WASHINGTON (UPI) — In a tactical bid to deny Donald Trump the party’s presidential nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is encouraging Republicans in Ohio to cast ballots for his opponent, Gov. John Kasich.
The unorthodox strategy is born of the bleak delegate math for both Rubio and Kasich, who are likely to soon be denied a path to outright victory in the Republican nomination fight.
Both Rubio and Kasich trail badly in the delegate count and once ballots are cast in four states on Tuesday, unless either man sweeps all delegates remaining — which polling suggests is next to impossible — there will no longer be enough delegates remaining for either man to win the outright majority necessary to win the nomination.
However, by continuing to split delegates in a multi-candidate race, Rubio or Kasich could still help deny Trump his own outright majority and fight on to a contested GOP convention in Cleveland this summer.
“John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do,” Rubio admitted Friday. “If a voter in Ohio is motivated by stopping Donald Trump and comes to the conclusion that John Kasich is the only one that can beat him there, then I expect that’s the decision they’ll make.”
A Rubio adviser later repeated the advice to Ohio voters in an interview on CNN.
The strategy is the same one former GOP nominee Mitt Romney encouraged voters to employ last week when he launched a broad attack on Trump, seeking to deny him the party’s nomination.
Rubio said in a press conference Friday he did not consult with Kasich prior to making the announcement about Ohio, one of the four states voting on Tuesday. Polling in the Buckeye State has shown Kasich in a tight race in his home state with Trump. For Rubio, he’s fighting in Florida, where polls have shown Trump with a big lead.
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