It has taken only a few days for the unprecedented deal between Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s presidential campaigns to fall flat.
The agreement called for Kasich to pull out of Indiana in exchange for Cruz’s ceding contests in Oregon and New Mexico. It was viewed as a Hail Mary attempt at keeping GOP frontrunner Donald Trump from racking up the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the Republican nomination ahead of the July convention.
Trump has called the deal “collusion” between the two campaigns, and he has lambasted both for making it. But on Friday, signifying the diminishing nature of the agreement, Trump mocked both candidates in a scathing tweet.
“Wow, the ridiculous deal made between Lyin’ Ted Cruz and 1 for 42 John Kasich has just blown up,” he posted. “What a dumb deal – dead on arrival!”
When the deal was first announced by both campaigns late Sunday night, it seemingly had potential. A win in Indiana is essential to keeping Trump from clinching the nomination. Cruz has a better shot in the Hoosier State of overtaking Trump, whose polling average in the state shows him to lead by more than 6 points.
Both Kasich and Cruz are mathematically eliminated from securing the Republican nomination ahead of the GOP convention. The hope in joining forces was that they could stop Trump from reaching the needed number of delegates, potentially triggering a second ballot at the convention on which many delegates would be able to vote freely for the candidate of their choice.
But the deal first got off to a rocky start when, on Monday morning, an agitated Kasich refused to ask his supporters to vote for Cruz in Indiana.
- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
“I don’t see this as any big deal,” Kasich said. “I’m not going to spend resources in Indiana – he’s not going to spend them in other places. So what? What’s the big deal?”
Shortly after Kasich made the remarks, GOP strategist and commentator Evan Siegfried told Business Insider that he thought it “was a verbal slip” by the Ohio governor.
“It probably will be walked back soon,” he said. “I think the genuine answer to that is he had a gaffe and it’s not a big deal. I think his supporters in Indiana will know that’s their thing, to go vote for Cruz. In Indiana you vote Cruz – in Oregon you vote Kasich.”
But Kasich seemed only to add 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,” Kasich said. “I’m just not there campaigning. 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.”
Additionally, Cruz hasn’t asked supporters in Oregon – where a new poll showed him faring better than Kasich – or New Mexico to vote for the Ohio governor.
By Wednesday, with both candidates seeming to distance themselves from the deal amid seemingly endless ridicule from Trump and the Manhattan billionaire’s campaign, Cruz opted to make what he called a “major announcement” to try to snatch back some positive headlines.
Cruz announced his choice of ex-presidential hopeful and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate, should he win the nomination.
But Fiorina told conservative radio host Mark Levin on Thursday that Kasich should drop out of the race. It came less than four full days since the Cruz-Kasich pact was announced.
“Look, there is somebody in this race who ought to get out,” Fiorina said. “His name is John Kasich.”
Cruz also told a crowd at an Indiana rally that Kasich “pulled out” without any mention of the deal struck between the two campaigns.
“John Kasich has pulled out,” he said, according to The New York Times. “He’s withdrawn from the state of Indiana.”
Shortly after he said that, Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, sent a cryptic tweet.
“I can’t stand liars,” he wrote.