One day after he came in last in three out of four nominating contests and pundits pondered a race between Sen. Ted Cruz and billionaire Donald Trump, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeared on two Sunday talk shows send a message: It isn’t over yet.
“We continue to pick up delegates,” Kasich insisted on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on ABC. “We’ve now moved more to my territory.”
Kasich, who has currently amassed 35 delegates, is banking on two quickly approaching dates: March 8, when Michigan and other states will collectively distribute 150 GOP delegates, and March 15, when Ohio and Florida have winner-take-all contests and in all, 367 delegates are at stake. The GOP nominee will need 1,237 delegates to win.
After that, Kasich is predicting something that hasn’t happened for Republicans since 1948 – a brokered convention. Gerald Ford entered 1976 without enough delegates to secure the nomination, but ultimately prevailed on the first ballot.
Kasich said such a convention “will be very cool,” and assured Stephanopoulos that a brokered convention would not, in fact, split the Republican Party apart.
“I think at the end of the day, the Republican Party is a reflection of the nominee,” he said. “We’ll bring the party together. I really don’t worry about that.”
In the meantime, there are two more election days to prepare for. Kasich has devoted significant time and campaign resources to Michigan, and he was encouraged by a recent American Research Group poll that found him leading Trump 33 percent to 31 percent. But that poll is far from universal. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Sunday morning had Trump at 41, Cruz at 22, Rubio at 17 and Kasich at 13. “You’re not closing the gap,” said Stephanopoulos.
“We’re going to have a good result out of Michigan,” said Kasich, comparing the Midwestern contests to “March Madness.” “I will win Ohio, and it’ll be a whole new ballgame and I’ll be able to compete in a lot of these states.”
Currently, Trump has 382 delegates, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 300 and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has 128, according to the Associated Press.
Kasich virtually guaranteed a victory in Ohio, where 66 delegates are at stake, calling the state “the gravitational center of the political universe.”
Appearing on Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox, Kasich said he was prepared to campaign hard in the meantime, but predicted “I think it’s going be an interesting time in Cleveland.”
He said he had a “home court advantage” in Ohio, and insisted he would also do well in other later-voting states, such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“We’re just going to keep plugging,” he said, “and hopefully get to Cleveland in a good strong position.”
On ABC, Kasich disputed Stephanopoulos’ theory that Kasich’s strategy was as a “spoiler” for Trump, saying he was running because he has “the record and the vision to run the United States of America.”
“We’re not running for class president,” he said. “This is not Valentine’s Day, where we stuff the ballot box, okay?”
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