The puzzling decision by Kasich

Yesterday, just one day after Ted Cruz announced that he was quitting the race, John Kasich announced that he too was giving up on his campaign for Republican nomination, with a farewell speech containing the usual references to god’s will for him.

“I have always said that the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone, and as I suspend my campaign today I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life,” Kasich told supporters at a hastily arranged event in Columbus. “Thank you and God bless.”

His timing was odd. If he felt that having a chance of winning was the criterion for staying in the race, a logical time to drop out was when he had no chance of winning a majority of delegates. But that passed a long time ago since he won only his home state of Ohio and finished third or fourth or worse in most primaries, until the very end when there were only three candidates left. He still has fewer delegates won than Marco Rubio who dropped out well over a month ago. His poor showing in Indiana was also not a surprise since he had declared that he was not going to put any resources into that state as part of his pact with Cruz, unlike for Cruz who had placed all his bets on that state

His decision to stay on this long was perfectly defensible. At their best, elections should be about more than winning and losing. They also provide an important opportunity to spread your message, drive the political conversation, and bring important issues and perspectives to the public. Besides, why should the voters of the final primaries like in California be denied the opportunity to vote for the candidate and issues they prefer?

You would think that with Ted Cruz dropping out, Kasich would have welcomed his role as the sole alternative to Trump to gain more media attention to his message and give the remaining voters their first clear choice between Donald Trump and a pretend moderate like him.

So I don’t understand why he suddenly chose to drop out yesterday. It was strange timing.


  1. says

    My guess is that he had hopes of being the compromise choice at a brokered convention. However, after Indiana he realized that the convention would not be brokered after all, so there was no point in staying in the race.

  2. lorn says

    At first blush this would seem to be odd but, thinking a bit more, perhaps this is a bit of political ju-jitsu by GOP central command. With Kasich still an option, albeit a very weak one, the re-jiggering of the convention seems complicated and potentially ugly. With Kasich gone the ugly reality that is Trump will loom large and the consequences of his potential presidency take on additional weight. There are still months to go of wall-to-wall Trump on the GOP side for people to grow tired of the Donald.

    It makes the complications of a convention fight seem the lesser of two evils.

  3. says

    Everyone else who went up against Trump came out of it a laughingstock. Kasich, too. Can’t say I blame him for not wanting to be the focal point of Trump’s scorn. Basically, all that remaining in the campaign offered him was a chance to make a career-ending mistake. He’s probably already cooked for good.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Maybe the party bosses applied a little pressure. “It’s inevitable, so let’s not look like we’re obstructing.”

  5. DonDueed says

    I think ahcuah nailed it. Kasich hoped to get to a contested convention along with Trump and Cruz. If Trump failed on the first ballot, he figured Cruz would never get the support of the leadership; that would leave Kasich as the only remaining alternative unless a complete non-candidate came (or was pushed) forward.

    The results in Indiana ended that pipe dream.

  6. Mano Singham says

    Yeah, I think that ahcuah’s explanation makes the most sense, though there may have been some truth as well in Marcus Ranum’s suggestion that Kasich cringed at being the sole target of Trump’s ridicule.

  7. John Smith says

    Here’s my idea -- when there were four candidates Kasich and Rubio made an Ohio and Florida deal. Rubio told Ohio supporters to vote for Kasich, Kasich didn’t do the same in Florida. This helped to knock out Rubio and Florida was a Winner-Take-All. Cruz was knocked out by the same trick in Indiana plus Trump gained a few percentage points for the perceived rigging of the elections. Trump’s top advisor Roger Stone has been fielding Kasich as VP for a long time and Trump has said similar things while Kasich was still in the race. There is a good chance Kasich was running to be Trump’s VP for a while.

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