The Corner

Politics & Policy

Will Kasich Shoot the Hostage?

The hostage, of course, being the non-Trump element of the GOP. 

Ohio governor John Kasich remains in the race while few believe he has a viable path to the nomination. So what’s he doing, and what does he want? Alexis Levinson reported earlier this month, in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary, that Kasich intended to use a strong showing in the Granite State to make himself a force in the race and, potentially, a kingmaker in his home state of Ohio. 

There’s increasing chatter that, with time running out to stop Trump, Marco Rubio needs Kasich out of the race well ahead of the March 15 winner-take-all primaries, and he should push him out by offering him a spot on the ticket. Larry Sabato & co. floated this idea on Saturday:   

Now that Bush is out, Rubio might want to consider a daring gambit — openly offering Kasich the vice presidential slot in exchange for the Ohio governor’s support … If Rubio can somehow push Kasich out after Bush’s exit, it seems reasonable to think that the lion’s share of their supporters would go to him, and in a three-way race, that could be enough for Rubio to start getting the victories he has failed to secure so far. However, Kasich seems inclined to continue to run, and the Republican power brokers who favor a Rubio-Kasich ticket probably won’t take the risks necessary to make this happen.

As Sabato notes, Ronald Reagan tried this tactic in 1976, openly offering the Pennsylvania senator Richard Schweiker the would-be vice presidential slot in order to strengthen his support among moderates. Some predicted that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would employ the tactic in the close 2008 primary. The Boston Globe reported that, while Reagan lost, “picking a vice president while trailing in delegates was a bold technique that some political analysts think might repeat itself in this year’s tight Democratic race, the first since the Reagan-Ford contest that could go down to the wire in the same way.” 

Particularly after we see the results on Super Tuesday, expect to hear more about this scenario. It would be an enormous boon for Rubio to have Kasich campaigning for him in Ohio in the days leading up to its primary on March 15 — and, depending on how Florida shapes up, perhaps his only shot to stop Trump. 

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