Cruz, Kasich join forces in bid to stop Trump
Both campaigns strike agreement to stop Trump
BORDEN, IND. • Donald Trump’s two remaining Republican presidential opponents campaigned Monday on a united stop-Trump theme after striking an agreement to divvy up three states holding primaries in the coming weeks — an unusual and urgent arrangement aimed at stopping the mogul from clinching the GOP nomination on the first ballot.
Ted Cruz of Texas and John Kasich released written statements within minutes of each other Sunday night calling for Kasich to stop competing in Indiana and for Cruz to clear the way for Kasich in New Mexico and Oregon.
Speaking to reporters here in Borden before a Monday rally, Cruz said it was “big news today that John Kasich has decided to pull out of Indiana to give us a head-to-head contest with Donald Trump.” He said the division of resources in key primary states “made sense from both campaigns.”
The deal marked the most significant collaboration between anti-Trump forces yet. It came as Trump stood on the verge of another week of sweeping victories, with five Eastern states where he is favoured to win set to vote Tuesday. It sparked swift condemnation from the front-runner, who accused his rivals of “collusion in order to stay alive.”
In recent weeks, Cruz had vehemently rejected the idea of cutting a deal to outflank Trump, and has criticized Kasich’s continued presence in the race despite winning only his home state. But after Trump’s commanding win in New York last week, there is growing anxiety among his critics that a win by the mogul in Indiana could devastate their efforts to stop him. Kasich and Cruz are trying to trigger a contested Republican convention in Cleveland, where they could dump Trump on a second ballot.
The deal was discussed in a private meeting last week between Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe and Kasich chief strategist John Weaver in Hollywood, Fla., on the sidelines of the Republican National Committee meeting, said a source with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead,” Roe said in a statement.
A few moments later, Weaver issued a statement saying: “We are very comfortable with our delegate position in Indiana already, and given the current dynamics of the primary there, we will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana.”
Trump issued a statement Monday saying: “Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are.”