Trump would fund anti-Cruz, Kasich super-PACs

Mark Halperin and Kendall Breitman

Donald Trump plans to create and fund super-PACs specifically aimed at ending the political careers of Ted Cruz and John Kasich should either run for office again,after both snubbed the Republican nomineeduring his party's convention this week, a person familiar with Trump’s thinking told Bloomberg Politics on Friday.

The plan would involve Trump investing millions of his own money —perhaps $20 million or more — in one or two outside groups about six months before their respective election days if Texas Senator Cruz or Ohio Governor Kasich stand for office again. The person said Trump is willing to set up two separate super-PACs one for Cruz and one for Kasich and put millions into each.

The person also said that Trump would be willing to invest tens of millions more if necessary to ensure his former competitors didn't win another race. Of course, the ire that Trump has exhibited in the aftermath of the bitter nomination contest could fade over time, leading the sometimes mercurial billionaire to drop the plans.

The person said that despite former nomination rival Jeb Bush skipping the national convention and refusing to back the Republican nominee, Trump “does not care” about doing the same against Bush because the former Florida governor is already “destroyed.”

During an event in Cleveland on Friday, Trump hinted at the prospect of funding an outside group against Cruz in the future.

“Maybe I’ll set up a super-PAC if he decides to run,” Trump said of Cruz. Turning to his running mate Mike Pence he asked rhetorically, “Are you allowed to set up a super-PACif you are the president, to fight someone?” The person close to Trump’s thinking indicated that Trump would consider forming the super-PAC whether or not he wins the presidential election in November. According to Federal Election Commission rules, if Trump doesn't win the presidency, he is clearly free to set up and fund a super-PAC. But if he occupies the Oval Office, the rules head into a legal gray area. Between elections, or if Trump declares himself a one-term president, he would be allowed to donate to a super-PAC, but is not allowed to solicit contributions of more than $5,000.

Kasich, 64, cannot run again for Ohio governor due to the state’s term limits. The 45-year-old Cruz is up for re-election in 2018. Both men have indicated an interest in running for president again in 2020, when they would either face Hillary Clinton or mount a primary challenge to a sitting Republican, Trump.

When contacted, the Trump campaign declined to comment.

Trump’s feud with Cruz boiled over in prime time on Wednesday, when the Texan refused to endorse Trump during his convention speech, instead urging voters to “vote their conscience” in November. After being criticized for the speech by Republican elites, and even many members of the Texas delegation, Cruz pointed to Trump’s attacks on his wife and father as reasons he felt justified reneging on his pledge to support the Republican nominee, saying he will not get behind Trump “like a servile puppy dog.”

The Trump campaign waged a separate war with Kasich, whose home state hosted the Republican convention. After Kasich refused to attend the convention, some within the Trump camp began to attack the Ohio governor. During a Bloomberg Politics breakfast on Monday, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort called Kasich “petulant” and said he was“embarrassing his party in Ohio” by refusing to back Trump.

“That’s a dumb, dumb thing. Will John Kasich finally grow up? Maybe,” Manafort said. Asked for comment on Saturday, Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Kasich, said ``LOL.'' —With assistance from Mark Niquette