Kasich won't back Rubio in Florida

Story highlights

  • John Kasich said he won't tell his supporters to back Marco Rubio in Florida's primary
  • Kasich is entering the must-win primary in Ohio this week

(CNN)Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn't competing to win Florida he said Sunday.

But even after rival Republican presidential candidate Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told his supporters that the best way to stop front-runner Donald Trump in Ohio is to support Kasich, the Ohio governor isn't returning the favor.
    Kasich told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" he isn't going to tell his supporters to back Rubio or any other non-Trump contender in Florida.
    "My people aren't like robots -- you know, go do this, go do that," Kasich said, adding that he's not competing to win Florida.
    He made a similar statement Friday to CNN's Erin Burnett.
    "When people are for you, it's pretty hard to tell them to not vote for you. But I'm not spending time in Florida. I'm here in Ohio," he had said.
    Rubio had said Friday that Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than he does -- seeming to encourage his backers to support Kasich in a bid to deny Trump the 66 delegates of the winner-take-all state.
    "At the end of the day, how do you tell your people that are for you to go vote for somebody else?" he said Sunday. "I'm not into a stop-Trump as much as I am be-for-Kasich movement."
    "Be for me," Kasich said. "I've run an unwaveringly positive campaign since I got in this, and sometimes I've operated in total obscurity. It's OK -- we're rising now," Kasich said.
    The Ohio governor's campaign strategy requires a win in his home state, which votes Tuesday along with Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri.
    Kasich defended his campaign style, saying he'll remain optimistic even as Trump's rallies have turned violent.
    "You can go into a room and get people depressed and down and angry, or you can walk into that same room with people and give them hope," he said.