John Kasich announced on Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign to become the GOP’s 2016 Presidential nominee. The move would not have been particularly surprising had the Ohio governor not explicitly stated the night before that he was going to stay the course – no matter what.
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump walloped both Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary. Cruz’s campaign suffered a fatal blow in that defeat – essentially ensuring that he would have no viable path to the nomination. The Texas senator had gone all in on a strong Indiana showing and lost.
Kasich was a different story.
Nobody expected Kasich to perform well in Indiana – and he lived up to expectations. Moreover, he hasn’t had a viable path to the nomination in months.
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On Tuesday night, he said he planned to stay in the race.
"Tonight's results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich's campaign plans," said John Weaver, Kasich's chief strategist. "Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention."
So what changed? Well, the final roadblock between Trump and the nomination had been removed. Cruz was out. Marco Rubio was out. Everyone was out.
For a while there had been quiet murmurs that it almost seemed as though Kasich was actively trying to help Trump – if in no other way simply by harming his main competition. The Ohio governor never really damaged Trump in any way, he simply tried to present himself as the ‘adult in the room’ all the while campaigning against everyone in the race except Trump.
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On Wednesday, Trump announced he was looking for a VP. He reportedly plans to make an announcement in July regarding his decision.
Whose name has been mentioned already? Newt Gingrich. Rick Scott.
And John Kasich.
It’s still early. Time will tell what Trump’s ideal administration will look like. But if Kasich ends up in a VP slot or any other important position, it will be hard to look back at this race and not look skeptically at the role he played in Trump’s rise to power.