Marco Rubio Just Made a Desperate Move, and John Kasich Punked HimPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Politics Features John Kasich
It’s no secret that Marco Rubio needs to win the Florida primary on Tuesday in order to be even remotely viable as a presidential candidate, and it’s no secret that barring a Bernie-esque reversal of the current polls, he’s going to lose. And when he loses, he’s going to drop out of the race that very night.
So today, in a last-ditch attempt to eke out a narrow win in his home state, he appealed to John Kasich’s supporters.
“If you are a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you want to defeat Donald Trump, your best chance in Ohio is John Kasich,” Alex Conant, a Rubio spokesperson, told CNN. As you might guess, he followed this up by asking Kasich supporters in Florida to vote for Rubio.
In theory, it’s a nice tit-for-tat deal that could undermine Trump and keep both candidates in the race. The problem is two-fold:
1. John Kasich is actually leading Trump in Ohio in some polls (and is very close in the rest), so he’s in a position of power, whereas Rubio is operating from weakness.
2. John Kasich wants Rubio the hell out of the race, even if it means a Florida victory for Trump, so he can dominate the “sensible” Republican vote.
And that’s not even getting into how it would look, to the voting public, for GOP establishment figures to collude in an effort to stop Trump. Gee, you think that might play into the Donald’s narrative as the muscular outsider? Not to mention that if Kasich has any interest in being selected as Vice President, winning Ohio while Rubio loses Florida is the perfect scenario.
What looked like a logical deal on the surface is quickly exposed as a stupid move with the slightest analysis. It didn’t take long for Kasich’s campaign to nip that one in the bud, in the form of spokesperson Rob Nichols:
Kasich spox Rob Nichols on Rubio news: “We were going to win in OH without his help, just as he’s going to lose in FL w/o ours”
— Kathleen Ronayne (@kronayne) March 11, 2016
Boom. That’s a solid smackdown.
And, yet again, Rubio looks weak. But that’s what happens when you try to operate strategically from a desperate place—you can’t cover up your intentions, and you have no power to wield.
What’s ironic about this whole situation is that Kasich benefits doubly—he looks like he has integrity and refuses to use underhanded tactics, but Rubio planted the seed of collusion in the heads of Ohio voters who want to defeat Trump, and that could end up benefitting Kasich anyway. Politics is weird, man.