INDIANAPOLIS– Ted Cruz is out, but John Kasich isn’t going anywhere, his camp said Tuesday night.
In an email to supporters, the Ohio governor’s presidential campaign hopped on the news that Cruz was throwing in the towel, meaning Kasich is the sole remaining primary competitor to front-runner Donald Trump.
“Sen. Ted Cruz just dropped out of the presidential race and it’s up to us to stop Trump and unify our party in time to defeat Hillary Clinton,” Kasich campaign manager Ben Hansen said in the email, which also asked supporters to donate money.
One Kasich adviser referenced a story The governor has told at various points during his lagging campaign. At one point during a governor’s race, former California governor, Hollywood star and Kasich supporter Arnold Schwarzenegger advised Kaisch to “love the beatings.” That, the adviser said, just how Kasich approaches the race. It’s something that has become even more important given the man who is now his lone opponent: Trump.
Cruz suspended his White House bid Tuesday, shortly after his drubbing in the Indiana primary. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus quickly declared Trump his party’s presumptive nominee.
John Weaver, Kasich’s chief strategist, took to Twitter to push back.
“Appreciate @Reince & his hard work for @GOP, but until someone has 1,237 bound delegates there is no presumptive nominee. CA here we come,” Weaver tweeted.
Kasich will now pitch himself as the lone alternative to what his advisers see as an immensely damaging election up and down the ballot for Republicans, one adviser said. Gone will be the unending focus on process an delegates, replaced by an elevated focus on the choice between the two candidates — a stark one, Kasich’s advisers say.
While the focus from here on out will be on Trump, there’s also an element of schadenfreude in Cruz’s Indiana loss: Cruz’s team (and Cruz himself) repeatedly ripped Kasich as a “spoiler” with no business in the race, who is only around for vanity reasons or someone who is angling to be Trump’s running mate.
Kasich and Cruz announced an agreement of sorts last week, that the two campaigns would split their resources in an effort to stop Trump, with Kasich focusing on Oregon and New Mexico and clearing a path in Indiana for Cruz. But that agreement frayed in public, as the campaigns struggled with the question of whether their supporters should vote for the other candidates in the pact.
A different Kasich adviser said their campaign is now hoping that the anti-Trump forces that coalesced behind Cruz in Indiana will now get behind him in key contests in California, and the remaining states before the convention.
“What would be nice would be to see the kind of third party money that was spent in Indiana spent in a Kasich state, that has yet to happen and as a result Trump keeps acquiring delegates he could otherwise been denied,” another Kasich adviser said.