Kasich-Backer John Sununu: ‘1,236 Isn’t Close Enough,’ if Trump Falls Short of Delegates, We’ll Have ‘Open Convention’

Kasich Settle Down AP Matt Rourke
AP/Matt Rourke

Former Senator John Sununu (R-NH), a supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the 2016 Republican nomination, appeared on Breitbart News Daily Tuesday morning to discuss the future of Kasich’s campaign after a disappointing showing in Tuesday’s crucial Wisconsin primary.

“There’s no question John Kasich will be stronger in the Northeast,” Sununu predicted, looking forward to the next few primaries.  “He has been stronger in the Northeast than Ted Cruz, so he’s better positioned to win delegates from Trump.”

He characterized the Trump and Cruz campaigns as “afraid” of Kasich because both have been calling on him to get out of the race.

“What are these two guys afraid of?  What are they really so afraid of?” Sununu asked. “It’s actually pretty simple: John Kasich has the vision and the strength to be President. He’s actually been experienced. He’s done these things before: cut taxes, balanced budgets, reformed government.”  

“But more importantly, equally important, he’ll win,” Sununu continued.  “Ted Cruz loses to Hillary Clinton in every national poll done in the last two weeks.  Donald Trump loses to Hillary Clinton.  This is about beating Hillary Clinton, making sure we have a Republican president that can make conservative Supreme Court choices, and that we keep a Republican majority in the Senate.” 

He said he couldn’t understand why so many power players in the GOP, such as Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, were aligning behind Cruz as the alternative to Trump, because he thought Cruz had no chance of winning the general election.

When SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon pointed out that Kasich fell far short of expectations in Wisconsin — a state whose strong Republican Party should have provided favorable terrain for the appeal Sununu described — Sununu acknowledged that the Kasich campaign was hoping for a brokered convention.  He judged this outcome more likely as Senator Ted Cruz wins more delegates, and the media buzz around Donald Trump as an “inevitable” nominee dissipates.

“We are, in my opinion, going to an open convention,” said Sununu.  “It’s not back-room, it’s not cigar-smoking brokers. There are no brokers in the Republican Party.”

“At that convention, the delegates are going to be asked one simple question: who has the strength, and the vision, to lead this country, and who has the broad base and appeal to beat Hillary Clinton in November?” Sununu predicted. “And that’s John Kasich. It is. He can do the job, he’s got the vision, he’s got a plan to turn the country around, restore our standing around the world.  If we’re going to have an open convention, he needs to be there.”

He added that he thought it was impossible for the Republican Party to beat Hillary Clinton if it did not win Ohio in the general election, and “only John Kasich can win Ohio at this point.”

“Every poll has shown Trump losing Ohio, every poll has shown Cruz losing Ohio,” he asserted. “The last poll done in North Carolina showed Trump and Cruz losing North Carolina.  You know what happens if Republicans lose North Carolina?  We lose the Senate, and we probably lose the House, because that’s a tidal wave election.”

Sununu rejected the idea that Trump should be given the nomination if he comes up just a few delegates short of the 1,237 needed to secure victory on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention.

“1,236 isn’t ‘close enough,’” he insisted, although later in the interview he seemed to back away from denying the nomination based on such a razor-thin margin. “You need a majority. That’s the rule. We have rules for reasons, and everyone knows them. To say, ‘I’ve got 1,208, that’s close enough?’ That’s circumventing the process and the rules that the Republican Party has set for choosing the strongest nominee that we can.  That’s just wrong.”

Sununu went on to predict that Trump would come up much shorter of the 1,237 magic number — perhaps in the 1,100 range — and that many of his delegates would abandon him on the second ballot, once they were no longer required to vote for him based on the outcome of their state primaries, “because they have bigger, broader issues and concerns about the Republican Party in mind.”

“It’s not just about the Presidency,” said Sununu. “It’s about House races and Senate races. If Donald Trump is the nominee, we lose our Senate seat in Ohio, the Republican senate seat in New Hampshire, we probably lose the Republican Senate seats in Illinois and Wisconsin… Donald Trump would get creamed in those states, and as a result would lose control of the Senate, and the presidency. That would be a disaster.”

Sununu insisted the Kasich campaign is not worried about the Republican Party’s Rule 40 — which, as written, would keep Kasich off all ballots at the convention, because it requires a threshold of state primary victories that the Ohio governor cannot meet. He dismissed Rule 40 as a relic of the 2012 election, written “when he had a presumptive nominee with a huge majority of the delegates,” and the convention was pressed for time due to the impact of a hurricane.

“They just didn’t want the Ron Paul forces to create mischief at the convention,” he explained.  “This is different.  This is an open convention.  I think the delegates and the Rules Committee will realize it would be a mistake to limit the choices and the options of the delegates when you’re going into an open convention.”

Sununu predicted Rule 40 would either be stricken before the convention begins or would be rewritten by the Rules Committee from the convention floor.

“It’s not just about John Kasich,” he said.  “People talk about Paul Ryan, or someone else that the delegates might turn to at an open convention.  You can’t have that, if you have some arbitrary rule that says you can only choose one of these two people, Cruz or Trump.  I think that would be a mistake.”

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST.

Listen to the full interview with John Sununu below:


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