Top staff from both the Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich presidential campaigns issued separate statements Sunday evening, saying they would be working in concert to prevent GOP frontrunner Donald Trump from securing enough delegates to win a first-round vote at the Republican National convention.
The Cruz campaign released a statement late Sunday saying their campaign would focus their efforts on Indiana, allowing the Kasich campaign to focus on Oregon and New Mexico.
The Kasich campaign likewise released their own statement that asserted they would focus on Oregon and New Mexico, and let Cruz focus on Indiana. The remainder of the states would be fair game for both campaigns, said the Kasich statement.
Cruz Campaign Manager Jeff Roe said on Sunday:
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.
Sen. Ted and wife Heidi Cruz will spend the day before the five state Acela primary contests — Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island — in none of them, opting instead to focus on securing votes in more favorable states Indiana and Nebraska. The Texas senator will hold four events in Indiana on Monday. Wife Heidi Cruz will hold three meet and greet events in Nebraska that day in Omaha, Fremont and Norfolk.
Also Sunday night, Kasich campaign chief strategist John Weaver stated:
“Donald Trump doesn’t have the support of a majority ofRepublicans – 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.”
Fox News held a town hall in Pennsylvania on Sunday night which Sen. Cruz attended remotely from Evansville, Indiana. The initial question that co-host Martha MacCallum asked Cruz was, “The first obvious question is that the action is all here on the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic states on Tuesday [April 26], so have you already moved on from Tuesday? You’re in Indiana now.”
Absolutely not. We are campaigning across the country. I’ve spent the last several days barnstorming across Pennsylvania and we’ve got tremendous support in the Keystone state … I couldn’t be more encouraged at the conservatives who are coming together in Pennsylvania, coming together in Maryland and coming together really across the country.
Two recent polls of Indiana voters show Trump holding a narrow lead of Cruz with Kasich trailing well behind. A Fox News poll gives Trump an eight point lead over Cruz. Kasich came in at only 16 percent in that poll.
Indianapolis TV station WTHR released a poll that shows Trump with a six point lead over Cruz with Kasich 15 points behind Trump. That poll put Cruz virtually even with Trump among core Republican voters. Those polls were conducted April 18-21.
Trump has led in recent polling out of at least four of Tuesday’s five Republican primary states.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana