In one of the latest strategies from a Republican establishment trying to find the right combination of factors to stop presidential candidate Donald Trump, subtle and public pressure is being applied to convince Ohio Gov. John Kasich to drop out of the race.
The concept is that with fewer candidates, Trump foes will outnumber his loyalists and Trump will not win the nomination
There’s one problem: Kasich isn’t going away.
“I’m going to stay in for a long time,” Kasich said. “I’m going all the way.”
In keeping with the tongue-in-cheek tone Kasich often projects, his communications director sent a tweet Thursday calling on another mainstream candidate to quit.
For others, it’s not a laughing matter as the establishment tries to coalesce votes behind Sen. Marco Rubio.
“I think it is not helpful to have more than one mainstream candidate in this race,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican fundraiser,
“If at some point John were to decide not to go forward with his campaign, Marco would be the primary beneficiary of that decision,” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. “It’s not for me or anyone else to say when John should stay in or get out but … John’s decision to stay in or get out could have a marked impact on the race.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who endorsed Rubio earlier this week, said Kasich’s exit would help Rubio.
“It would be, but that’s up to John and John’s got every right to stay in the race,” Hatch said. “But sooner or later, it’s got to come down to Marco if people really look at it carefully.”
Polls in the upcoming Super Tuesday voting show Kasich trailing. However, Kasich’s home state of Ohio votes March 15. If Kasich were to win the winner-take-all contest, he would amass 66 delegates.
“They thought we would have a nominee by some point in March. This is going to be a race that’s going to go much deeper into the calendar,” Kasich strategist John Weaver told reporters Saturday. “The Kasich brand of being uplifting and inclusive, of having a conservative reform agenda that can be enacted and can be positive is a growing force in national politics.
“We do believe that it will be a one-on-one race with Donald Trump.”
As the establishment pushes Kasich, he is pushing back. He recently told a crowd at George Mason University that he’s bucking the establishment.
“I’m not gonna shut something down because a bunch of people in the inner city of Washington who frankly never liked me from the beginning are going to tell me what I’m gonna do,” Kasich said.
“I think it’s funny. I think it’s ridiculous,” he said when asked about efforts to nudge him to the sidelines. “I don’t take orders from K Street, from inner rooms, from lobbyists, I’ve challenged the establishment my whole career.”