John Kasich Strategist Wanted A Contested Convention Four Years Ago

Ohio Governor John Kasich gives a thumbs up at the Ohio Republican Party celebration, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. Kasich coasted to re-election by defeating Cleveland Democrat Ed FitzGerald amid early indications turnout was low across the state. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/AP

John Kasich’s new top strategist, Stu Spencer, wanted a contested Republican convention in 2012.

“We need a donnybrook of a convention,” Spencer told Real Clear Politics in early March 2012, at exactly around this point in the primary process. At the time, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were battling to reach the majority threshold for delegates, and Spencer thought that the convention could be brokered to deny them both the nod.

Spencer is one of many establishment GOP people readying for a convention fight that would reject Donald Trump’s bid for the nomination. For example, Romney’s top 2012 strategist, Stuart Stevens, is also trying to persuade various GOP leaders and groups to force a contested convention.

In 2012, Real Clear Politics reported:

Spencer says that if neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum goes to the Republican convention in Tampa with sufficient delegates to be nominated, their supporters might unite on an outsider nominee because they share the common goal of “beating Obama.”…

…[Bill] Roberts and Spencer were tagged as moderates after the Rockefeller campaign, but two years later signed up with the conservative Reagan, then an underdog, and managed his successful campaign for California governor. Spencer, by then on his own, stuck with President Ford in 1976 and played a key role in derailing Reagan’s challenge for the nomination. He was back with Reagan in 1980, brought into the campaign by Nancy Reagan at a time it was faltering. The rest, as they say, is history.

Spencer’s efforts to stop Ronald Reagan in 1976 are now being touted by the Kasich campaign. Team Kasich announced that Spencer was joining the campaign’s National Strategy Council immediately after Kasich won the Ohio primary Tuesday night. The Kasich team’s press release played up the Ford ’76 bit:

Stu Spencer served as chief political strategist for President Ronald Reagan’s California gubernatorial campaigns in 1966 and 1970 and presidential campaigns in 1980 and 1984. As chief political strategist to President Gerald Ford, Spencer played a central role in helping Ford secure the Republican nomination at the Kansas City Convention in 1976.

Spencer joined Kasich alongside fellow strategists Charlie Black, Vin Weber, and Tom Ingram, who are all veterans of Republican Party politics. The Kasich campaign also announced an Arizona leadership team on Friday to bring to that state’s primary.

As Breitbart News reported, Kasich is angling to help keep Donald Trump below the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, and then trying to claim the nomination on later ballots after pledged delegates are allowed to vote on their own. It is mathematically impossible at this point for Kasich to reach 1,237 during the primary voting.

On the topic of a contested convention, Kasich said in the Fox News Republican debate in Detroit that “We are already there.”

Breitbart News spoke to Kasich surrogate John Sununu Jr., of the New Hampshire Sununu dynasty, in the Spin Room after that debate about the possibility of a brokered convention for Kasich.

Sununu told Breitbart News that Kasich will gain delegates in the northern states, hold Trump to less than a majority share of delegates, and then win it all in Cleveland.