Kasich Is Last Man Standing Against Trump

Kasich Is Last Man Standing Against Trump
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John Kasich remains in the presidential race, despite having a virtually non-existent path against Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee after his decisive win in Indiana on Tuesday.

Trump won the Hoosier State by a double-digit margin, netting nearly all of the delegates (two districts remain too close to call) and causing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign. Despite Kasich coming in a distant third, his campaign insisted the Ohio governor plans to fight on.  

"Our party is facing a clear choice between positive solutions that can win in November and a darker path that will solve nothing and lead to Hillary Clinton in the White House, a Democrat Senate and a liberal Supreme Court,” Kasich Campaign Manager John Weaver said in a statement following Cruz’s announcement. “As long as it remains possible, Governor Kasich will fight for the higher path. Ted Cruz ran a strong campaign, stood for conservative principles and exposed a lot about Donald Trump. Governor Kasich will continue to campaign and offer the voters a clear choice for our country."

The chances of preventing Trump from winning enough delegates to secure the nomination are slim. Kasich has not won a primary since his home-state victory in mid-March, and trails both Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio in the delegate count even though Rubio dropped out of the race six weeks ago. 

Still, Weaver’s argument remains the same as it has been since Kasich’s victory in the Buckeye State: that general election polls that show him as the best match-up against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and that delegates will back Kasich at a contested convention in Cleveland. Still, the odds of a contested convention fell to nearly zero with Trump’s Indiana victory and Cruz’s departure from the race.

Plus, the party is beginning to rallying behind Trump.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted shortly after Cruz’s speech that the business mogul is the likely nominee, ignoring Kasich’s continued primary bid.  

“@realDonaldTrump will be presumptive @GOP nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton,” he wrote.

Trump, in his victory speech Tuesday night, thanked Priebus and complimented him for managing the 17 candidates who began the primary – and alluded to Kasich’s decision to stay in, though without mentioning him by name.

“I guess he’s down to one,” Trump said of Priebus and the Republican candidates. “I don’t know, is there a second? I don’t know. We’ll have to ask you folks to explain the status of that.”

Other Republicans agreed that Cruz’s departure from the primary put the writing on the wall for the two-term governor and former congressman.

“Kasich’s path to the nomination is non-existent,” said Reed Galen, a Republican strategist and veteran of both George W. Bush’s and John McCain’s presidential campaigns. “He can stay in because he has the resources to do so, but he will go home after June 7th, give a speech at the convention and finish his term as governor.”

The upcoming primaries aren’t necessarily fertile ground for Kasich to make up his significant delegate deficit. Nebraska and West Virginia vote next week, and while there has been limited public polling in Nebraska, a poll last week in West Virginia showed Trump with 61 percent support, Cruz with 21 percent and Kasich with only 10, leaving him significantly behind even if all of Cruz’s supporters moved to his side.

The next two primaries are in Oregon (May 17) , where a recent poll showed Trump with a double-digit lead, though Kasich could cut into that significantly if Cruz’s supporters switched to back him, and Washington (May 24), where there is little public polling.

The final slate  of primaries takes place on June 7, with states including New Jersey, where Trump is expected to win by a significant margin, and delegate-rich California, where Trump has been consistently leading in polls. Overall, the front-runner’s path to the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination is clear and extremely difficult to block.

Still, Weaver was insistent that Kasich is in it to the end.   

“The future of the Republican Party and America is at stake,” he wrote. “Gov. Kasich will not simply give up.”

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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