The campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of three remaining candidates in the Republican presidential primary, is growing frustrated by a stop-Donald Trump effort that in their view has become more pro-Ted Cruz than anti-Trump.
Kasich’s team insinuates that the stop-Trump effort is ignoring the delegate-rich state of New York because Cruz is polling in third place. They are also concerned that anti-Trump efforts will not enter Pennsylvania, either, another state where Kasich is also in second place.
Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, tweeted his frustration.
Two anti-Trump groups, which are also the best funded - Our Principles PAC and Club for Growth - have indicated that they will stay out of New York. Club for Growth has endorsed Cruz. Our Principles PAC has not.
Another group, the Never Trump PAC, has launched a $100,000 digital campaign in Manhattan opposing Trump. And a fourth, Make America Awesome PAC, released a 60 second radio ad in Western New York ahead of the primary, which takes place next Tuesday. While the radio spot hammers Trump, including for saying he would "perhaps" date his daughter Ivanka if she weren't his daughter, the narrator in the ad also encourages voters to back Cruz.
"Trump. Stupid stuff," the narrator says. "Make the smart choice and support Ted Cruz."
The Kasich campaign said that without the stop-Trump effort, Trump could sweep the state, winning all 95 delegates and giving him a huge boost moving into the final weeks of the nominating contest.
In a statement to NBC News, Kasich spokesperson Chris Schrimpf said, "If the Never Trump movement was serious, they'd be going all out to keep Trump under 50 percent in New York and to weaken him across the April 26 states in the Northeast where Gov. Kasich is running a strong second. Their failure to act is inexplicable.”
Trump is polling above 50 percent in New York, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Monday, showing his lead with 54 percent to Kasich’s 21 percent and Cruz’s 18 percent.
The 50 percent threshold is critical. If Trump wins a majority of votes in the state and in each Congressional district, he wins every delegate.
But the organizations designed to disrupt Trump’s path to the nomination say they want to spend their money where they’ll have the most impact.
Our Principles PAC adviser Tim Miller wrote off New York in an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday.
“We need to figure out where is the best bang for our buck,” he said, noting how expensive the media market in New York is to buy advertising.
He also noted that New York is Trump’s home state. “Trump is going to win New York handily,” he added.
Club for Growth, the other organization that has spent more than $10 million to defeat Trump, said they “may not do an extensive play in New York, but are looking hard at Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Indiana. We go where we think we can have the best impact.”
Kasich has no chance of winning an impossible 138 percent of remaining delegates to reach 1237 ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer. Cruz, meanwhile, is 221 delegates behind Trump.
Kasich’s campaign, meanwhile, is not going after Trump, either, in New York. He is the only Republican candidate running advertisements in New York and his ad attacks Cruz, and not Trump.
“In Iowa, Ted Cruz sneered at New York values,” the narrator in the ad says. “Ted Cruz divides to get a vote.”
When asked why they aren’t attacking Trump in New York, Schrimpf said, “Why did the Club for Growth spend $1 million attacking Gov. Kasich in Wisconsin instead of Trump?"