the White House in 2020, essentially calling for a primary challenge to his fellow Republican, President Trump.

“He should run in 2020, yes,” Schwarzenegger said in an interview with The Times when asked whether Kasich, whom he supported over Trump in the 2016 presidential race, should launch another presidential campaign.  

“Kasich is an extraordinary guy. He’s a man of substance. He’s worked in Washington, he’s worked in local government, he’s worked in statewide government. He has the experience. He can see things. He has vision,” Schwarzenegger enthused. “He’s also a moderate. He’s a tough Republican and very fiscally conservative, but he also at the same time loves helping people.”

Speculation is swirling around Kasich, who is traveling this month on a book tour in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary in the nation. When asked whether he planned to run for president again, Kasich has said he is not planning on it, but also refused to rule it out.

Kasich and Schwarzenegger have a long friendship, in part forged when the former California governor held his Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition in Ohio.

In 2016, after Kasich dropped out of the GOP nominating contest, Schwarzenegger still voted for him a month later in the California primary and acknowledged doing so, a pointed snub of Trump, then the presumptive Republican nominee.

Schwarzenegger and Trump have feuded since then on issues including funding for after-school programs, immigration, climate change and their respective approval ratings.

Among the times Trump has publicly insulted Schwarzenegger include during the National Prayer Breakfast, when he asked the crowd to pray for Schwarzenegger because of the viewership of "Celebrity Apprentice," on which Schwarzenegger replaced Trump as host.

Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that he and Trump have a long relationship, and the real estate mogul backed his gubernatorial efforts.

“I know him very well. I spent time with him throughout the decades.… We always had a good relationship,” Schwarzenegger said. “I just think that what ticked him off obviously was when I said, ‘Look, I’m not going to vote for you.’”

Schwarzenegger chuckled when asked whether the president’s focus on him, frequently on social media, was a frustration.

“No, no, I’m very happy. To me I think it is helping us, putting the spotlight on all of the issues I care about — environmental issues, after-school issues, all the issues that are important to me,” he said after a forum on after-school programs where he denounced Trump’s proposal to cut federal education funding. “He puts the spotlight on it by just doing something that is a little crazy, and then everyone talks about it, and then I go and say, ‘Whoa. Here is really what should happen.’

“We can play ping-pong back and forth – you say something, tweet something; I tweet something. It’s perfectly fine,” Schwarzenegger said. “I don’t at all have any complaints.”

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