Election 2020

Cruz, Kasich Camps Agree on Primary Strategy to Stop Trump

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Bridgeport, Conn., on April 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

In statements released at the same time Sunday night, the campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich agreed that they’re ceding states to each other in the upcoming primaries to sap delegates from Donald Trump.

Kasich will back away from Indiana and allow Cruz to take votes there, while Cruz will back off from Oregon and New Mexico and allow Kasich to concentrate his efforts in those states.

Indiana voters go to the polls on May 3. Oregon votes May 17, and New Mexico votes June 7 — the day Trump’s camp claims he’ll seal up the nomination.

“Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans,” Cruz’s campaign manager Jeff Roe said. “Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation.”

“To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead,” Roe said. “In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win.”

Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, noted that Trump “doesn’t have the support of a majority of Republicans – not even close, but he currently does have almost half the delegates because he’s benefited from the existing primary system.”

“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,” Weaver continued.’

“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 1,237 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.”

Weaver said the Kasich team feels good about Oregon and New Mexico because both are “structurally similar to the Northeast politically.”

“We would expect independent third-party groups to do the same and honor the commitments made by the Cruz and Kasich campaigns,” he added. “We expect to compete with both the Trump and Cruz campaigns in the remaining primary states.”

The announcements were timed after the Sunday morning news shows, where Trump’s convention manager, Paul Manafort, told Fox News they are “running the campaign to win the votes on the first ballot and we’re going to and we’re going to win on the first ballot.”

“All of this party disruption that Cruz is causing, at the end of the day is only going to hurt the party, it’s not going to hurt Trump because he’s still going to be the votes cast on the first ballot and there’s going to be no second ballot, which will be very clear before the end — when the process is over on June 7,” Manafort said.

Voters go to the polls Tuesday in Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Trump rallied supporters Sunday in Hagerstown, Md., and has events Monday in Warwick, R.I., West Chester, Pa., and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Kasich has Monday stops in Philadelphia, Rockville, Md., and his birthplace, McKees Rocks, Pa. Cruz’s Monday is packed with four stops in Indiana.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m. EST: Trump tweeted his reaction to the news.