Ohio Gov. John Kasich will join President Barack Obama Friday to push for free trade agreements, including the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Kasich's push for TPP and free trade in general puts him at odds, once again, with his party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who has made bashing trade agreements a cornerstone of his campaign.
Campaigning in Kasich's home state Wednesday, Trump promised an "America-first trade policy," pledging to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and oppose the TPP.
"I will defend your jobs, and I will bring back vehicle production to the United States of America," Trump said at a Canton rally Wednesday night.
Kasich, by contrast, said free trade helps Ohio, a key swing state. Ohio companies sold more than $50 billion worth of products and service abroad last year. Exports to the 12 nations that are part of the TPP accounted for 560,000 Ohio jobs, Kasich said in a news release.
"Free trade is not only a powerful driver of job creation for Americans but it's also a national security issue," Kasich said in a release. "There's no better tool for America to encourage other nations to embrace freedom and equality than healthy trade relationships"
Kasich briefly ran for president in 2000 and then again in 2016. This year he won only one Republican primary – his home state of Ohio – and has declined to endorse Trump.
He told CNN Thursday he was "very unlikely" to vote for Trump. As for criticism that he was being disloyal to his party by joining Obama, Kasich responded: "I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party. It's time we start doing this in this country."
Also at the White House event will be former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; and IBM President Virginia Rometty, among others.