With just a few days to go before the Wisconsin primary, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz launched a television ad and mailers attack on rival John Kasich, urging him to drop out of the race.
A 30-second television ad released by the Texan’s campaign over the weekend focuses on the Ohio governor’s ties to Worthington Industries, a Fortune 500 company in Ohio that laid off hundreds of employees last year. It’s the first time the Cruz campaign has run a negative add on Kasich.
"Despite having no path to the nomination, Kasich insists on continuing his quixotic auditioning tour to become Donald Trump's vice president," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said according to the Washington Post about spending money attacking Kasich. "So far, his greatest strength has been anonymity — we're simply shining some light on his record."
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols accused the Cruz campaign of “recycling failed Democrat attacks in a desperate effort to smear” the governor.
"It didn't work for dishonest Ohio Democrats in 2014 and won't work for deceptive Ted Cruz now. Ohioans know that the governor has no say in what companies receive tax credits and they also know Ohio has created more than 415,000 jobs since Gov. Kasich took office."
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At a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday – where he was joined by Gov. Scott Walker – Cruz spoke about the contest as a two-man race between him and front runner Donald Trump.
"There are two candidates and only two candidates that have any plausible path to winning the Republican nomination: me and Donald Trump," he said.
Also campaigning in Wisconsin on Sunday, Trump pushed Kasich to drop out of the race, arguing that he shouldn't be allowed to collect future delegates because the nomination is already beyond his grasp.
Trying hard to right himself after a difficult week, Trump said it was unfair for Kasich, the winner of only his home state's primary, to continue campaigning. He suggested that Kasich, who has pledged to make it to the summer convention, follow the lead of former candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush — and quit.
"If I didn't have Kasich, I automatically win," Trump said Sunday evening in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Trump said Kasich could ask to be considered at the GOP convention in Cleveland in July even without competing in the remaining nominating contests. He said earlier Sunday that he had shared his concerns with Republican National Committee officials at a meeting in Washington this past week.
Kasich's campaign countered that neither Trump nor Cruz would have enough delegates to win the nomination outright in Cleveland.
"Since he thinks it's such a good idea, we look forward to Trump dropping out before the convention," said Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf.
Kasich acknowledges that he cannot catch up in the delegate race, leaving a contested convention his only path to victory. He has faced calls in the past to step aside, but those nudges became less frequent following his decisive victory last month in his home state.
Still, Kasich suggested that a contested convention would not involve the chaos that party leaders fear.
"Kids will spend less time focusing on Bieber and Kardashian and more time focusing on how we elect presidents," Kasich told ABC. "It will be so cool."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.