Donald Trump on Tuesday taunted his Republican presidential rivals, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for the awkward start to their anti-Trump pact brokered over the weekend.
“The Cruz-Kasich pact is under great strain,” Trump tweeted. “This joke of a deal is falling apart, not being honored and almost dead. Very dumb!”
Trump’s jab came after Kasich and Cruz sent mixed messages about the nature of their alliance on its first day, leading to questions about its viability.
The agreement calls for Kasich’s campaign to essentially concede Indiana, which votes next Tuesday, to Cruz. The Texas senator’s campaign, meanwhile, will back out of Oregon and New Mexico and let Kasich devote resources to the Western states.
Kasich spent much of a Monday-morning campaign stop downplaying the deal. And when asked whether he would explicitly tell his supporters to back Cruz in Indiana, he demurred.
“I’ve never told them not to vote for me,” Kasich said. “They ought to vote for me. But I’m not over there campaigning and spending resources.”
Kasich also added to the confusion during a Tuesday-morning appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.
“I have laid out a strategy, and I have not told anybody to not vote for me. I’m just not there campaigning,” Kasich said. “You know what? When you don’t campaign in certain areas in any kind of a race, guess what? Your turnout goes down. I don’t tell people how to vote. I am not in that state right now. I will be in other states.”
The speed bumps in the deal came as Trump was set to dominate another round of primary contests Tuesday. Polls have shown him with gigantic leads in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, the five states that vote Tuesday.