16.03.2016 | 07:35
After crucial win, Kasich sees path to Republican nomination
After a critical win on his home turf, Ohio Governor John Kasich begins a new phase of his long-shot presidential campaign that his aides hope will ultimately propel him past Republican front-runner Donald Trump by triggering a rare contested convention.
Kasich's victory in Ohio's primary on Tuesday, along with the departure from the race of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, makes him the party establishment's last hope of stopping the New York billionaire businessman from winning the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election.
Trump and his closest rival, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, are deeply unpopular among Republican insiders.
"I want you to know, the campaign goes on," Kasich, 63, told a victory rally near Cleveland. In a reference to Trump's fiery campaign rhetoric, Kasich added: "I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land."
Trump, 69, notched wins in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina on Tuesday and was projected by MSNBC to win a close race with Cruz in Missouri.
But losing Ohio's winner-take-all contest for 66 delegates complicates his attempt to clinch the 1,237 delegates needed to win his party's nomination before the party's July convention in Cleveland. With most of the remaining states allocating delegates proportionally, Kasich's aides believe he could prevail at a convention at which no candidate enters with a majority.
"The plan is to win Ohio, and some other states, and if that happens, nobody is going to have enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot," said John Weaver, Kasich's chief campaign strategist, who also worked on Republican Senator John McCain's losing presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008.
Kasich's plan, according to aides, is to leverage the momentum to gather more endorsements from mainstream party insiders and Republican donors. With the wind at his back, he hopes to score more victories in upcoming primaries including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin, Connecticut and California, where he believes the terrain is friendlier to his brand of Republican moderation.
To become the nominee who faces Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders - in the November election - a Republican needs to win a majority of the 2,472 Republican delegates. After last night's contests, excluding Missouri's, Trump leads with 619 delegates, followed by Cruz with 394. Kasich has 136.