Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich are working together to stop Donald Trump. The question now: How do the outside groups supporting them help execute the strategy?
The alliance between Cruz and Kasich was as much about the various allied super PACs and outside groups as it was about the campaigns themselves. And on Monday, many of those groups were starting to strategize about how to move forward.
The Kasich super PAC New Day for America has a conference call planned for Monday afternoon to discuss the best way to make sure that Kasich wins Oregon. They’re left interpreting the public statements from both campaigns as to whether or not they should continue to air negative ads that target Ted Cruz — negative ads that the group’s senior advisers believe are the most effective.
The pro-Cruz super PAC Keep the Promise I has announced that they are going to continue to air $1.6 million worth of negative ads against Kasich in Indiana.
Stop-Trump political groups are applauding the agreement between the two trailing candidates.
The Club for Growth, which is airing an anti-Kasich ad in the state, is also going forward with an $1.5 million ad buy, a spokeperson told NBC News. The ad contends that a vote for Kasich amounts to a vote for Trump. All this comes despite the Ohio governor's agreement to cede the state to Cruz, and the moves likely provide a window into how similar groups may proceed.
Katie Packer, founder of Our Principles PAC, another anti-Trump group, said the alliance is "very helpful to our plan."
"The best antidote to Trump is a unified opposition," she added, nothing that the unified front makes Indiana "a very solid opportunity" for the Stop Trump movement.
The overall problem for all of these groups: cash. The stop-Trump Our Principles PAC has struggled to raise funds from the start. The groups have spent a combined total of about $20 million combined this primary season. Kasich’s super PAC isn’t flush either — and many donors who would seem a natural fit were burned when they gave millions to Right to Rise, the super PAC backing Jeb Bush, only to see his candidacy crater.
And the main question on the horizon for this fledgling alliance: California. Yes, if Cruz wins Indiana and Kasich wins Oregon, it will take some pressure off the June 7 contest. But California will have outsize importance no matter what — and if the Cruz-Kasich alliance continues, they’ll have to divvy it up by region or even congressional district, especially because it’s such an expensive state in which to campaign.
The early contours that seem to be emerging: Kasich allies believe he could win districts in the San Francisco Bay area, while Cruz backers think the Texas senator would perform better in conservative Orange County and other areas in southern California.