Just less than 24 hours after GOP front-runner Donald Trump was announced the presumptive nominee after Texas Senator Ted Cruz officially end his bid, Ohio Governor announced abruptly he was suspending his own bid.
“As I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life,” Kasich said in Columbus, Ohio.
After finishing third in the Indiana primary to Trump and Cruz Tuesday night, Kasich’s campaign insisted they were going forward. In a memo released after RNC chairman Reinus Priebus tweeted that Trump will be the presumptive GOP nominee, Kasich’s campaign strategist John Weaver stated the strategy will not be altered after the Indiana results.
“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,” the campaign memo wrote. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”
Kasich was not yet ready to quit as he has scheduled fundraisers in Washington before having a change of heart. According to a source in Kasich’s campaign, the Ohio Governor told four closest friends that his “heart is not in this” in which his friend told him to do the inevitable. Just before taking off, Kasich pulled the plug and the arranged news conference outside the Dulles International airport and his private fundraiser were canceled.
“The people of our country have changed me,” Kasich said, chocking up into tears as he thanked supporters. “They encouraged me. They changed me with the stories of their lives.”
The Ohio Governor was a long shot in a crowded field that once has 17 prospects. Being invited to every main stage primary debate, Kasich remained positive as his opponents broke out in mudslinging as means to have a break-out moment as well as show viewers that Trump was unqualified to become president. That effort didn’t work, as many of his opponents saw their chances weakened, in which it gave a path for Kasich to continue to move forward. Touting his wealth of experience and his desire to balance the federal budget like he has once done as a member of Congress, Kasich cast himself as a “compassionate conservative,” highlighting his work as Governor of Ohio that can work with both the likes of Democrats and Republicans to get things done.
It wasn’t until New Hampshire that Kasich as able to gain some momentum by coming into second place, beating both the likes of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Former Governor Jeb Bush. Even though Kasich campaign was always tight on campaign cash, they managed to spread their resources to go in a way that kept Kasich competitive on the trail. Super PAC for Kasich helped his campaign with commercial ads. But as they kept trailing along, the only state Kasich was able to win was his own state of Ohio.
“We never had all the money wanted – we were probably outspent by 50:1 – but we did the best we could,” Kasich said.
During his run, Kasich was only able to accumulate 154 delegates, making his mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP nomination. His only path forward was to continue his campaign forward to the convention in July and preventing Trump from reaching the 1,237 thresholds. Had Trump failed to reach the 1,237 mark, the only hope for Kasich was to win on the second ballot using the argument that he is the only candidate based on polls that can defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Kasich could potentially still end up on the Republican ticket — his name has been floated as a possible pick for vice president, in part on his popularity in Ohio, a crucial swing state.