- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2016

MORAINE, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich slapped down the idea Friday that his backers should shift their support to Sen. Marco Rubio ahead of Florida’s primary next week as part of a broader plan to stunt businessman Donald Trump’s momentum in the GOP presidential race.

“If I got supporters somewhere in the country, and I am on the ballot, I think they kind of ought to go for me,” Mr. Kasich told reporters after a campaign event here at a Chinese-owned auto glass plant.

Mr. Rubio’s camp, meanwhile, urged its supporters earlier in the day to back Mr. Kasich in the winner-take-all primary in Ohio on Tuesday — the same day voters head to the polls in Florida — arguing it could help put a dent in Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming the party’s standard bearer.

Mr. Kasich, though, said Friday he does not plan to return the favor.

“The people can figure out what they need to do and how they want to vote. For me, I mean, what kind of a deal would it be if I told my people, ‘Don’t vote for me.,’” he said.

Mr. Trump has captured 459 the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. Sen. Ted Cruz is running second with 360, followed by Mr. Rubio, 152, and Mr. Kasich, 54.

But heading into the winner-take-all contest Tuesday in Florida and Ohio, polls show Mr. Kasich is better positioned than Mr. Rubio to defend his home court.

There are 66 delegates on the line in Ohio and 99 on the line in Florida.

Some anti-Trump forces say denying Mr. Trump those delegates would increase the chances of a contested convention, where the nomination could be steered away from the New York billionaire.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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