Trump and Cruz urge Kasich to leave presidential race
Republicans rubbish Ohio governor’s chance of winning party nomination at convention
Holding a poster of Ted Cruz ahead of the primaries. Photograph: Joshua Lott/The New York Times
Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz urged struggling candidate, Ohio governor John Kasich, to drop out as they made final appeals in Wisconsin before the state votes on Tuesday.
Mr Kasich, who has just one state win under his belt and trails the billionaire and the Texas senator in the all-important tally of delegates, has acknowledged he cannot close the gap on his rivals and must rely on a contested party convention in July to win the nomination.
Mr Trump has argued that the Ohio governor remaining in the race hurts his chances of being named the Republican nominee, more than it damages Mr Cruz.
“If I didn’t have Kasich, I automatically win,” the property and entertainment mogul said at a rally in Wisconsin on Sunday.
The reality TV star raised the issue with the Republican National Committee officials at a meeting in Washington last week.
“I said, ‘Why is a guy allowed to run? All he’s doing is he goes from place to place, and loses and he keeps running’,” said Mr Trump.
“He doesn’t have to run and take my votes because he’s taking my votes; he’s not taking Cruz’s votes.”
Mr Trump repeated his attacks on the second-term governor on Monday, mocking Mr Kasich’s single state victory in the primary.
Joining the attack on the governor, Mr Cruz said that the idea of someone other than him or Mr Trump winning the nomination at a contested convention was “nothing less than a pipe dream”.
“I’m dropping in, not dropping out,” said the Ohio governor at a Wisconsin campaign event, defending his potential as the candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee in November’s election.
The Kasich camp believes that none of the three candidates can reach the majority of 1,237 delegates in the first ballot of state voting by the last primary on June 7th and that the contested convention will not be the civil-war battle some party officials fear.
“Kids will spend less time focusing on Bieber and Kardashian, and more time focusing on how we elected presidents – it will be so cool,” Mr Kasich told ABC News in an interview.
Wave of opposition
In such a scenario delegates can withdraw support and are free to vote for the nominee of choice in a fight on the convention floor.
In the Democratic primary, Ms Clinton, the frontrunner, and challenger Bernie Sanders are sparring over the timing of another televised debate before the New York primary on April 19th, a make-or-break moment for the Vermont socialist’s presidential hopes.
Mr Sanders, a native of Brooklyn, needs a big win over Ms Clinton in her home state, which she leads by a large margin, to keep his campaign alive. He wants a prime-time debate to push his case with voters.