- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday explained his decision not to attend a GOP presidential debate that had been scheduled for Monday in Utah by saying there’s no point in having one if the front-runner isn’t there.

“If we don’t have the number one guy there, there’s no point to having a debate if the guy [who’s] leading isn’t there, OK?” Mr. Kasich said at a town hall event in Utah. “And I can use my time more effectively to do things like this.”

After GOP front-runner Donald Trump said earlier this week he would not be attending the debate, the Kasich campaign said Mr. Kasich wouldn’t be there if Mr. Trump did not participate. With Sen. Ted Cruz the lone remaining candidate in the 2016 GOP race, the plug was eventually pulled on the whole thing.

A questioner had told Mr. Kasich, who is a distant third in the delegate count behind Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, that it would have been a good opportunity for him to get his message out to the people of Utah.

“I thought to myself, here’s the first time that the blabbermouth won’t be on stage to take over everything for so long, and Governor Kasich will actually be able to speak to the country and to the state of Utah,” the questioner said.

Mr. Kasich went on to cite a New York Times report that found Mr. Trump has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, with Mr. Kasich well back.

“You know why? Because I don’t name-call,” he said.

“For the first time since I’ve been in the campaign, as a result, by the way, of winning in like the most pivotal state in the country, Ohio, OK, we’re now getting attention,” he said. “But you’re right from the standpoint that we’re behind the curve in people knowing me. So we’re just continuing to work.”

With Sen. Marco Rubio’s exit from the race last Tuesday, a two-man debate likely would have afforded both Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz ample time to speak to the people of Utah and potentially millions more watching across the country.

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