Editorial: John Kasich should stay in race

The Detroit News

Pressure is mounting on John Kasich to get out of the Republican presidential primary race. And while it is true the Ohio governor statistically can not win the nomination outright by capturing a majority of the delegates, he should stay in the contest.

Both front-runner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have called on Kasich to drop out and make it a true two-man race.

Trump this week accused Kasich of stealing his votes, a ludicrous claim considering the vast differences in both the politics and character of the two men.

Cruz, who also can’t win the nomination outright, sees Kasich’s continued presence as an obstacle to his chances in a contested convention.

Kasich has won just one state — his own, Ohio. This newspaper endorsed him for the Michigan primary, in which he and Cruz finished virtually tied for second, for the same reasons we urge him not to abandon the fight now. He is the only candidate left on either ballot with the combination of integrity, temperament, experience and maturity to honorably lead America.

If Trump doesn’t reach Cleveland in July with the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot, the campaign for all practical purposes starts anew.

At this moment, it is hard to see either Trump or Cruz deferring to the other in a deal that would give one of them the needed delegates on subsequent ballots.

That opens the door for a third, compromise candidate. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s name has been mentioned for that role, as has Mitt Romney, the losing GOP candidate in 2012.

Kasich is the best choice for a number of reasons. First, he starts with a base of delegates already, about 10 percent of those that have been awarded. That’s a small number, for sure, but every delegate will be priceless once the bargaining starts.

He’s also had the benefit of being in the campaign from the beginning. He’s competed in every primary, and has a nationwide organization. He would not be starting from scratch coming out of Cleveland.

Perhaps most important is Kasich’s strength in Ohio, a state Republicans must win if they hope to prevail in a presidential election.

And then there’s the fact that Kasich can actually beat Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee. Of the three remaining candidates, Kasich is the only one who polls ahead of Clinton in a head-to-head battle, and by solid margins. (He splits the polls in a match-up with the other Democrat, Bernie Sanders.)

The sudden faltering of Trump, evidenced by Cruz’s win in Wisconsin Tuesday, makes the likelihood of a contested convention much greater. If it continues to be a three-man race, it’s difficult to see a path for Trump to arrive in Cleveland with the required delegates.

Republicans will need broader choices, and someone who committed to the race should get preference. John Kasich should stay in the race till the end and make himself available should the Republican Party come to its senses at the convention.