- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - The head of Ohio’s Republican Party promised “unequivocally” Friday to help whichever candidate emerges from the crowded presidential field to win his crucial swing state in the 2016 election.

Chairman Matt Borges said he hears some Republican partisans warn that they couldn’t support certain contenders, but he’s not looking at the election that way even as unconventional GOP candidates such as Donald Trump or Ben Carson lead in many polls.

“My job is to make sure that we put the building blocks in place to carry Ohio whoever our nominee is, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Borges said in an interview after he and state Democratic Party chairman David Pepper spoke at a Cincinnati regional chamber of commerce breakfast. A Republican has never won the White House without Ohio.

Borges said he believes one candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, would be a good pick for the party nationally, besides boosting Republican candidates in Ohio next year. He said he’d like Kasich to be at the top of, “or at least part of,” the national ticket.

“But even if it isn’t (Kasich), I’d rather have any one of those people selecting our Supreme Court Justices than Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Though he is popular at home, Kasich has struggled to gain traction nationally as polls indicate his support among likely primary voters remains in the low single digits.

Borges said even though Republicans in the state think their nominee will be stronger, they are gearing up for what they expect to be “a very formidable” opponent in Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her husband, Bill, twice carried Ohio, and she won the state’s 2008 Democratic primary over Barack Obama.

“After all, they are the Clintons and we understand that … We will cede no ground, we will not leave anything to chance,” Borges said.

Pepper said the state party will remain neutral during the Democratic presidential nomination race and is focused now on getting a good “ground game” in place for the winner. He said regardless of how much money that’s spent for the Republican side, Democrats will win the state if they have high voter turnout.

He said the party is reaching out to those who worked for Barack Obama’s two winning Ohio campaigns.

“We’re like the Blues Brothers - we’re getting the band back together,” Pepper told the audience.

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