News & Politics

Are Cruz, Kasich, Rubio Coordinating to Stop Trump?

Royal Shakespeare Company in William shakespeare's Julius Caesar directed by Gregory Doran at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford Upon Avon. (Express Newspapers via AP Images)

Marco Rubio’s campaign spokesman tells Ohio voters to pull the lever for Kasich. Ted Cruz is set to pull down ads in Florida. John Kasich has no scheduled events in Illinois, the other Midwestern state which votes on March 15. These are not the paranoid complaints of Donald Trump, but today’s headlines. Nevertheless, Rubio denied any such coordination in a statement to PJ Media today.

Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio seem to be forming a triumvirate — featuring two senators no less! — to knock Trump down on the Ides of March. In its endorsement of Cruz this morning, National Review revealed its disdain for Trump. The editors backed Cruz as “Republicans’ best chance for keeping their presidential nomination from going to someone with low character and worse principles.” It seems Kasich and Rubio might agree.

Yes, it is all happening. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush met privately with Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich around the debate in Miami on Thursday night.

Rubio’s communications director, Alex Conant, told Ohio voters to back Kasich on CNN this morning. “I’m just stating the obvious. If you are a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you want to beat Donald Trump, your best chance in Ohio is John Kasich.”

Kasich, who failed to get on the ballot in six congressional districts in Illinois, has no campaign events planned there, in the run-up to March 15. The Midwestern governor was expected to be competitive in states near Ohio, but lost the Michigan primary to both Trump and Cruz this past Tuesday.

Yesterday evening, CNN reported that Ted Cruz’s super PACs are pulling their Florida ads. “We’re no longer doing anti-Rubio ads in Florida, because it appears he can lose Florida all by himself,” Kellyanne Conway, president of the Keep the Promise cluster of super PACs, told CNN. “He doesn’t need our help.”

Kasich’s team seemed to concur. Spokesman Rob Nichols declared, “We were going to win in OH without his help, just as he’s going to lose in FL w/o ours.” These statements, while brash, seem to have an over-the-top quality to them which is foreign to Kasich’s campaign, albeit less so to Cruz’s. I am tempted to respond, “The lady doth protest too much.”

The CNN report revealed that Cruz’s PACs are planning to buy up to $3 million more in television ads in North Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois, the other states which vote on March 15. This adds to the $535,000 or more spent on digital ads in these three states, along with Ohio and Washington, D.C., which votes Saturday. Cruz’s PACs also spent $435,000 on radio in North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio.

Next Page: Rubio Explicitly Denies Coordinating with Kasich

Rubio denied any such coordination. He reiterated the message that only he can defeat Trump in Florida, saying, “Whether someone supports Ted Cruz or John Kasich, if you vote for them in Florida you’re in essence voting for Donald Trump.” He flatly declared, “I’ve never talked to John Kasich about this,” saying that it is merely “my observation” that Kasich presents the best chance to defeat Trump in Ohio.

Republican figures with various ties to the “establishment” have backed Cruz this week, including George W. Bush’s brother Neil and Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham has admitted that the party might need to coalesce behind Cruz to stop Trump. These may be the first signs of that movement.