I could be persuaded to see a justification for Marco Rubio to continue fighting on, at least until the Florida primary is over. There is much talk of a Ted Cruz/Rubio unity ticket and most if not all of the reaction to that idea has been positive. Should Rubio find a way to win Florida next Tuesday he could bank the delegates from that winner-take-all primary for the unity ticket, and that could be a quite productive result for the effort to install an actual Republican — and better, an anti-establishment conservative — as the GOP nominee.
There is ample discussion after Tuesday’s result, which was such a disaster for Rubio that he failed to land a single delegate out of Mississippi, Michigan, Idaho or Hawaii, that the Florida Senator’s time left in the campaign can be measured in hours rather than days. There was a CNN report circulating Monday, which has not been disavowed though Rubio’s camp denies it, to the tune that Rubio’s own people are telling him to get out of the race now.
That report was picked up by Cruz campaign volunteers in Hawaii as an indication Rubio voters should come over to Cruz — and Rubio’s camp predictably cried foul in a reprise of the Ben Carson-Iowa race-quitting kerfuffle, proving that this multiple-candidate campaign has largely jumped the shark.
We will set that aside for now. Rubio should get out, either this week or next.
But John Kasich absolutely, positively, should be out right now. He should have already gotten out.
Kasich Tuesday night had his high-water mark in the 2016 cycle. He finished with 24.3 percent of the vote in Michigan. That, after crisscrossing the state to the exclusion of everything else and pouring his entire campaign into the state next door to his own.
The problem: Cruz finished ahead of Kasich with 24.9 percent in Michigan. Cruz spent little time in Michigan and his campaign spent only $1,100 total in the state.
This, in a state as similar to his home state as Michigan is, couldn’t be a clearer signal that John Kasich is wasting his time continuing in the race.
Kasich’s theory of the race holds that he will win Ohio, and that will fuel his survival into the convention in Cleveland — which somehow will allow him to hang in and survive a floor fight for the nomination at a brokered convention. Kasich doesn’t even pretend that his campaign will catch fire and result in primary wins beyond Ohio which put him in contention for a majority of delegates prior to it. He’s openly dependent on delegates switching to him in secondary ballots amid the chaos of an open convention. Even if Kasich were to win Ohio and the 66 delegates it will award on a winner-take-all basis, he wouldn’t have more delegates than Rubio does, and he would have no real leverage in a chaotic brokered convention that he thinks would somehow produce him as the nominee.
Cruz has rightly called such a spectacle a disaster for the GOP. Trump voters would revolt, as would Cruz voters, at the idea that a Kasich, with no more than one primary win in his home state (assuming he were to take Ohio, where he is trailing Trump), could get the nomination ahead of the two frontrunners. It would require Republican insiders — the dreaded party establishment — to steal the nomination from Trump and Cruz in order to make Kasich the nominee.
That would never happen. The most delusional of the incompetent consultants on K Street know by now that foisting Kasich on a Republican base which has consistently turned him down in primaries is an impossibility.
Could a Cruz-Rubio unity ticket win Ohio? With Kasich’s support, that seems possible. With Kasich in the race, no. With him in the race Trump is the likely winner in Ohio.
If Kasich won’t get out this week, then it is probably better for Trump to win Ohio in order to force him out. Kasich is a destructive presence in the race at present and his rhetoric about brokered conventions is setting Republicans against each other.
And Kasich has refused to engage Trump in the race, instead wasting time at the debates spouting a bizarre narrative that looks more like a re-election spiel in Ohio than a presidential campaign.
Enough already. Let’s get this race down to a head-to-head and allow the Republican Party to decide which anti-establishment candidate it will run against Hillary Clinton.