The presidential campaign for Ohio Gov. John Kasich is crying foul over reports that rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in a private Manhattan meeting that Kasich didn’t make the ballot in New York state.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told Breitbart News exclusively on Tuesday night after reports surfaced that Cruz falsely said Kasich wouldn’t be on the ballot in the Empire State:
Look, we all saw what Ted Cruz’s people did to Dr. Carson in Iowa. And we also saw what they tried to say about us in Illinois suggesting we wouldn’t be on the Illinois ballot when we were in fact on the Illinois ballot. And now we’re seeing him and his people say that we’re not going to be on the ballot in New York when I am currently looking at a picture of the ballot in New York with John Kasich’s name on it. This is a disturbing pattern, we think this race should be above that and our campaign will never drop to this level of untruthfulness.
Nichols’ comments come in response to a report from The Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket that Cruz reportedly told a closed-door meeting of New York Republicans in Manhattan on Tuesday that Kasich may not make the ballot in the state.
“Attendee at Ted Cruz event said Cruz told them Kasich may not make NY ballot,” Picket Tweeted with a link to her article, which has since been updated to reflect that that it is untrue to say that Kasich won’t make the ballot in New York.
The claim was also highlighted by the Texas Tribune’s dedicated Ted Cruz reporter Patrick Svitek, who Tweeted about it.
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) March 22, 2016
Cruz’s closed press meeting with about 100 people, according to Picket, was at the Metropolitan Republican Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
“Cruz told the New York Republican group that it is a ‘two man race’ and that ‘nominating Trump is surrendering the election to Hillary Clinton,’” Picket wrote.
“Cruz also called Ohio Governor John Kasich a ‘spoiler,’ one attendee told The Daily Caller, and noted to attendees that Kasich may not make the ballot in New York,” Picket wrote. “At least five GOP County Chairs were in attendance, including Westchester County Chair Rob Astorino, New York State GOP Chairman Ed Cox, and Manhattan County GOP Chairwoman Adele Malpass.”
Cruz campaign national spokeswoman Alice Stewart told Breitbart News on Wednesday morning that Cruz didn’t say that.
“Ted said Gov. Kasich may drop out before NY, after losing badly in AZ, UT, and WI,” Stewart said in an email.
It’s unclear at this time whether Stewart has asked Picket and Svitek to retract their reporting on this.
Sam Nunberg—a New York Republican who previously advised Donald Trump’s campaign and is now unaffiliated but attended the Cruz meeting in Manhattan—told Breitbart News that Cruz didn’t say what Picket reported he said, or at least not in that context.
Nunberg said in a brief phone interview on Tuesday:
I attended the meeting. Sen. Cruz said that by the time the primary reaches New York, Kasich will have been out of the race because he is going to lose Arizona, he is going to lose Utah, and he is going to lose Wisconsin. He will have no rationale to be in the race and therefore should not be in the primary any longer. He never said in that room that Kasich was not on the ballot. Perhaps they should worry about winning another state besides Ohio.
“It came in the context of that by New York it should be a two-man race,” Nunberg added.
Picket has since updated her article to remove the claim she reported. “This post has been updated to reflect that John Kasich will appear on the NY Republican primary ballot,” her update reads.
Kasich is on the NY GOP Primary ballot.
— Kerry Picket (@KerryPicket) March 23, 2016
Kasich’s team provided Breitbart News with evidence that proves the claim Cruz is reported to have made is entirely untrue.
First and foremost, a copy of the ballot on the New York State Board of Elections website shows Kasich’s name right there on the ballot. Secondly, a candidate petition list published there shows Kasich as a valid candidate.
In addition, Kasich’s team provided Breitbart News with a Feb. 23, 2016 email from Anthony Casale—a senior adviser to the state GOP committee in New York—proving that he was put on the ballot that day.
“To close the loop, our Commissioners on the State Board of Elections today voted to place Governor Kasich on the April 19 ballot,” Casale wrote in the Feb. 23 email.
But Kasich remaining in the race represents a serious problem for Cruz. Cruz claimed Tuesday evening that if Kasich had dropped out, he would have beat Trump in Illinois.
"We would've won Illinois without John Kasich," Ted Cruz says.
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) March 23, 2016
New York’s GOP primary is on April 19. The only primary between now and then is Wisconsin’s, which comes on April 5. This means Cruz, Trump. and Kasich are likely to put a huge focus on both the Badger State and the Empire State next, now that Arizona and Utah are in the bag.
Current polling in New York state has Trump way ahead, up at 65 percent, according to Boston’s Emerson College Polling Center, while Cruz is down at just 12 percent and Kasich is down at 0ne percent. New York offers a rich 95 delegates proportionally by congressional district, but an extraordinarily strong showing by Trump in his home state could lead to him winning all or a significant portion of them.
This kind of a storyline on Cruz–in which he and his campaign appear to be engaged in dirty tricks again–coming out at this time could prove to be particularly unnerving for Cruz headed into this important next stretch against Trump. After Cruz’s big win in Iowa’s caucuses earlier this year, the reports of what his campaign organizers did that night to convince Dr. Ben Carson’s supporters to leave the world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon’s team for the Texas senator’s team in the caucuses haunted him for weeks and created an opening for Trump to dominate the next several contests, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lingered above Cruz for some time in several states, including South Carolina and Nevada.
This piece has been updated to include comment from Cruz’s campaign, which wasn’t provided until after publication of this article.