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Story highlights

"I wish that I could be fully enthusiastic. I can't be," Kasich said.

Kasich also praised prominent Republicans whom Donald Trump has declined to endorse

(CNN) —  

John Kasich says he’s no closer to endorsing Donald Trump for president, cementing his place as one of the most prominent holdouts in the Republican Party.

Kasich, the governor of Ohio, a state that Trump almost certainly must win to take the White House, said he didn’t know how he would vote in November.

“I wish that I could be fully enthusiastic. I can’t be,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “So I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end.”

Kasich has long withheld his support of Trump following a bitter primary fight. In June, he told Fox News, “Why would I feel compelled to support someone whose positions I kind of fundamentally disagree with?”

The Ohio governor also said he watched the Democratic convention speech delivered by the grieving father of a fallen Muslim US soldier, who attacked Trump from the dais, prompting Trump to engage in a multi-day feud with the Khan family. Kasich recalled his time spent comforting those killed overseas, saying he meets frequently with Ohio families who lose a child in combat and that is his job to comfort them.

“I’ve seen the black hole. I’ve had the deep mourning and the pain,” Kasich said. “But here’s what I know: I believe the Scripture when it says those who give up their life, or serve someone else, will wear a big crown. That their service is marked in the book of life, never to be erased.”

The Ohio governor is spending his fall campaigning for down-ballot candidates. Trump raised questions about his support for those running with him in an interview this week, when he initially held back on endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan, Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte in their primary elections.

Kasich deemed that decision “bizarre” and praised each of them, particularly McCain.

“As far as I’m concerned, McCain shouldn’t even have to run for election in the Senate. He ought to be in the Senate as long as he wants to be,” Kasich said. “I’m going to go out there, I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to go out there and help McCain.”