Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Sunday that rival Ted Cruz’s calls for him to get out of the race are “absurd” and that his exit would only hand the nomination to front-runner Donald Trump.
The Ohio governor said that if he had dropped out before winning his home state, which is his only victory so far, Mr. Trump already would have clinched the nomination.
“It’s absurd,” Mr. Kasich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Let [anti-Trump voters] consolidate behind me because, frankly, I’m the one that can win in the fall. And I’m the one that can get the crossover vote.”
Mr. Cruz repeatedly has called for Mr. Kasich to get out of the race and clear the way for a one-on-one contest between himself and Mr. Trump. The Texas senator trails Mr. Trump in the delegate race but remains the only other candidate with a plausible, albeit long-shot, path to the nomination.
Mr. Kasich is mathematically unable to amass the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. He is holding out hope that he can peel off enough votes from Mr. Trump to force a contested convention in July in Cleveland, and then broker a deal to capture the nomination.
He said he will keep collecting delegates in upcoming contests where he should be competitive.
“We’ll win some districts in Wisconsin. We will move to Pennsylvania, where I’m basically in a statistical tie with Trump. And when we go to New York and everywhere else, we’re going to pick up delegates,” said Mr. Kasich.
Mr. Tump has accumulated 739 delegates, followed by Mr. Cruz with 465 and Mr. Kasich with143, according to a tally by The Associated Press.