But his digital presence, to say the least, was jarring for progressives who haven't forgotten what Kasich's historically represents.
While the former Fox News host has worked hard over the years to strike a more moderate tone after years of climate change denial and Tea Party antics, his history speaks for itself.
The Democratic establishment's attempt at unifying their party over the Trump administration with cross-ideology support means they are platforming a man who has a consistent history of anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-union policies.
Democratic source, upon hearing news that John Kasich, the former conservative Ohio governor, might speak at the De… https://t.co/yeHGEEcxtF
On Monday evening, Kasich spoke for nearly four minutes while progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will only be allowed one minute on Tuesday evening. Kasich has also openly criticised AOC, saying that just because she “gets outsized publicity doesn't mean she represents the Democratic Party.”
Ocasio-Cortez shot back saying the obvious: “Something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.”
Portraying Kasich as some sort of saintly 'Republican moderate with a backbone' only normalises and promotes his quiet, yet vast highly-conservative policy record.
“The people in Ohio who know him are stunned that he has been allowed to get away with calling himself a moderate,” said Sandy Theis, executive director of the liberal think-tank Progress Ohio told The Guardian in 2016, during his presidential run.
Later as governor, he voted to effectively fully de-fund Planned Parenthood, which prohibited entities from accessing public health funding for domestic violence prevention, breast cancer screening, HIV/AIDS treatment, etc.
In 2013, his policies in Ohio required that ultrasounds be performed to look for a heartbeat before an abortion could happen, even if they were not medically necessary.
Most recently in 2019, Kasich signed Senate Bill 145, which would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure. Physicians could face a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison for doing the procedure.
He's anti LGBTQ rights.
During his time in Congress, Kasich voted for the "Defense of Marriage Act," which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Also during this period, Kasich supported a ban on same-sex marriage in Ohio and stated that he did not approve of the "gay lifestyle."
While some say Kasich has since struck a more moderate tone compared to his Republican opponents, being "moderate" on a human rights issue is equally dangerous.
In June 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment, Kasich said that he was "obviously disappointed" and that he believes in "traditional marriage".
So why was a politician with Kasich's anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-union, anti-climate record given a platform by a supposedly progressive party?
This feels like a very clear betrayal of the values held by many in the coalition of voters Biden and Harris hope will win them the election.
It is important to add that many progressive voters feel uncomfortable with Biden's past "tough on crime" record and Harris's former "top cop" persona.
And similarly Kasich has expressed frustration with the current state of his party, telling CNN's 'State of the Union' last year:
"I'm still a Republican. I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me."
But this is a deflection of personal responsibility, coupled with an erasure the harm his party has created up until this point.
And the Democratic party shouldn't be helping in this process, given Kasich's extreme record.
Perhaps it's relevant that Kasich, unlike most of his Republican peers, acknowledges that Trump has – to put it mildly – gone way too far.
There's a difference between welcoming former Republican voters to the anti-Trump resistance, and rolling out the red carpet for people like Kasich who actively laid the groundwork this awful chapter in American history.