Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Sunday laid out his strategy for overtaking frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to win the GOP presidential nomination this summer, and it pretty much hinges on a political wing and a prayer.
During appearances on several Sunday talk shows, Kasich -- who has thus far won just a single primary contest in his home state of Ohio – was adamant that Trump will come up short in the delegate count prior to the July national convention in Cleveland. Kasich predicted he will eventually garner the nomination in an open convention on the basis of his broad government experience and electability in a general election against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Unfazed by billionaire businessman Trump’s warnings of rioting by his supporters if he is denied the nomination, Kasich voiced boundless optimism that his experience in the House balancing the budget and reforming the Pentagon in the 1990s and as a successful governor of a major Midwestern industrial state will help him win.
“I think when they take a look at my record, both in Washington and Ohio with the job growth, the wage growth, reforming the Pentagon, and can understand I have the cross-over appeal, I think I will be picked,” Kasich said during an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation. “So, I don’t think anybody is going to get there with the delegates that they need to win.”
Kasich was highly dismissive of calls by both arch-conservatives and more establishment Republicans to drop out of the race so that Cruz, who has more delegates than Kasich, would have a better chance of overtaking Trump. For instance, Cruz would have a much better chance of winning Utah’s 40 delegates on Tuesday with Kasich out of the picture.
“Right now, every vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump,” Cruz told reporters over the weekend during intense campaigning in Arizona and Utah ahead of Tuesday’s primaries.
“Wait a minute. Why don’t they drop out?” Kasich snapped. “I’m the one who can win in the fall.”
Kasich said that it was both “inappropriate” and “outrageous” for Trump to suggest there would be riots if the party denied him the nomination this summer if he falls just shy of the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the nomination. “Leaders don't imply violence," Kasich told John Dickerson, host of Face the Nation.
“While we have our differences and disagreements, we're Americans,” Kasich said in response to a question about whether he thought Trump was actually fomenting violence. “Americans don't say, 'Let's take to the streets and have violence.'"
Trump was at it again on Sunday, downplaying any culpability he had in recent fist-fights at his campaign rallies and trying to explain why many of his supporters – including newcomers to the party attracted by his angry populist themes – might be motivated to riot if they thought he was being cheated out of the nomination.
“If you’re going to disenfranchise all of those people, some of whom have never voted before … I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can say this, we’re going to have a lot of very unhappy people,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week.
Trump so far has won 18 of the 30 GOP primary and caucus contests this year and has racked up 678 delegates – or little more than half of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. Cruz, the tea party conservative from Texas, has won eight contests and claimed 413 delegates. And Kasich is bringing up the rear with just one victory to his name and 143 delegates.
Trump warned that Republicans would almost certainly lose in November if the GOP “disenfranchises” all the people he has brought into the party during the primary contests.
But many in the party – including some mounting an “anybody but Trump” campaign or are contemplating supporting an independent, third-party candidate in the fall – hotly dispute Trump’s claim that he would be entitled to the nomination, even if he arrives at the convention several hundred delegates short of a majority.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who has remained neutral on the contest as Trump has exerted more influence over the party’s direction, said Sunday that the real estate magnate was not entitled to the nomination unless he can win a majority of the delegates.
“You to have a majority of the delegates in order to be the nominee,” Priebus said in an interview on This Week. “There’s nothing magical about the number. It’s 50 percent plus one.”
He added that “no one is disenfranchised” by the process, even if Trump ultimately loses the contest in a convention that goes beyond the first ballot. Voters are enfranchised because they are electing delegates to the national convention who are bound to their candidates on the first ballot. “That’s all it is,” he said.
When asked whether he can guarantee that the party’s nominee will be one of the three remaining candidates running now, Priebus replied: “I think it would be somewhat very unusual [if someone else ultimately was nominated], but I can’t 100 percent guarantee that.”