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“Clown Car Race Heading Into Its Final Laps”: A Last-Ditch Effort From Cruz And Kasich To Stop Trump

As I noted after last week’s New York primary, neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich can win the Republican nomination via delegates earned in the primaries. This is the point at which you would expect that candidates in that position would drop out of the race. But this is also the first time such a move would result in the nomination of someone like Donald Trump. So Kasich and Cruz aren’t about to ride off into the sunset. Instead, the two of them have joined forces in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump.

In order to understand their plan, it’s important to note that – because the delegates won to date have been spread between so many candidates – Trump still faces an uphill battle to win the nomination outright in the remaining primaries. The statement put out by the Kasich campaign is the most direct in laying out their attempt to stop him from being able to do that.

Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the Party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee. We believe that will be John Kasich, who is the only candidate who can defeat Secretary Clinton and preserve our GOP majority in the Congress.

Due to the fact that the Indiana primary is winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district, keeping Trump from winning a plurality in Indiana is critical to keeping him under 1237 bound delegates before Cleveland. We are very comfortable with our delegate position in Indiana already, and given the current dynamics of the primary there, we will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana.

In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon, both areas that are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well. We would expect independent third-party groups to do the same and honor the commitments made by the Cruz and Kasich campaigns.

The Cruz campaign issued a similar statement.

This all sounds similar to Jeb Bush’s attempt to negotiate a deal back in March (after he was out of the race) to stop Trump. In retrospect, it looks like Marco Rubio was on board with that one (his last hope before dropping out), but Kasich and Cruz never really committed to the plan. Now they don’t have any other option.

Trump responded as expected.

“Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are,” he said in the statement. “Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged.”

I guess he doesn’t have as much appreciation for the “art of the deal” as he continually suggests. This clown car race is heading into its final laps. But it’s very possible that we won’t know which one is the last clown standing until they get to Cleveland in July.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 25, 2016

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, John Kasich, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Touting His Theoretical Appeal”: Does John Kasich Have A Strategy, Or Is He Just Meandering Around The Country?

Theoretically, one of the “winners” in New York Tuesday night was Ohio governor John Kasich, who won somewhere between three and six delegates (his first pledged delegates in close to a month) with about a fourth of the vote. Yeah, Trump beat him about 30 to 1 in delegates and by 35 points in the popular vote, but Kasich finished comfortably ahead of Ted Cruz, who’s been trying to define Kasich right out of the race as a hopeless loser.

So Kasich’s long-shot candidacy gets a bit of a reprieve, despite Trump’s perilous progress toward a first-ballot victory that would make both Kasich and Cruz bystanders in Cleveland. What’s Kasich’s strategy for helping avoid that disaster and making himself the ultimate choice of an open convention?

That’s hard to say. A thorough exploration of the Kasich campaign by Bloomberg‘s Mark Niquette earlier this week didn’t reveal any big, clear targets in the upcoming primaries, and certainly didn’t indicate the kind of coordination with Cruz — overt or telepathic — you’d expect from a campaign that needs to block Trump and draw a series of inside straights to stay in the game. Instead, the idea seems to be to show a pulse by picking up “100 to 150” delegates somewhere in the country, while working behind the scenes to harangue actual and prospective delegates with promising general-election polls in the hopes they will come around to Kasich in Cleveland. If there is a realization that picking up those token window-dressing primary delegates in places like Indiana and California could wind up helping Trump reach his goals, the Kasich people are being awfully quiet about it.

Worse yet, as RealClearPolitics’ Rebecca Berg shows in a devastating bit of reporting today, Team Kasich isn’t doing a lot to get people already sold on him into a position to nominate him on a later ballot.

While representatives for Donald Trump and particularly Ted Cruz have maintained a visible presence at the state and congressional district meetings where many delegates are being selected, often identifying and rallying behind a slate of their preferred candidates, Kasich’s organization has been weak or nonexistent. As a result, only a small share of the delegates selected thus far would favor Kasich on a second or subsequent ballot at an open convention.

Berg notes a particularly embarrassing no-show for the Kasich campaign in Virginia:

At the 10th Congressional District convention in Ashburn, Va., last weekend, rows of Trump and Cruz yard signs lined the parking lot, while volunteers for each campaign distributed lists of their preferred delegates. The district, which backed Sen. Marco Rubio, would have been fertile ground for Kasich to try to pick up support.

But there were no Kasich yard signs, and no volunteers distributing delegate slates. Not one would-be delegate expressed support for the Ohio governor. One prominent Kasich supporter, former Rep. Tom Davis, did attend the convention; he thought there would be opportunities to sway delegates friendly to Cruz or Trump, but on this day he showed no signs of trying to persuade them to Kasich’s cause. Ultimately, supporters of Cruz won the three delegate slots.

This dynamic has played out repeatedly across the country.

It sometimes seems the Kasich campaign believes in a sort of rhetorical enchantment whereby assertions of success are all that matters. It claims deep wells of support among Indiana’s newly elected (but not yet pledged) delegates. But Berg can find no evidence they’ve even contacted these people.

“The Kasich campaign didn’t ask me who I was for, so I don’t know who they’re talking to,” said one Indiana delegate, Mike Murphy, who is uncommitted to any candidate for a second ballot. “How can they declare victory?”

Having declared victory, however, Kasich will now almost certainly expend some effort to avoid embarrassment in Indiana’s May 3 primary, whether or not that makes sense strategically.

If Kasich doesn’t clumsily help Trump to a first-ballot nomination, though, it seems his wizards think his electability argument will sweep all before it in Cleveland. Niquette harvested this quote from Kasich’s prize consultant, Charlie Black:

Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist advising Kasich who worked on Ronald Reagan’s delegate-wrangling operation at the contested Republican convention in 1976, said Kasich doesn’t necessarily need that popular support, or even to win another state primary, to be the nominee.

“A lot of primary voters don’t care about electability, but delegates will,” Black said.

Maybe, but a lot of delegates also care about what primary voters think, and make judgments about a candidates’ electability based not just on dubious early polls but on how effective they are during the nomination contest. As John Kasich aimlessly wanders around the country touting his theoretical appeal, he is illustrating his lack of actual appeal. And that will likely be his undoing.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 20, 2016

April 23, 2016 Posted by | GOP Convention, GOP Primaries, John Kasich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Kasich Is Sometimes His Own Worst Enemy”: An Amateur, Especially When Talking To And About Women

In a year in which Republican voters have gravitated towards amateurs, John Kasich offers extensive political experience. The Ohio Republican has run two winning gubernatorial campaigns, which followed nine successful congressional campaigns and some state legislative races in one of the nation’s largest states. A rookie he isn’t.

And yet, Kasich has an unfortunate habit of sounding like an amateur, especially when talking to and about women. Slate’s Christina Cauterucci reported today:

At a Watertown, New York, town hall on Friday, John Kasich advised a female college student to steer clear of “parties where there’s a lot of alcohol” to keep from getting raped, assaulted, or sexually harassed.

His comment came after a first-year student from New York’s St. Lawrence University asked the GOP presidential candidate and Ohio governor, “What are you going to do in office as president to help me feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape?”

The governor initially responded by talking about confidential reporting mechanisms and access to rape kits, before telling the young woman, “I’d also give you one bit of advice: Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

The problem with such a response should be obvious. If a woman goes to a gathering and gets assaulted, it’s insane to think it’s her fault for having gone to a party where people were drinking. The solution is for men to stop committing sex crimes; encouraging women to make different choices in their social habits badly misses the point.

As news of his comments spread, Kasich turned to Twitter to make clear his belief that “only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that’s the assailant.”

In the broader context, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind.

The first is that incidents like these keep coming up on the campaign trail. Remember the time Kasich asked a woman, unprompted, “Have you ever been on a diet?”

In October, a college student tried to ask Kasich a question about undocumented immigrants, but when the young woman raised her hand at a forum, the governor told her, “I don’t have any tickets for, you know, for Taylor Swift or anything.”

According to the report from the college newspaper, the Republican presidential candidate told another young woman at the event, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties.”

A few months later, Kasich told a Virginia audience that, during one of his early statehouse races, women “left their kitchens” to support him.

Remember, this guy has literally spent decades on the campaign trail, honing his communications skills with the public.

The other angle is that Kasich hasn’t just made insulting comments about women, the governor has taken a series of policy steps that undermine women’s health options as part of a conservative culture war.

I realize that in the GOP’s 2016 field, Kasich is seen as the “moderate” Republican with broad appeal, but given the circumstances, I’m afraid that probably says more about the govenror’s rivals than his own qualities.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2016

April 19, 2016 Posted by | John Kasich, Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Johnny Strikes Up The Band”: If You Didn’t Know Any Better, You’d Think Kasich Was Indeed A Moderate

The most fascinating news coming out of the 2016 Republican National Convention might not be the struggle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination. It might be the prominent role that Ohio Governor and stealth radical John Kasich plays at the confab in Cleveland.

A case can be made that Kasich, the Boy Wonder of Wingnuttery, is actually the most dangerous of the three remaining Republicans running for the White House. Kasich has both Donald Trump’s extensive media training and Ted Cruz’s devotion to dogmatism: while he might not have a shot at the Republican nomination this time around, he stands an frighteningly good chance of being the GOP nominee four years from now if Trump (or Cruz) fails on November 8.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kasich is chosen to be the keynote speaker; he will certainly provide a moment of calm in an otherwise contentious convention. He’ll also be running a long con.

If chosen as the keynote speaker, Kasich will deliver a sentimental speech, syrupy but not excessively so, urging Republicans to come together and embrace an uplifting, optimistic vision for the future. He will be “surprisingly” gentle in his criticisms of President Obama and the Democratic nominee. He will make full use of his formidable rhetorical gifts to make the case to viewers that the “real” Republican Party is compassionate, conscious and charitable.

It will all be a scam designed to convince gullible viewers that there are still signs of rationality in the GOP–and that Kasich represents old-school Eisenhower Republicanism. The idea is simple: if they lose with Trump or Cruz on Election Day, “establishment” Republicans will take advantage of whatever public goodwill Kasich generates as a result of his convention speech to promote the idea that only he can guarantee a GOP victory in 2020.

This gambit could work. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Kasich was indeed a moderate, reasonable Republican; when it comes to portraying such a mythical figure on the stage of American politics, Kasich’s acting is so good it rivals Brando in his prime. If I didn’t know any better, I’d buy a used car from this man.

Yet those of us who know better know the real John Kasich–the cold and cynical heart that beats in his chest, the conservative mendacity in his calculating mind. Kasich talks one heck of a moderate game, but make no mistake: he’s the wingnuts’ warrior.

Kasich may emerge as the real star of the 2016 Republican National Convention. He may convince casual political observers that he’s an honorable man, one who just might deserve the presidency if voters are dissatisfied with Democrats in 2020. He might be able to fool just enough people to make him the 46th president on January 20, 2021. The only question is: if that happens, how long will it take for those who were fooled to smarten up?


By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 17, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, John Kasich, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just A Crumpled Up Little Ball Of Paper”: The Night Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, And John Kasich Killed The RNC Pledge

Around 9:36 p.m. on Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin, the Republican National Committee loyalty pledge was pronounced dead.

It was killed by the combined efforts of three men, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, all of whom all but confirmed that they would rather leap in front of a speeding train than support each other for president.

Trump was the most upfront about it when asked during CNN’s town hall. “No, I won’t,” the candy corn-headed frontrunner said when asked by Anderson Cooper if he would promise to back the eventual nominee. “[Cruz] was essentially saying the same thing. He doesn’t have to support me.”

For months, Trump has complained that he has been treated unfairly by the Republican Party and the media and those who don’t support him. He reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, offering, “I’ve been treated very unfairly” as his main reason for giving any other possible GOP nominee his stubby little finger.

Cruz, as has been his penchant of late, demurred once again when asked about his support for another nominee. “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife, who attacks my family,” he answered, referring to someone other than John Kasich.

That, of  course, was not an answer to the question.

“Let me tell you my solution to that: Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee,” was Cruz’s response to the second attempt at the question.

But the third time he must have gotten it right. Right?

“I gave you my answer,” the senator from Texas said of the man who has recently spent some of his time online mocking Cruz’s wife.

When asked about those responses after the town hall, Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Cruz, just repeated his initial answer: “Sen Cruz said he does not make a habit of supporting people who attack his wife.”

That left Kasich, the supposed man of reason in the Republican race, the nice guy just trying to run an honest campaign.

“Maybe I won’t answer it, either,” the Ohio governor joked, the wrinkles from his cheeks touching his ears. Kasich added that he has “respect for people that are in the arena” but also said he’d been “disturbed” by some stuff he had seen on the trail. And he wasn’t referring to the thing that fell out of Cruz’s mouth during a debate.

“I don’t want to be political here: I’ve got to see what happens,” he concluded.

Both the Kasich and Trump campaigns have not responded to a request for additional comment from The Daily Beast. Neither has RNC communications director Sean Spicer.

The pledge was dreamed up in September by the RNC to try to keep Trump from jumping ship and running as an independent candidate. Little did they know that he would become their presumptive nominee.

“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” the pledge read. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

It took Trump approximately 24 hours to call a press conference, where he held up the piece of paper like Simba on Pride Rock, proudly declaring: “The best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge.”

Oh, how things have changed.

Five months after signing, Trump hinted at potentially running separately from the Republican ticket, claiming that the RNC hadn’t held up its side of the bargain. His two gripes? That establishment donors had packed the rafters to boo him at recent debates and that (Lyin’) Ted Cruz had questioned Trump’s past positions on guns and abortion.

But Trump steeled away and stuck it out!

For another month.

And then, just like that, the pledge died.


By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Loyalty Pledge, John Kasich, Republican National Committee, Ted Cruz | , , , , | 3 Comments

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