John Kasich is aware of the chatter among Republican insiders that he should exit the presidential race. He's probably even seen some of the media coverage questioning his strategy.
But on the campaign trail yesterday, the Ohio governor said the party elites should "chill out" and give his candidacy a chance. "I'm going to stay in for a long time," Kasich said. "I'm going all the way," He even pointed to some upcoming Midwestern primaries -- the region has not yet had a voice in the GOP nominating process -- where he likes his chances.
But if we're going to talk about candidates bowing out, Team Kasich has a very different suggestion. Politico reported:
John Kasich is stuck at the back of the GOP primary pack, but his super PAC says it's Marco Rubio who has no path to the nomination. Instead, the memo says, Rubio should consider dropping his bid to sign on as Kasich's pick for vice president.
Kasich's communications director added on Twitter today that Rubio "needs to do the right thing" and "suspend campaign."
To be sure, it takes a little chutzpah to make such a suggestion. Kasich easily outpaced Rubio in New Hampshire, but in the other three contests thus far, the senator finished far ahead of the Ohioan.
But after a Quinnipiac poll came out this morning showing Rubio losing by double digits in his home state of Florida, the chatter from Team Kasich grew louder.
Let's be very clear about the bottom line: there's simply no way pressure from Kasich is going to force Rubio from the race. It's just not going to happen. The broader point, however, is that the governor's team wants to change the nature of the conversation.
Remember in 2012, when there was a clear frontrunner (Romney), and Republicans seemed to cycle through potential alternatives, one at a time (Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich, then Santorum)? Kasich would love the political world to look at the 2016 race the same way, with one clear frontrunner (Trump), as Republicans cycle through potential alternatives, one at a time (Carson, then Cruz, then Rubio).
Now, the argument goes, Kasich would like his turn in the spotlight, too. It's a reminder to those waiting for the governor's quick exit to lower their expectations.