This is big.
Ever since the New York primary, Ted Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from winning the Republican nomination outright. Given this, scooping up as many anti-Trump delegates in the upcoming primaries and caucuses is more critical than it’s ever been.
Sunday evening, the Cruz campaign made a joint-announcement with the Kasich campaign, saying that they will be working together–at least for a short time–to keep Donald Trump from accumulating the necessary delegates to reach a majority by convention time.
From Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager:
“Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans. Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation.
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. In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win.”
From John Weaver, chief strategist for Kasich:
“Donald Trump doesn’t have the support of a majority of Republicans – not even close, but he currently does have almost half the delegates because he’s benefited from the existing primary system. Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the Party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee. We believe that will be John Kasich, who is the only candidate who can defeat Secretary Clinton and preserve our GOP majority in the Congress.
Due to the fact that the Indiana primary is winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district, keeping Trump from winning a plurality in Indiana is critical to keeping him under 1237 bound delegates before Cleveland. 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.
In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon, both areas that are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well. We would expect independent third-party groups to do the same and honor the commitments made by the Cruz and Kasich campaigns.
We expect to compete with both the Trump and Cruz campaigns in the remaining primary states.”
Here are my takeaways from this development:
Begrudging cordiality has turned into a necessary partnership. There’s an episode of Seinfeld in which mortal enemies Jerry and Newman join forces in order to achieve a common goal.
The Jerry/Newman alliance is exactly what’s happening between Cruz and Kasich. Now that both men have been mathematically eliminated from achieving a majority on the first ballot, they are, by necessity, joining forces to make sure the only man who can win doesn’t win.
Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have different visions for America. Ted Cruz is a strict constitutionalist, who values limited government and personal liberty above all else. John Kasich, on the other hand, is a “big R” Republican. In other words, an establishment-esque governor who has some conservative ideals.
Neither candidate likes or adheres to the other’s ideology, but there are areas in which their ideologies overlap. The most important area in which their goals align is the desire to stop Donald Trump.
Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich know that to nominate Donald Trump would be the end of the Republican Party. They both agree that Trump is a dangerous authoritarian, whose shifting sands policy and breathtaking ignorance of critical issues could devastate the party, and, if he’s elected, the United States. And both candidates still want to win the nomination. In that sense, nothing has changed.
Notice in both campaign statements, the candidates indicate their intense desire to win, with Kasich’s saying he’s the candidate to beat Hillary, and Cruz’s saying he’ll “compete vigorously to win” in following states. Also take note of the fact that the only states mentioned by either statement are Indiana, New Mexico, and Oregon.
This is the ultimate strategic move to do what both men think will save the country from Trump, whom they believe will be an irreversibly destructive nominee.
Now, that being said, Trump will try to use this to his advantage. He’ll come out swinging on every news show, and say this is proof positive that “lyin’ Ted Cruz” is indeed the establishment–which is just the most recent argument he’s been making to discredit the Texas senator.
Trump’s cultists will spread that message across the Internet faster than, well, Trump cultists spreading a message across the Internet. It will be a clarion call for Trump supporters to mobilize.
However, anyone who’s done their research knows that Ted Cruz is about as far from “establishment” as anyone can be. In fact, Trump is more of an insider than Ted Cruz, given his monetary and business dealings with politicians over the last several decades.
Fear not. Despite Trump’s inevitable yelling, and the intense amplification his tantrum will receive from his acolytes, Ted Cruz is still the principled leader we have come to know. You know that. I know that. He’s simply doing what needs to be done in order to make sure Trump loses on the first ballot.
Cruz loves this country, and he refuses to see it trashed by Trump; he refuses to allow Hillary and her media lovers to fool Americans into believing that Donald Trump’s vision represents real constitutional conservatism. At this point, strategizing with rival Kasich is the best option on the table.
After the first ballot, however, the fighting will begin, and Cruz likely believes (as I do) that he will win. He has a massive number of bound delegates behind him, as well as a slew of delegates who, after the first vote, will jump the Trump ship, and turn to him.
Perhaps Kasich is hoping for a VP slot, or perhaps he believes, like Cruz, that he can win at the convention. Regardless, it appears that his priority at this point is to stop Trump, and the best way to do that is to cede Indiana to Cruz, and focus on New Mexico and Oregon.
There’s going to be a lot of media hype and speculation about this announcement. In the end, it simply boils down to Ted Cruz (whom I’ve endorsed) and John Kasich doing what is absolutely necessary to stop a runaway train.
Jerry and Newman may have hated each other, but when circumstance threw them together, they did what was necessary (if uncomfortable) to get the job done.