The Cruz-Kasich Deal Is Already Falling Apart

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John Kasich Campaigns In Maryland Ahead Of State Primary
Kasich can't even collude properly.Photo: Alex Wong/2016 Getty Images

The temporary alliance between Ted Cruz and John Kasich, which was announced on Sunday with much fanfare, is already full of holes. In an effort to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump from winning still more delegates (he currently holds 845 to Cruz’s 559 and Kasich’s 148), the Kasich campaign said it would effectively stop campaigning in Indiana to clear the way for a Cruz victory there, while Cruz would do the same for Kasich in New Mexico and Oregon. But it seems both candidates are reluctant to back down.

I never told them not to vote for me — they should vote for me,” Kasich said of his Indiana supporters during a press meeting in Philadelphia on Monday. He clarified that, just because he’s not “spending resources” in Indiana doesn’t mean he’s given up there. “We have limited resources,” he said. “Mine is like the people’s campaign; we’ve been outspent basically 50 to 1.” Kasich also reportedly plans to keep raising money in Indiana and to meet with the state’s governor on Tuesday.

But a few hours earlier, Kasich’s Indiana co-chair said the opposite: “Kasich is asking his supporters in Indiana to vote for Cruz so Trump does not win Indiana.” 

Cruz also seems to believe Kasich is giving up his bid for Indiana; at a rally in Borden, Cruz said it was “big news that John Kasich has decided to pull out of Indiana to give us a head-to-head contest with Donald Trump” and that the deal to split up resources in the three states “made sense from both campaigns.” But the Trusted Leadership super-pac, which supports the Texas senator, will reportedly continue to air an anti-Kasich ad there, hinting that Cruz might not be as confident in Kasich’s deference as he claims.

Meanwhile, Cruz’s campaign reportedly discouraged voters from engaging in tactical voting, a.k.a. voting for Kasich just to keep votes from Trump. “We never tell voters who to vote for,” read a suggested Cruz talking point, according to the New York Times. “We’re simply letting folks know where we will be focusing our time and resources.”

Trump, for his part, is using the confusion to his advantage. “Honestly, it shows such total weakness,” he said of the deal at a rally in Rhode Island. “It’s pathetic when two longtime insider politicians — Establishment guys, whether you like it or not — have to collude, have to get together to try to beat a guy that really speaks what the people want.” From the looks of things, though, Cruz and Kasich might not be able to keep it together long enough for their “collusion” to work.