Kasich’s dilemma: Drop out or hang on?

Ohio governor managed to win his home state but faces a tough road ahead in the battle for presidential nomination.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Trump talks with rival Kasich during a commercial break at the debate in Miami
Kasich would have to win every single delegate in every single contest from now to the convention [Reuters]

When John Kasich took to the stage to celebrate his primary win in Ohio, he achieved the minimum requirement of any presidential candidate: Winning the home state.

He had said he would. He really wanted to win in New Hampshire. He believed the nation’s first primary was fertile ground for his brand of Republicanism.

He committed a lot of time and resources but, like many others, he failed to fully appreciate the impact Donald Trump would have on the contest.

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He finished runners-up to the businessman. In later contests, he secured a couple of respectable second places.

But he needed a win and Ohio delivered for him.

He was always focused on March 15, believing that would be the day his campaign would finally ignite.

Kasich entered the race last July.

A second-term governor and with high approval ratings in his state from both Republicans and Democrats, he took a different approach from that of his rivals.

While they were keen to talk up their anti-establishment credentials, Kasich wanted to let everyone know he was an insider, a moderate.

He had served in Congress and worked with Democrats to balance a budget. It took Kasich a while to do that.

Success came only towards the end of his 18 years in Congress but it was the last time the US not only had a balanced budget but one which produced a surplus.

Kasich had thoughts of running for the presidency in 2001 but that was short lived. He moved into the private sector instead, presenting a show on Fox News and going on to work for Lehman Brothers.

In 2009, Kasich became the governor in Ohio before winning the re-election four years later by a bigger margin.

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While he likes to present himself as a moderate, someone who is willing to compromise to do the best for the people he represents, there’s little doubt Kasich is a strongly conservative governor.

During the most recent campaign, he talked extensively about his working-class roots.

He keeps repeating the line about his father being a mailman which often brings groans in the media filing centre during debates.

And while he has managed to chart a more tempered appearance on stage, his frustration gives him the air of an angry man early on.

It was almost as if he couldn’t believe a man with his talent and experience was behind in the polls.

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That he has survived in the race so long is a testament to his ability and likeability. But he is now third in a three-man field.

The least well known and from the poll numbers and the least popular.

And he has a problem: He can’t win the nomination through the primary process.

There simply aren’t enough delegates available in the remaining contests to take him from where he is to where he needs to be.

Kasich would have to win every single delegate in every single contest from now to the convention, and even that won’t be enough.

So Kasich has two choices: Drop out and make this a battle between Cruz and Trump. This is the best option available to him if he wants to stop the businessman.

The other choice he has is to hang on, pick up delegates and hope no candidate gets to the magic figure before the convention.

It’s a long shot, but Kasich is hoping that, once again, when he needs it most, Ohio will deliver to the mailman’s son.

The two-time Ohio governor Kasich entered the presidential race last July [AP]
The two-time Ohio governor Kasich entered the presidential race last July [AP]
Source: Al Jazeera