Politics

Kasich to Suspend GOP Campaign, Reports say

Poll shows Ohio governor would beat Hillary Clinton, while Donald Trump would lose

John Kasich's campaign had initially vowed Wednesday morning that the Ohio governor was staying in the Republican presidential race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call )

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will suspend his presidential campaign with Donald Trump emerging as the presumptive Republican nominee , multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.  

Kasich was scheduled to speak to reporters at Dulles International Airport outside Washington in the morning, but his campaign abruptly moved his remarks to 5 p.m. EDT in Ohio.

Just before rescheduling the news conference, campaign manager Beth Hansen sent a fundraising pitch for support to expand grassroots operations in upcoming primary states, an email message that now seems misleading at best.

“Sen. Ted Cruz just dropped out of the presidential race and it's up to us to stop Trump and unify our party in time to defeat Hillary Clinton,” Hansen wrote. She added that “17 polls in a row show the same thing: Gov. John Kasich is the ONLY Republican who can defeat Hillary Clinton.”

   

Although trailing badly in the delegate count, Kasich was the last candidate standing against Trump. But he has not commented publicly following the New York billionaire's decisive victory on Tuesday in the Indiana primary, a result that prompted Cruz to drop out of the race.  

The Indiana primary culminated months of bitter campaigning that saw a crowded Republican field of current and former governors and senators, and political outsiders dwindle. Trump never relinquished his front-runner status as primary and caucus voting rolled on, despite efforts to derail his candidacy. A last-ditch alliance by Cruz and Kasich to slow him down and keep alive the prospect of a brokered convention in July fizzled as night fell in the Hoosier State.  

Despite Trump's hefty delegate lead, Kasich's camp said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus' pronouncement of Trump as the party's "presumptive nominee" was premature.  

Chief strategist John Weaver tweeted: “Appreciate @Reince & his hard work for @GOP, but until someone has 1,237 bound delegates there is no presumptive nominee. CA here we come.”  

[Related: Trump's Best Move: Kasich for VP] Kasich has insisted that he is the only candidate with the combination of experience and appeal to win the nomination and take on the Democrats in the fall. On Wednesday, his campaign released a "Star Wars" parody video calling him the “only hope” to do just that.

A CNN/ORC poll, conducted before Cruz exited the stage, shows Kasich beating Clinton by 7 points, while Trump trailed the likely Democratic nominee by double digits.  

Kasich, a moderate, was first elected as Ohio's governor in 2010 after holding a House seat for nearly 20 years, where he made a name for himself on fiscal matters and chaired the Budget Committee.  

[Related: John Kasich’s Utterly Strange, Bizarre Campaign]

He has the backing of 10 members of Congress, according to Roll Call's Endorsement Tracker, including vulnerable GOP incumbent Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who is running for re-election this year. Kasich is popular in his home state and won the Ohio primary in March with Trump second.

   

Portman's reiterated his support for Kasich on Wednesday. But he also has said that he plans to support the Republican nominee in the fall "unless something crazy happens."  

Niels Lesniewksi contributed to this report.

Contact Bowman at  bridgetbowman@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc .

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