Kasich says with Ohio victory he can block Trump

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich talks at a campaign stop in Warren, Mich., Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

Detroit — Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Thursday if he can win his home state’s March 15 primary it would prevent billionaire businessman Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination outright, triggering a contentious national convention.

“We are going to do all out to win Ohio,” Kasich said at an afternoon press conference in downtown Detroit ahead of tonight’s GOP presidential debate at the Fox Theatre. “I’m going to do everything that I can do and our folks will do everything we can do to win.”

The second-term Ohio governor predicted he would win the Buckeye State in a winner-take-all 66 delegate grab.

“As you all know, I don’t make predictions, but I’m going to make a prediction: I am going to win Ohio plain and simple,” Kasich said at the Courtyard Detroit hotel on Jefferson.

Kasich has largely campaigned on his record as governor of Ohio and a nine-term congressman in the 1980s and 1990s.

But Wednesday, Kasich’s campaign messaging shifted toward a strategy clearly aimed at blocking Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination outright. Such a scenario would send the contest to a contentious Republican National Convention July 18-21 in Cleveland.

“I think it is important that we stop Mr. Trump, he’s not my favorite for president,” Kasich said. “If in fact I win Ohio, then we’re probably going to go to the convention.”

He appeared at the press conference with Chuck Yob, a former Michigan Republican National Committeeman from Grand Rapids who is backing his campaign. Yob did not speak.

Kasich has staked a lot in Michigan, making nearly a dozen trips to the state over the past year to woo GOP voters.

But in a four-man race with Trump and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Kasich has been at the bottom of the pack in most public opinion polls.

Kasich’s campaign has lowered its expectations for Tuesday’s primary, even though he’s maintaining a daily campaign schedule in Michigan, unlike the other three candidates. On Sunday, Kasich plans to head back to Ohio for a day to campaign with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Columbus and then hold an evening event in Toledo.

Kasich said he refuses to engage Trump in the kind of personal attacks Rubio and Cruz have lobbed at the bombastic frontrunner, with little success.

“I think the notion that you can beat Trump by calling him names, I don’t think you get there that way,” Kasich said. “I believe that over time, people will have a chance to hear things and if I win Ohio, he’s not going to be the nominee. We’re going to go to the convention (and) I’m going to be the nominee.”

Kasich added jokingly: “Because if I don’t know if you noticed or not, but it’s being held in Ohio. We plotted this all out.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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