It looked good on paper, but Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s fresh effort to unite Republican voters against frontrunner Donald Trump showed signs of splintering less than 24 hours after their alliance was first announced.
Cruz’s and Kasich’s campaigns announced Sunday that they were joining forces in an effort to block Trump from securing the GOP nomination, with each candidate focusing on states he views his best chances for victory: Cruz in Indiana and Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.
The announcement was met with a sigh of “finally” from anti-Trump forces. For his part, the billionaire, quickly condemned the highly-publicized partnership as “collusion.”
Cruz trumpeted the newly-forged alliance on conservative talk radio, saying it was “very significant Kasich is pulling out of Indiana.” He also characterized the move as a simple shift in the allocation of resources, which he said made sense for both campaigns.
But speaking with reporters Monday, Kasich didn’t seem to have gotten the memo. He said he hadn’t told his supporters in Indiana to cast their ballots strategically.
“I’ve never told them not to vote for me, they ought to vote for me,” Kasich said. “But I’m not over there campaigning and spending resources. We have limited resources.”
John Weaver, a Kasich strategist, further muddied the waters by implying that voters implicitly understood their role in the broader plan.
We’re not telling voters who to vote for in IN, only where we are going to spend resources to ultimately defeat Hillary. They get it.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) April 25, 2016
Kasich’s apparent about-face didn’t escape Trump’s notice. He quickly slammed the governor on Twitter as a “typical politician” who couldn’t even hold up his end of a deal.
Not long afterward, Cruz dodged questions about whether his detente with Kasich amounted to “collusion.” Instead, he said of course Trump “will scream and yell and curse and insult” and stuck to his oft-repeated line about how no GOP contender will arrive in Cleveland for the convention with the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination outright.
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