Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich are working together to stop Donald Trump. The question now: How do the outside groups supporting them help execute the strategy?
The alliance between Cruz and Kasich was as much about the various allied super PACs and outside groups as it was about the campaigns themselves. And on Monday, many of those groups were starting to strategize about how to move forward.
The Kasich super PAC New Day for America has a conference call planned for Monday afternoon to discuss the best way to make sure that Kasich wins Oregon. They’re left interpreting the public statements from both campaigns as to whether or not they should continue to air negative ads that target Ted Cruz — negative ads that the group’s senior advisers believe are the most effective.
The pro-Cruz super PAC that’s been planning a $1.6 million buy against Kasich in Indiana is rethinking whether to keep those negative ads on the air.
Another question: Will these outside groups start to work together more aggressively? Like the conversations between campaign staffers, there have been some overtures made among outside groups backing different candidates. So far, not much has come of it, but that could change.
The overall problem for all of these groups: cash. The stop-Trump Our Principles PAC has struggled to raise funds from the start. Kasich’s super PAC isn’t flush either — and many donors who would seem a natural fit were burned when they gave millions to Right to Rise, the super PAC backing Jeb Bush, only to see his candidacy crater.
And the main question on the horizon for this fledgling alliance: California. Yes, if Cruz wins Indiana and Kasich wins Oregon, it will take some pressure off the June 7 contest. But California will have outsize importance no matter what — and if the Cruz-Kasich alliance continues, they’ll have to divvy it up by region or even congressional district, especially because it’s such an expensive state in which to campaign.
The early contours that seem to be emerging: Kasich allies believe he could win districts in the San Francisco Bay area, while Cruz backers think the Texas senator would perform better in conservative Orange County and other areas in southern California.
—NBC News’ Leigh Ann Caldwell provided additional reporting.