President Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich traded jabs on Twitter a week after Ohio’s 12th District special election ended too close to call.
Both Republicans pushed for the election of Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson on August 7, to fill a congressional seat left open by former Rep. Pat Tiberi. The 12th District has been controlled by the GOP for almost four decades, including for 18 years by Kasich himself.
Trump skewered Kasich on Monday as a "very unpopular" governor who hurt Balderson’s race against Democrat Danny O'Connor by "tamping down enthusiasm for an otherwise great candidate."
The very unpopular Governor of Ohio (and failed presidential candidate) @JohnKasich hurt Troy Balderson’s recent win by tamping down enthusiasm for an otherwise great candidate. Even Kasich’s Lt. Governor lost Gov. race because of his unpopularity. Credit to Troy on the BIG WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
After election night, Balderson held a lead of just over 1,500 votes – a surprisingly tight margin in a district that elected Trump by 11 points. Despite O'Connor not conceding the race, Trump last week proclaimed a “great victory” and gave himself credit for Balderson’s “big turn for the better.”
When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2018
Kasich countered Trump's tweet on Monday with a meme of Russian President Vladimir Putin laughing. He called Trump's tweet "laughably inaccurate" in a subsequent fundraising pitch.
Kasich, a frequent critic of the president, earlier questioned whether Trump's last-minute rally for Balderson would hurt his chances. Kasich was late to endorse Balderson, who also enjoyed in-person appearances from Vice President Mike Pence.
Contrary to Trump's claim, Kasich remains popular in Ohio. Even PolitiFact, the nonpartisan fact-checking website, chimed in to label Trump's statement "false." According to PolitiFact, Kasich has an approval rating of 52 percent, including a 57 percent approval among Democrats.
Kasich said last week that the close race was bad news for Republicans.
"There's no question that people sent a message to the party, to Republican to knock it off," Kasich said.
PolitiFact also was skeptical of Trump's claim that Kasich negatively influenced the 12th District election.
Balderson leads O'Connor in unofficial results by less than a percentage point, and there are still more than 8,400 absentee and provisional ballots still outstanding. The Associated Press hasn't called the race.
Official election results are expected August 24.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.